A medical detoxification program is one that strives to rid a person of self-destructive behavior accompanied by addiction to some substance such as drugs or alcohol. “Detox” is most commonly thought of as the process of cleansing the addict’s body of all traces of the drug or alcohol. This withdrawal phase of recovery is often extremely unpleasant, and a properly managed detox program is essential to easing the strain on both the patient and his or her family.
Most withdrawal symptoms for both drugs and alcohol are debilitating, sometimes painful, and a powerful inducement to the addict to just keep on abusing whatever it is he’s abusing rather than go through all that. Seeking help through a properly staffed and accredited detox center or a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center is therefore crucial to getting through this phase of recovery and firmly onto the road to a life free of the drug or alcohol monkey. It is not necessary to quit cold turkey and endure the discomfort; with proper management and care, the detox process can be looked at as just the first mile rather than as an insurmountable roadblock.
An effective detox program rids the body of the addictive substance while managing the patient’s physical well-being. This may involve drug therapy: substituting less harmful drugs in the short term to ease the transition from hard-core abuse to a state free of any physical trace of the substance. These drugs mimic the effects of alcohol or cocaine or meth and let the addict down gently, without the intense cravings and acute pain that can accompany sudden stoppage. This is the first stage of detoxification. Any detox program that ends there is not worth exploring.
A true detox program—and a legitimate detox center administering it—looks at recovery as a multi-stage, rounded process. It involves not just the initial “get clean” stage, but the long road to “stay clean”, which cannot be achieved overnight. Physical monitoring by trained and experienced staff is one aspect; psychological monitoring and counseling is another. Many times, additional medical conditions are uncovered in the course of detox that even the patient was not aware of until he or she began treatment.
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This is one reason not to attempt detox at home, but only through a qualified alcohol or drug treatment center. Another is that as a person “dries out” or “gets clean,” the real person buried inside the addict begins to re-emerge, and that person will have all sorts of emotional issues to deal with on top of the physical damage done by substance abuse. A good detox center will have a fully-rounded staff equipped to deal with discovering why a person took to substance abuse in the first place, and will set up a tailored treatment program for each individual that will teach him how to cope with the aftermath.
Finding the right detox center is a matter not of luck, but of research. Go armed with the knowledge of what you should look for, and don’t stop until you find it.