While many people do not know about medical detox as a treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, medical detox is actually one of the best possible ways to begin the addiction recovery process. In fact, once people realize the many benefits of medical detox, they do not consider any other option.
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Detox is a process that a person undergoes as the first step in their recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction. This process involves getting the addicted drug or alcohol out of the body and ensuring that it does not get replenished in any way. In other words, medical detox is getting sober. When a person goes through the process, they will also experience withdrawal symptoms as a result. These withdrawals are the body and mind’s negative reactions to being denied the addicted substance and can range from minor to severe depending on a large number of factors.
Detox focuses on a person’s physical addiction to drugs or alcohol. When a person is physically addicted to a substance, they have experienced changes in their internal chemistry, particularly in the brain. The drug or alcohol interacts with the brain and tells it (through chemical signals) how to act and function. After continued drug abuse, a person’s brain will wait to hear from the drug in order to complete tasks and function in needed ways. This is physical addiction.
In this way, detox breaks the addiction by denying the body the addicted substance and forcing the body and brain to function without the drug in the system. This process can be accomplished gradually in a medical program. Doctors will administer prescription drugs at specific moments during the process to help the body slowly adjust to losing the effects of the drug in the body.
A slow detox has many benefits over an abrupt detox. When a person abruptly detoxes, they often put themselves into intense and sudden withdrawals. These symptoms can be so intense that they cause the person to give up before the process is complete. This, in turn, is actually harder on the body than completing the process or not trying at all, because of the continual pattern of shocking the system and reintroducing a destructive substance into the body. Additionally, the shock of an abrupt detox can actually cause serious damage on its own leading to organ damage and organ failure.
Because detoxing at home is an abrupt detox, it is inherently dangerous. On top of that, there is no way to know if a person will experience severe or minor symptoms of withdrawal when they begin their process. As such, if a person tries to detox at home and experiences those severe symptoms, they will not have the benefits of immediate medical interventions to handle and treat those withdrawal symptoms.
When a person goes through the process and completes it, they have successfully broken their physical addiction to drugs or alcohol. However, this does not mean that they have completely overcome their addiction to drugs or alcohol. This is because addiction is not just physical, but also mental and emotional. Hence, if a person completes detox but does not continue treatment, they are highly likely to relapse not long after that detox is finished.