Detox is the most dreaded part of treatment for any drug addict. You’ve heard about this thing called a medical detox, but you don’t know if you should be using medications at all. How can you decide what kind of detox would be best for you? First you have to educate yourself. You need to know what takes place during medical detox. This isn’t always easy when you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol and focusing on trying to stop. Enlist a friend or family member to help you make this choice, but make sure it’s someone you trust.
If you have never detoxed but have experienced at least some withdrawal and cravings, you have a little bit of an idea of what detox feels like. To detox means to stop using and to give your body time to eliminate the drug completely. This can take a couple of days or up to an entire week. As the drug leaves your body, you will experience intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms that may range from headaches and nausea to whole body pain and severe vomiting and diarrhea or constipation. You will want to do anything you can to use again just to feel better.
Because detoxing is so unpleasant and often downright painful, many addicts fail to get sober at this stage. For this reason, most people don’t even attempt to detox alone. At the very least, you need someone at your side to comfort you, keep you hydrated and, most importantly, to ensure you don’t go back to using. Even a trusted friend to help keep you on track can’t take away your pain and discomfort, which is why medical detox is an option.
Medical detox means going through detox with a nurse or doctor to supervise you. This is often done in a clinical setting and you will probably be given medications to make you feel better. These could range from something to help with diarrhea or constipation, an anti-nausea medication or even an anesthesia. When a doctor administers anesthesia during detox, we call it a rapid detox. It doesn’t necessarily take less time than any other method of detoxing, but you won’t remember it so it will seem shorter. The anesthesia prevents you from experiencing most of the withdrawal and you wake up at the end detoxed.
What happens during a medical detox depends on what you choose. If you want some supervision and minor drugs to ease your withdrawal, you can choose that option. If you want to sleep through it, you can sign up for rapid detox. Just know that no type of detox is a substitute for addiction treatment. Detox is only the first step. Some people make the mistake of thinking that if they can only detox, they’ll be fine. These people almost always relapse. Learn about your detox options so you can make an informed decision, but also remember to plan for treatment after the detox.