Detox is the first stage of your journey toward substance use recovery. Detoxification allows you to deal with most of the withdrawal symptoms and enter the treatment phase of recovery ready to make the most of it.
Prior to embarking on the detox and withdrawal process, it’s helpful to know what to expect, since having a basic understanding of the detoxification process can better prepare you for the experience. What are some things to keep in mind during the detoxification process?
What is detox and withdrawal?
When a substance use disorder develops, it modifies brain pathways and brain chemistry. When you begin the detox and withdrawal process, the brain and body systems are temporarily disrupted because the brain has become dependent on the substance. This causes withdrawal symptoms to emerge, some less severe than others.
As the body eliminates the substance, you will go through three stages of detoxification: emerging withdrawal symptoms, peak withdrawal symptoms and subsiding withdrawal symptoms. The specific symptoms you experience will vary depending on:
- The specific substance involved
- The severity of the substance use disorder
- The duration of the substance use disorder
- The presence of a co-occurring mental health disorder
- The state of the your overall health
Withdrawal symptoms begin to surface within hours of the last exposure to the substance — usually about 6-12 hours. In many cases, withdrawal symptoms peak around day two or three, and then subside over the new few days. However, for substances, like benzodiazepines or opioids, detox may take two weeks to complete.
What is withdrawal management?
During a medically supervised detoxification, a trained withdrawal management team will oversee the withdrawal process to minimize the severity of the symptoms. These professionals monitor your vital signs and are on the lookout for any complications that may arise.
In some instances, medications are administered to ease the effects of withdrawal. Some of the medications used include naltrexone, buprenorphine or benzodiazepines to help prevent some of the worst side effects, like seizures. Withdrawal management also includes psychological support to help reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression or psychosis. These medical interventions can improve the chances of completing the detoxification process safely and proceeding to the treatment phase of recovery.
What happens after detox?
Once you have completed the detox process, it is time to address the root cause of the substance use disorder by enrolling in a comprehensive treatment program. Treatment is multi-faceted, involving a combination of therapeutic exercises to help you on your recovery journey.
Treatment for substance use disorder includes:
Individual therapy with a licensed therapist is a central treatment component for substance use recovery. Therapists utilize cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy and contingency management to guide you toward healthy thought patterns and coping mechanisms.
Process group sessions involve participation of your peers in recovery. During these group sessions, a therapist or addiction specialist leads the group in discussions pertaining to recovery.
Classes can also teach you about the science behind substance use disorder. Classes can also teach you new coping skills to use while in recovery, and assist you in creating your own unique relapse prevention plan.
12 Step meetings
Alcoholics Anonymous is integrated into the treatment program, including your attendance at 12 Step meetings.
Complementary holistic activities that enhance the clinical effects of treatment round out the program, and include meditation, yoga, mindfulness, art therapy, acupuncture and massage.
While entering detox may seem daunting, it helps to focus on this step as the first milestone toward achieving a healthy new life in recovery.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.