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What Is Drug Detox and Why Should It Always Be Followed by Rehab?


Drug addiction is notoriously difficult to overcome because of the way this illness affects the structure of the brain and how this organ functions. But those who do want to put their days of substance abuse behind them once and for all are going to require a drug detox in order to get to the stage where they are ready to begin a programme of rehabilitation. But what is drug detox and how will it feel? These are questions that those who are hoping to overcome a drug addiction often ask. It is common for individuals to be afraid of a drug detox, particularly if they do not know what to expect. In this article, we aim to give you an explanation of what drug detox is and why it is imperative that it should be followed by rehab.

Who Needs Drug Detox?

Many people assume that drug addiction is an illness that only affects those who abuse illegal drugs such as heroin or cocaine. It is true that abuse of illegal drugs can quickly lead to addiction, but it is also true that other substances can equally cause addiction. Prescription drugs and some over-the-counter medications are also capable of causing addiction with those abusing them being in desperate need of a drug detox without even realising.

It is very difficult for most people to comprehend the fact that a drug detox and programme of rehabilitation may be required by those who have never touched an illegal drug. After all, how could a medication prescribed by a doctor for a genuine medical condition be addictive and capable of causing so much harm?

The reality is that prescription drugs are highly addictive and should only be prescribed over a short period of time to treat conditions such as severe pain or sleep problems. However, in certain cases these drugs may be prescribed over an extended period when the benefits outweigh the risks.

It is important to realise that prescription medication can be dangerous and highly addictive when abused. Those who are taking medication that was prescribed for another person are in danger of developing addictions that could leave them in need of a drug detox, as are those who take more of the medication than advised by their doctor. Nevertheless, even people that take prescription drugs exactly as prescribed could end up struggling with addiction.

Just like other mood-altering substances such as illegal drugs and alcohol, prescription drugs can lead to an increased tolerance. This means that the user’s body adapts to the presence of the drugs by producing fewer feel-good chemicals. When this happens, the individual will no longer achieve the same results when taking the drugs. They may then start to increase their dose to the point where their body starts to crave the drug whenever the effects wear off. The more of the drug the person takes, the more their body wants it and the affected individual will eventually be unable to quit even if he or she wanted to. At this stage, the person has developed an addiction, and for most, the only way to quit is with a drug detox.

So What is Drug Detox?

Drug addiction has two elements – a physical addiction and a psychological addiction. It is essential that those who want to recover from a drug addiction tackle the physical side of their illness first. A drug detox begins when the person stops taking the substance to which he or she is addicted. It is a natural process but it can be quite complicated.

It must be pointed out here that those who are planning to stop taking drugs and try to tackle their addiction should always seek advice first. As dangerous as it is to abuse drugs of any kind, it is equally dangerous to suddenly stop taking these substances. For most, a supervised detox in a dedicated facility is the best choice for a full recovery. There are some people who would prefer to detox at home, but because of the risk of complications, it is far safer and much more comfortable under supervision in a detox facility.

The way that detox will affect the individual will differ depending on a range of factors. The type of substance that was being abused, the person’s physical and mental health, and their age can all play a role in the type of detox experienced.

What is Detox Like?

After years of substance abuse, the body will react when the supply of drugs is suddenly cut off. The brain and body will go into overdrive when the realisation that the usual dosage is not forthcoming. As the body tries to get back to some semblance of normality, various withdrawal symptoms will occur, which tend to make the individual feel quite unwell.

Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, with most people only ever suffering moderate symptoms that feel similar to having the flu. Nonetheless, there is always the risk of severe symptoms manifesting during a drug detox, but it is not possible to predict what type of symptoms a person will experience or how severe these will be before the detox begins. It is for this reason that a supervised detox is usually the best option.

A detox programme in a supervised facility usually lasts for between seven and ten days. During this time, the patient will be cared for and monitored as the drug detoxification progresses. For most, the earliest symptoms of the withdrawal will begin around six to twelve hours after the drug was last taken. Early symptoms can include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headaches
  • sweating
  • shaking
  • mood swings.

As the detox progresses, the affected individual may find that the symptoms get more severe and could include hallucinations, diarrhoea, confusion, and insomnia. Symptoms tend to reach a peak before they start to subside.

In a supervised facility, medical staff can make the patient much more comfortable by prescribing certain medications if appropriate. In many instances, they can head off the worst symptoms with nutritional supplements. In the event of an emergency, they will be able to quickly react and will have the equipment necessary to treat the patient accordingly.

Why Detox Should Always be Followed by Rehab

It is easy to be convinced that you are cured if you complete a detox programme and have been clean for a number of weeks. Completing a detox is a fantastic accomplishment and should always be seen as such, but it is important to remember that it is never enough when it comes to overcoming a drug addiction fully.

The reason for this is that a detox only addresses the physical side of the illness. It is designed to break the bond between the user and the substance and allow the person to have a clear mind and body before rehab treatment can begin.

No matter how great one feels after completing a detox, he or she is unlikely to continue feeling this way. It is very common for those in recovery to suffer with ups and downs, especially in the early days. It must be remembered that the issues that caused the addiction in the first place will still be there, and unless these are addressed with a programme of rehabilitation, the affected person could find him or herself reverting to type and returning to drug use when life get difficult. The natural response to difficulties over the years has been to take drugs, so it would make sense that the individual would continue to do this until getting help.

If you are the person in need of assistance, a programme of rehabilitation will help you learn the root cause of your addictive behaviour. You will be given the tools to help you avoid a return to this behaviour in the future. With counselling and therapy as well as various seminars and workshops, you can put your days of substance abuse to bed for good.

In a residential programme, you will stay in the clinic for around six to eight weeks, during which time, you will be away from the outside world and will have no access to temptations or triggers. You will live with other recovering addicts and will have constant access to care and support from a team of fully trained professionals and support staff.

Most experts consider inpatient programmes to be one of the best ways to get started on the road to recovery. This is because they are intensive and time-consuming and patients are forced to focus on their recovery. With no access to temptations and a distraction-free environment, patients have little choice but to get involved with the programme. Inpatient programmes have a fantastic record of success and are ideal for those with severe addictions or those with a chaotic home life where it would be almost impossible to stay sober if getting treated on a day care basis.

Outpatient programmes are also effective when it comes to helping individuals overcome their drug addictions. These programmes tend to be used as a follow-on programme for those who have completed a programme of inpatient treatment. They are also ideal for individuals who have less severe addictions and a strong support network in place at home.

Both inpatient and outpatient programmes utilise a range of treatments to help patients overcome their illnesses. These include:

  • one-to-one counselling
  • group therapy
  • motivational interviewing
  • contingency management
  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • 12-step work
  • dialectic behavioural therapy
  • family therapy.

In conjunction with the above traditional therapies, many clinics also utilise a range of holistic therapies to help heal the patient’s mind, body, and spirit. A fully comprehensive approach to recovery treats the whole person and not just the illness. Examples of holistic therapies include yoga, meditation, art therapy, mindfulness, and sports and music therapy.

If you would like to overcome an addiction but have been reluctant to reach out for help because you are fearful of what a detox would be like, contact us here at Addiction.org.uk. We can help to put your mind at ease by fully explaining what the procedure is like. We can also put you in touch with a suitable detox and rehabilitation provider where you will get the help you need to get better.

We urge you to get in touch with us today if you have been struggling with drug addiction for some time. The longer you wait, the worse your situation is going to become. You need to tackle your addiction sooner rather than later as failure to do so will mean your situation will definitely get worse.

Addiction.org.uk is available to help those with addiction and their family members. Call right now to speak to a fully qualified advisor who will provide helpful advice and information about addiction and how to overcome it.

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