What is a drug detoxification programme?

March 11th, 2011

A drug detoxification programme is the first step in finding active recovery from substance abuse or addiction.  It is the process whereby any remaining chemicals are flushed out of the body.  Treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction will invariably begin with some process of detoxification.
It is rare that an addiction treatment centre is unable to provide the detox service themselves and requires you to undertake this phase of treatment at a hospital or clinic that is equipped to offer detox services. Most quality addiction rehabs have the ability to complete alcohol and drug detoxifications on site.
Alcohol detoxification is sometimes referred to as “drying out”.  Even though it is freely available to the public, alcohol is actually one of the most physically dangerous substances to detoxify from.  Cigarette packs carry a warning that they can cause cancer, but bottles of alcohol don’t warn about the physical withdrawal symptoms of alcoholism which can include seizures, hallucinations, and even death!
This should serve as a stark warning to approach medical help when considering detoxification from alcohol. Please contact us to find your nearest alcohol and drug detox programme
Why is detox necessary for treatment?
It is necessary for patients to be properly detoxified before they join a therapeutic program for a number of reasons.
Firstly the safety of the new patient must be considered.  Alcohol and drug abuse can leave the person in a frail or compromised physical condition. Doctors must be sure that they are not at physical risk before allowing them to join the addiction treatment programme.  Withdrawal from alcohol, for example, can result in seizures.  It is best to minimize the risk of such problems as well as have medical staff on hand to deal with any emergency that may arise.
Secondly the treatment process of the therapeutic community must also be taken into account.  Being exposed to somebody who is under the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering substances can be disturbing and could even induce cravings for patients.  Furthermore group therapy requires the members to have a measure of sobriety in order to contribute meaningfully, and maximise the benefits gained.  Somebody who is high on drugs, or not having completed detoxification, is unlikely to have a positive impact on addictions group therapy.
So we can see that alcohol and drug detoxification is necessary because it prepares the person mentally and physically for an addiction treatment programme.
Why should I consult a doctor when considering detoxification?
Addiction and alcoholism have a range of symptoms.  Some of these are behavioural and others are physical.  The two physical symptoms of these illnesses are tolerance and the presence of withdrawal symptoms which arise as a result of physical dependence.
It is the presence of withdrawal symptoms that leads us to observe that it is best to have a doctor and nursing staff oversee drug and alcohol detoxification.
Some withdrawal symptoms are simply unpleasant, for example: shakes, sweating, cramps, anxiety, insomnia, or cold flushes.  These won’t result in death or permanent damage.  Of course these symptoms can be so unpleasant that a person will use drugs or drink alcohol just to avoid the detox.  Getting through drug detoxification without help means running this gauntlet and many people don’t get through.
Other withdrawal symptoms are dangerous or even life-threatening, for example: seizures and hallucinations.  We shouldn’t be alarmist and so lets note that death during detoxification is not a common occurrence, but it is a possibility.  This is especially true when you are drying out from alcohol or benzidiazepines or if your physical health is compromised.
Withdrawal symptoms occur because after long-term drug or alcohol abuse your body has become so accustomed to the presence of the drug or alcohol that it has become dependent on it.  In other words it requires a certain level of the drug or alcohol to be present to “feel normal”.  Doctors can help by prescribing short-term medication to ease this process.
To summarize, we can say that firstly you’re more likely to be able to get clean and sober with medical help and secondly you’re going to reduce the risks associated with drug detoxification.
If you want to stop using drugs or drinking alcohol but are finding it too difficult to do alone please don’t wait any longer and contact us today.

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