Common Questions About the Drug and Alcohol Detox Process

What is detox?

Detox, short for detoxification, is the deliberate flushing of toxic substances from the body. Detoxification is an entire process of cleansing the body during addiction recovery. Detoxification should not be considered simply one action. After substance abuse has created a chemical dependency on drugs or alcohol, the body requires time to eliminate these toxins and restructure its metabolism and mental processes. Only after removing toxic substances can a patient begin to heal from the damages that their substance abuse has caused.

Who goes to detox and why?

People who go to a detoxification center can either be total addicts or individuals aware of their prolonged dependency on specific drugs. Those registered as patients in a detoxification center understand they have a problem and need help. Patients entering a detoxification clinic check in to receive medical attention, psychological support, and counseling during the detox process. Depending upon the level of addiction, detoxification can trigger additional side effects and withdrawal symptoms in the body. Receiving support from a detoxification center grants patients immediate access to medical staff and services during this challenging time. Furthermore, upon complete removal of the substance from the body, detoxification centers can provide individuals with additional resources to help with their addiction and facilitate recovery. Continued services after detoxification can include counseling, therapy, and access to recovery support groups.

how long does detox lastHow long is the detox process?

The detox process can vary based on the substance abused and the level of addiction of each
patient. Individuals with an unhealthy dependency on drugs rather than an acute physical addiction tend to recover more quickly. In some cases, a detoxification period can last less than a day. In other instances, a complete detox can last several weeks. Regardless of the duration of the detox period, detoxification is an ongoing process. Detoxification must be maintained by establishing healthy new habits to repair the damages caused by substance abuse, in addition to restructuring one’s lifestyle to prevent a relapse.

Is detox the same for alcohol and other drugs?

The concept of detoxification and the goals that it strives to achieve are essentially the same for
patients recovering from alcohol or other drugs. However, due to the chemical changes in the
body and the psychological effects of extended drug abuse, withdrawal symptoms during
detoxification can be much more intense for patients recovering from harder drugs or abusing
multiple substances. As a result, the recovery period varies. Detoxification can be much more
challenging and longer lasting for certain patients.

Can I just detox myself?

Detoxification by oneself can be a dangerous choice. For many patients, detoxing should not be an abrupt change and requires gradual tapering off of the substance abused. Detoxification can cause intense physical and psychological reactions, including unhealthy changes in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue. In severe cases, detoxification can cause hallucinations, fainting, psychosis, and even coma and death. If you feel you need to detox from a drug addiction, seeking medical support is your best option to ensure proper, guided recovery from your substance abuse.

should i go to a detox facilityWhy should I go to a detox facility?

You should go to a detox facility if your substance abuse has placed aspects of your personal life,
your professional life, or your health in jeopardy. Going to a detox facility means that you
recognize that you have a problem that requires intervention. A detox facility will adequately prepare you for withdrawal symptoms, in addition to offering medical services and interventions to facilitate the process. Furthermore, detox facilities will establish a network of support in your recovery. Physicians, therapists, counseling services, and even other patients undergoing the same process will be there alongside you for assistance. Receiving help from a detox facility will also empower you to continue your recovery upon release from your treatments.

What is outpatient detox?

Outpatient detoxification centers treat patients for their addictions during daytime hours and permit their patients to return home each evening. Typically, patients of outpatient detox do not require intensive care. Their addictions are less severe, they have ample at-home support, and there are no additional medical issues that can compromise successful detoxification. Because an outpatient program is nonresidential, the costs tend to be lower per treatment, ranging from $100 to $500. Outpatient services cause fewer disruptions to a patient’s everyday routines. Patients can maintain personal and professional obligations and are granted more liberties during their detox than inpatient services.

How is outpatient detox different from inpatient?

Inpatient detox is often a necessity for patients recovering from severe addictions and substance abuse. Patients may have further health complications or be at a higher risk of the detoxification process triggering dangerous physical responses that require immediate medical care. Inpatient services provide residential programs with 24-hour medical attention and other comforts and amenities, which can vary by facility. The costs are higher for inpatient services than they are for outpatient services. Contingent upon the facility, costs can be double that of outpatient detox, costing up to $1000 per day. Inpatient detox provides optimal circumstances to remove a patient from conditions that would trigger substance abuse, allowing them to focus on recovery.

medications for detoxWhat kind of medications are used in detox?

During detoxification, a range of medications can be implemented to assist a patient in their recovery. Typically, benzodiazepines and antidepressants are used to help a patient combat common withdrawal symptoms. These medications can lessen the severity of nausea and vomiting, alleviate headaches, decrease rapid heart rate, and lower a fever. For patients with severe withdrawal, these medications can also reduce the risk of hallucinations, convulsions, and delirium tremens. Opioid agonists and antagonists can also be used for patients recovering from abuse of narcotics. These medications can lessen the pain induced during detox and prevent a patient’s brain from being able to achieve a high from the substances abused.

Should I go to a rehab facility after detox?

Depending on your recovery plan, seeking further services from a rehabilitation facility may be required to recover from drug addiction fully. Rehabilitation facilities are designed to provide patients with the proper environment and training to return to their daily lives with the skills necessary to avoid a relapse. Rehabilitation facilities can help patients establish new, healthy routines, recognize patterns that trigger substance abuse, and work toward mending relationships that drug abuse may have damaged. Patients who attend rehab facilities after detoxification receive strategies to stay clean and sober for life.

Can I use my phone or iPad while I am in detox?

Rules regarding technology usage may vary based on the facility. Although some facilities do
permit patients to use personal devices during detoxification, they are generally viewed as a
distraction from the primary objective of recovery. However, many personal devices can grant
patients access to support from family and friends outside of the facility, but they can also place
additional stressors on a recovering addict. Detoxification and recovery require full patient
attention and participation. Suppose a patient uses their device while detoxing. In that case, they
may be perceived as inattentive to medical staff, withdrawn from the overall process, and thus
only partially dedicated to their recovery.

paying for detoxWho pays for detox?

Of course, the patient can pay out of pocket for the services rendered at detoxification centers.
However, because it is considered a legitimate medical condition, drug addiction can be covered
by health insurance. Patients seeking drug detoxification should review their health insurance
plans and discuss with their providers what services are covered and to what extent. It may be
that a provider covers specific inpatient or outpatient treatments; however, comforts and
amenities at luxury detoxification centers will likely not be covered by insurance. In the case of
financial instability, detox centers can also offer payment plans to spread the cost of treatment
over several months instead of paying the total bill at once.

What is the average cost of detox?

As mentioned previously, detox costs can vary depending on whether the treatment is outpatient or inpatient. Also, the degree to which the detox center offers additional amenities to patients can influence cost. Prices for outpatient detox are generally more affordable, ranging from $100-$500 per treatment session. Inpatient treatment costs can be double the price of outpatient treatments as they are residential programs. Inpatient treatment centers can also offer additional amenities and services that can increase costs.

What about maintenance drugs?

Upon successful detoxification, an ongoing treatment plan can be discussed with your physician to alleviate additional withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for patients recovering from addiction to lessen anxiety and malaise. Vivitrol is a common injection available for patients recovering from alcohol and opioid abuse. Vivitrol is an antagonist medication that prevents the brain from feeling the positive effects of a drug. In the case of those recovering from heroin or other narcotics, Methadone is a common medication used to combat withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Patients should openly discuss with their doctors their specific concerns to create an ongoing treatment plan after detoxification.

relapse after detoxWhat are my chances of relapse after detox?

Detoxing from substance abuse to become sober cannot be perceived as a one-and-done event. Detoxification is an ongoing process that also includes establishing new, healthy habits and avoiding the situations that were triggers for your substance abuse in the past. Statistics show that patients who enter a detoxification facility have a 40% better chance of fully recovering from their addiction in comparison to those who do not. Nevertheless, the risks of everyday life are always out there, and some patients who detox relapse into addiction and have to start the entire process over again.

Will I get sick while in detox?

Detoxification is a shock to your system that causes a significant interruption to your body’s continued exposure to a toxic substance. As such, there are many common withdrawal symptoms that patients can experience while undergoing detoxification. Symptoms can vary in intensity based on the severity of a patient’s addiction in addition to the number of substances abused. Common withdrawal symptoms include nausea, increased heart rate, sleep disturbances, anxiety and depression, headaches, and fever. In the case of severe withdrawal symptoms, panic attacks,hallucinations, psychosis, and loss of consciousness can occur.

Will I be in pain while in detox?

In some cases, detoxification can cause physical pain and discomfort in addition to the symptoms addressed in the previous question. Pain can be mild, including muscle soreness, cramping, and chills. Pain, however, can be more intense for those recovering from opiate and narcotic abuse. Detoxification from these drugs can cause intense headaches, abdominal cramps, and even full-body muscle spasms and convulsions.