Addiction isn’t a disease that occurs overnight. The prelude to addiction is reckless experimentation with substance abuse. Individuals either become curious about recreational intoxication or begin misusing mind-altering substances while the body becomes increasingly dependent on frequent consumption. When the body becomes dependent on alcohol or drugs, an individual must imbibe several times throughout the day in order to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. Withdrawal can range from mildly uncomfortable to debilitating and even life-threatening, which is why addicts continue their substance abuse and oftentimes fear the recovery process.
However, recovery isn’t an overnight process either. When an individual decides to overcome his or her dependency on chemical substances, a process begins. Embarking on the journey of recovery means exploring treatment options, learning about the different types of rehabilitative programming and the treatments that work best for particular needs, determining whether there’s a particular area or region in which one would prefer to recover, whether a facility accepts certain types of health insurance, and a number of other considerations. Moreover, many individuals who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction will need to detox before beginning an actual program. Though not always required, a detox program is an important part of the rehabilitation process and can even be safer than detoxing on your own.
Why is Detoxing at Home Risky?
After abusing chemical substances several times a day for years or even decades, addicts’ bodies have become dependent on their substance abuse for even natural functions and processes. In particular, the brain begins relying on an individual’s imbibing alcohol or drugs in order to trigger a production of important neurochemicals, unable to maintain minimum levels without the addict’s substance abuse. When someone whose body has become chemically dependent ceases his or her substance abuse, the individual promptly begins to experience symptoms of withdrawal. The most common symptoms of withdrawal include sweating, hot flashes and cold chills, trembling and shaking, nausea, diarrhea and/or vomiting, anxiety, depression, agitation, loss of appetite, lethargy, and headaches. In short, mild to moderate withdrawal can produce symptoms that are similar to experiencing a cold or the flu, persisting for approximately a week at peak intensity.
In instances where an individual’s addiction is very severe—such as having been in the throes of active addiction for many years—it follows that his or her withdrawal during detoxification will be more severe. In addition to those mentioned above, symptoms of severe withdrawal can include hallucinations, confusion, racing heartbeat, fever, and even seizures. If the individual’s addiction is to alcohol, this can even include a condition known as delirium tremens, a condition that occurs as a result of an alcoholic’s severe withdrawal and which directly affects the individual’s nervous system. Severe withdrawal is not only uncomfortable to the point of being quite painful, but can even be a major health risk to the point of threatening one’s life.
What is a Medical Detox Program?
There are many components to the process of overcoming addiction to alcohol and drugs. When one thinks of rehabilitation, one often thinks of psychotherapy and the treatments involved, but an important precursor to the treatment phase is detoxification. Detoxing is the process of ridding or cleansing the body of the harmful substances and other toxins that individuals put into their bodies while in active addiction. During detox, individuals will experience the onset of withdrawal symptoms and progress through them until the symptoms begin to subside. Although it’s possible to do this at home on one’s own, it’s generally not advised due to the dangers involved in unsupervised detoxification. A medical detox program is a period that precedes addiction treatment and allows those beginning the recovery process to detox in a controlled, supervised setting, benefitting from continuous monitoring and care by physicians and healthcare professionals.
Benefits of Completing a Medical Detox Program Before Addiction Treatment
There are a number of benefits to completing one’s detoxification in a medical detox program rather than attempting to detox at home while unsupervised. By detoxing under medical supervision, individuals’ withdrawal symptoms can be monitored in order to make sure that they don’t become potentially harmful or life-threatening, which ensures their safety during the detox process. Additionally, this continuous supervision affords medical care that individuals wouldn’t receive when detoxing at home; if an individual’s withdrawal symptoms become severe and uncomfortable, physicians can administer medicinal treatments in order to help alleviate some of the discomfort of withdrawal and make the process easier. The medications that can be administered during a medical detox program can not only alleviate the physical symptoms, but they can also help to eliminate or reduce the cravings individuals have during withdrawal. With the aid of nutritional supplements and other non-addictive medications, individuals’ bodies are cleansed and returned to a state of physical health and wellness.
Upon completion of a medical detoxification program, individuals will have overcome the physical components of addiction or be only experiencing negligible post-acute symptoms of physical dependency. This allows them to begin the actual treatment phase of recovery while being able to focus on overcoming the psychological aspects of addiction. Medical detox programs are designed to help individuals achieve physical wellness so that they can learn more about addiction, the factors that led to their development of addiction, and learn a number of strategies and skills that will help them to maintain sobriety long-term.
Explore Detox & Treatment Options — Call the Palm Beach Institute Today
There are many ways to achieve recovery, but by taking advantage of a medical detox program individuals can significantly increase their chances of success in treatment. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction and would like to learn more about medical detoxification and other treatment programs, call the Palm Beach Institute today. We have a team of recovery specialists available to help match individuals to the treatments that address their needs, allowing them to return to a state of sobriety, health, and wellness.