What is Detox Treatment and Why Is It So Important?

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Millions of Americans and their families are affected by a substance use disorder each year. However, only about 10% of those who struggle with substance abuse receive professional treatment. Quitting cold turkey on your own is often ineffective and short-lived. For many, achieving becoming physically independent from the substance is one of the biggest hurdles in recovery, and it is a crucial first step to ensuring long-term success.

Detox treatment plays a crucial role in the journey to recovery from substance abuse and addiction. It is a critical first step that helps individuals safely navigate the withdrawal process while receiving necessary medical and mental health support.

What is Detox?

Detox, or detoxification, is the process of ridding the body of addictive substances and toxins. In the context of addiction recovery, detox treatment is a process that allows individuals to rid their bodies of drugs or alcohol while managing the accompanying withdrawal symptoms. It serves as a foundation for further addiction treatment and sets the stage for lasting recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recognizes detoxification as a key component of drug addiction treatment, emphasizing its ability to help individuals transition into comprehensive, evidence-based therapies.

It is important to understand that, without professional support and monitoring from healthcare providers during detox, withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and even life-threatening.

When an individual abuses a substance, their body becomes accustomed to it. Neurotransmitters in the brain adapt and as a result, the chemical balance in the brain is altered which causes the body to crave the substance in order to function. This is one of the long-term risks of drug abuse. If someone has been using substances for any extended period of time, attending a detox or stabilization program can be crucial to recovery, and often is very necessary for safety and comfort.

Detox programs manage withdrawal symptoms and minimize the risk of complications, such as seizures or hallucinations, that can occur during the withdrawal process. Medical professionals may use medications to help ease withdrawal symptoms, called medication-assisted treatment (MAT) or medically assisted detox.

In addition to medical support, many drug detox programs offer counseling and therapy to help individuals address the psychological and emotional aspects of addiction. Many individuals struggling with addiction also face underlying mental health conditions, which can be addressed through integrated care. Mental health professionals work alongside the medical team to provide comprehensive assessments, individualized treatment plans, therapy, and counseling services to address both addiction and mental health concerns. A treatment plan may include individual or group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or other even therapy with family and loved ones.

comfortable detox

The Detoxification Process

When attending inpatient detox, the detox process can vary in duration and intensity depending on factors such as the type of substance being abused, the duration of the addiction, and the individual’s overall physical and mental health.

Individuals receive round-the-clock care and supervision from a multidisciplinary team that includes physicians, nurses, counselors, and other mental health professionals.

For substances such as alcohol, the detox process typically lasts around five to seven days. For opioids, such as heroin or prescription painkillers, the acute withdrawal phase typically lasts about a week. Detoxing from substances like benzodiazepines can last several weeks or even months. During this time, individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, sweating, anxiety, and insomnia.

It is important to note that detox treatment is just the initial phase of addiction recovery and should be followed by comprehensive addiction treatment, which may involve inpatient rehab, PHP/IOP treatment, therapy, counseling, and ongoing support. The exact duration of detox can be determined through a thorough assessment by an addiction specialist or medical professional who can evaluate your specific circumstances and provide personalized guidance.

What are the Symptoms of Withdrawal?

During detoxification, the body is deprived of those addictive substances and the absence can result in withdrawal symptoms. Although the detox experience varies from person to person, withdrawal symptoms often depend on several factors including:

  • Substance of choice
  • Amount and duration of substance abuse
  • Medical conditions
  • Mental health conditions

For individuals using drugs like benzodiazepines, which encompasses Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and other similar prescription medications, a detox program or stabilization period is almost certainly warranted. Tapering off of these substances can result in severe withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, detoxing from benzodiazepines without appropriate medical supervision can be extremely dangerous or deadly. Similarly, alcohol detox and alcohol withdrawal can be very dangerous or deadly without medical intervention if an individual has been drinking extensively or for an extended period of time.

Opioid withdrawal is known to be extraordinarily uncomfortable, and relapse often takes place as a result of an individual not being able to make it through the discomfort of an opiate withdrawal process. Attending a professional detox program can alleviate many of these issues and make the process much more comfortable so that the likelihood of staying sober is much higher.

Cocaine and methamphetamine, while not inducing the same type of withdrawal symptoms that are found with central nervous system depressants, can also often benefit from a stabilization period where an individual can have their vitals monitored and they can adjust to sobriety in a safe and controlled environment. Even in situations with cannabis abuse, a stabilization or detox program can be helpful, especially if there are any residual psychological effects of cannabis.

Who is Detox for?

Some of the telltale signs that detox will be helpful include:

  • Long-term substance abuse. The longer an individual has been using a substance, the more likely a medical detox will be necessary. It is important to remember, however, that with substances like benzodiazepines, alcohol, and opiates, someone does not need to have been using for a long time to benefit from a stabilization period.
  • Withdrawal symptoms. These can be more or less severe depending on the substances used and depending on the length of use, but regardless of where they fall on the scale, having withdrawal symptoms managed under medical supervision makes them much more tolerable.
  • History of seizures or other adverse physical reactions when discontinuing alcohol or drugs.
  • Any other medical complications or issues that could make discontinuing substance use independently dangerous.
  • Tried quitting cold turkey by yourself but relapsed shortly after.

Why is Detoxing Important in Substance Abuse Treatment?

Professional detoxification care helps safely alleviate the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Detox treatment provides a safe, supportive environment for clients to recover from the physical dependencies associated with addiction.

It is important to detox under medical supervision to ensure comfort and safety. Medical professionals like doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, and other health care providers can administer medications to help ease physical symptoms of withdrawal. And by surrounding yourself with knowledgeable and encouraging professionals, you can increase your chances of successful recovery. Being surrounded by trained staff and an established recovery community often helps motivate clients to become stronger and healthier in their recovery.

The process of drug and/or alcohol detox can be significantly improved with the support of a compassionate team and the right medication management. Our residential detox and stabilization treatment paves the way to successful recovery by offering critical support and empowerment during this crucial phase.

While detoxification is a vital process in an addiction treatment program, it is not the final step. The best detox facility will support each client in addressing not only their symptoms and behaviors but also their underlying causes, attitudes, health problems, values, and family dynamics. The cessation of drugs, alcohol, or addictive behaviors is only the beginning.

As clients progress through detox treatment, they can shift the focus from detox and stabilization to therapeutic immersion, so clients can gradually shift from addiction to long-term recovery. Detox aftercare can take the form of outpatient treatment at a dual-diagnosis facility, paired with sober living and peer support/community engagement.


Detox Facility in Los Angeles, CA

Detoxification and substance abuse treatment helps clients safely and comfortably overcome the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that are associated with quitting drugs and alcohol. It also builds the foundation to begin the appropriate therapeutic treatment in an engaging and supportive environment to kickstart their journey to recovery. If you are interested in learning more about Clear Behavioral Health’s detox and drug rehab facility in Los Angeles, contact our expert clinical team today.

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