Drug Detox

Long-term drug addiction can cause the body to rely on chemical compounds delivered by the drug. To address this, drug detox is the first step in comprehensive treatment for users who have become physically dependent on drugs. While there are different programs depending on the type of drug and the person’s needs, detox is only the first part of a complete treatment program—no matter what drug was being used.

The Challenge

Certain drugs can form a chemical dependency in the human body. When a person removes the chemical that their body has relied on, withdrawal can be difficult and even painful. Most addicts claim that detox is the hardest part in breaking an addiction.

Some 30 percent of users will not complete the detox stage because the physical effects are too difficult. Each drug has different effects on the body, but common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritation
  • Insomnia
  • Painful headaches
  • Extreme changes in personality
  • Confusion and difficulty performing normal tasks
  • Nausea and vomiting/abdominal cramps and diarrhea

Why Important

When a user begins a detox program, they accomplish two things—1) they improve their overall health, and 2) they begin the first step in the recovery process. Medical observation is also provided during the process to ensure the patient’s safety, and completing a detox will increase their chance at success.

More is Needed

While detox is an important first step, there are usually underlying issues that lead to addiction in the first place. After the drug has been removed from your system, you can address those issues with a clear mind. Oftentimes abuse, grief, or major changes in life like divorce or loss of employment can contribute to drug use. Identifying the issues and getting help is the next step.

The research guide Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment identifies some of these effective therapies:

  • Family therapy—addresses problems at home
  • Personal therapy—personal discussion on underlying issues
  • Life skills classes –learning how to function with normal responsibilities
  • Relapse prevention—creating a plan to implement when facing temptation
  • Medical Services—finding proper medical care to help patients avoid self-medicating
  • Educational classes—learning about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain and body

Where to Start

Since many programs are comprehensive and can accommodate the needs of each patient, finding the right one shouldn’t be difficult. Detox is often the hardest part of recovery, but getting professional help and beginning a detox program is the first step.

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