When an individual decides to seek help for their substance abuse issue, that decision is a crucial step on the path towards a healthier more productive life. In the beginning stages of recovery, one of the most crucial questions that need to be answered is if medical detox is necessary. Whether a person’s drug use was recreational in nature or had become chronic and debilitating, detox may be a necessary step in the early part of recovery in order to safely rid the body of toxins that have accumulated in the body. In order to know if you or a loved one who is struggling with addiction need detox, there are several questions that need to be answered.
The Importance of Assessment
When an individual enters treatment, a pre-treatment assessment can be performed in which the patient is interviewed as well as given lab tests. Along with these components, there are also assessments done for any co-occurring mental health and physical conditions. The information gathered from these screenings can help formulate the appropriate levels of care for the patient, including detoxification.
Factors That Someone May Need Detox
There are certain social, medical and psychological factors that have to be considered regarding if someone needs detox from drugs and/or alcohol. As stated earlier, a needs assessment can be performed by licensed and trained medical personnel, and from those assessments there are indicators where detoxification are necessary. These indicators can include the following:
- Medical indicators—if an individual is experiencing fevers, abdominal pains, or there is an observed change in responsiveness of pupils, they are in need of detox. Other medical concerns that would raise the need for detox include changes in blood pressure and heart rate as well as sleep disturbances and insomnia, hallucinations, and seizures.
- Mental health indicators—someone may need medical detox if there are strong indications of suicidality as well as anger and aggression issues. In these cases, there needs to be frequent monitoring and contact with the patient by staff.
- Those in Specific Populations—there are certain populations were detox may take on greater importance. For example, adolescents are more likely to consume larger quantities of alcohol and/or drugs and are more likely to consume several different drugs. Another demographic where detox may be of higher concern are those who are victims of domestic violence. Other populations that may have greater needs include parents with dependent children and those individuals that have different cultural backgrounds.
Detoxification is seen as a crucial first step in the recovery process and not as a stand-alone treatment option. The importance of detoxification is not only focused on the evaluation of a patient medically, socially and psychologically, it also focuses on the stabilization of the patient in their transition to a substance free environment. Once that environment is established, the recovering individual can enter formal treatment and empowered with the message that recovery is possible.