Detoxification and the Development of Strategies
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Detoxification and the Development of Strategies for Recovery

The detoxification process has two-fold importance. The first and most obvious objective is to stabilize the addicted person and rid their bodies of toxins and minimize the physical damage caused by chronic drug use and abuse.  The second objective of detoxification is to offer hope and expectations of recovery from substance abuse.  Throughout the process, treatment staff need to provide a unified message that the detoxification process is only a beginning step in the journey of recovery.  Sustained recovery can also occur through continual maintenance and rehabilitation.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration has outlined several strategies in their guide for clinicians concerning detoxification and substance abuse

One strategy is the education of the patient regarding the detoxification process.  Depending on the type of drugs that were being abused, treatment staff needs to provide the patient information regarding the withdrawal symptoms based on the drugs they have been abusing.  Providing such information can help reduce the discomfort associated with withdrawal and may prevent the individual from leaving the process early.  Written material may also be provided regarding information on drugs and symptomology.

Another strategy that can be employed is the use of support systems.   Client advocates may be used for intervention on clients who are wishing to leave.  Loved ones who are visiting are instructed about the importance of supporting the individual in both the detoxification process as well as the substance abuse treatment process.  Twelve Step meetings, if available onsite, are an option if the person is stable enough after the initial detoxification process.

Maintaining a drug-free environment is another important strategy for recovery.  Maintaining this type of stable environment for the newly recovering person in crucial in retention.  Providers need to ensure their facilities are easily monitored and that the message to both patient and visitor is clear regarding why the facility needs to be drug-free.  Also, if the therapeutic programs offered in the facility are seen as potentially not being a good fit for the patient, alternative therapeutic options can be explored.

Most importantly, there needs to be a strong and supportive alliance between the patient and clinician. Empathy, supportive attitudes, and non-judgment are hallmarks of a strong alliance.  These alliances need to be established upon admission into the facility.

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