Detoxification – What to Expect

What to Expect During Drug and Alcohol Detox

You have made the decision to get sober with the help of an alcohol or drug detox treatment. Congratulations! You are on your way to a life in recovery, but at this moment your mind is probably racing, with lots of questions and concerns about what to expect during drug and alcohol detox. Everyone has questions and what you are experiencing is normal. Here are some common questions to help you be prepared.

What Is Detoxification?

Detoxification (detox) is the process of removing the chemical toxins from the body that have collected from drug and/or alcohol use. Although some people are able to stop their substance use without any assistance, most find that they need the help of a professional medical detox treatment.

Will Detox Hurt?

It is possible that you have heard stories of painful detox and people leaving before the process is complete, only to return to their substance use. The truth is that the first few days of detox can be scary if you do not know what to expect.

Son and mom Addiction hopeWithdrawal symptoms are the result of stopping drug and/or alcohol use. Basically the body wants something it is no longer getting and it rebels through withdrawal symptoms, which can vary in degree from mild, to moderate, to very painful; depending on the severity and type of substance abuse or addiction.

The key to making it through withdrawal and successfully completing the detox is in the method used during the process. Most traditional detox treatments rely on oral medications that take a long time to be processed in the body and to become active. During the processing period the individual is forced to endure the withdrawal symptoms until the medication is working.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include physical and psychological symptoms such as:

  • Shakes/tremors
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety/ irritability/depression
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens or the DTs

Drug withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Constipation/diarrhea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety/irritability
  • Seizures

Some advances detox centers incorporate IV Therapy throughout the detoxification process.  IV therapy is an integral part of some detox methods – along with a proprietary blend of medications – because it is often immediately effective. IV therapy delivers the medication directly into the blood stream with no waiting period. This means that as the patient’s withdrawal symptoms change, the medication can be adjusted to meet the patient’s symptoms. The result is the patient remains comfortable throughout the detox process and can successfully complete it and continue to the next phase of recovery.

How Long Does Detox Last?

mountainOne of the biggest misconceptions regarding detox is that people mistake it for rehab. Detox is the first stop and is where you go to get sober… rehab is where to go to learn how to stay sober.

The time it takes to detox depends on the substance abuse. For example alcohol detox usually takes from three to five days, but it can sometimes take a little longer. Detoxing from certain types of prescription painkillers can take from seven to ten days. Other prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines can take ten days or longer, depending on the severity of drug use.

Although detox is not necessary for everyone, most people find that an inpatient medical detox treatment can help them get sober and it gives them a fresh start for long-term recovery.

Can I Afford Detox?

If your life – or your loved ones’ life – has been plagued with bad decisions regarding substance abuse, or if there has been a breakdown in relationships, perhaps job loss and/or legal problems… the question to ask is how can you not afford detox.

The cost of a drug or alcohol detox treatment will depend on the type of program you choose. Some programs are funded by the government and can be very inexpensive – even free in some cases. Keep in mind however that most of those programs rely on oral medications that take a long time to become active and you will have to endure the withdrawal symptoms.

If you have health insurance, changes in healthcare laws (the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act) requires insurance providers to extend the same amount of coverage for substance use disorders as they pay for other medical illnesses.

As a result, most insurance plans have a set amount that they will pay for detox. You may be responsible for a co-pay or deductible or percentage of the bill, but at least you will be covered for a portion of the treatment.

Also important is that many facilities offer discounts to patients paying cash in advance, scholarships or a sliding fee scale based on financial need and almost all of them work with a finance company to help cover the balance of the bill.

If you need drug or alcohol detox to get sober so that you can be a better parent, family member, friend, employee or student – or if you need detox treatment so that you can take back control of your life from alcohol and drug abuse – you are worth the investment!

After Alcohol and Drug Detox is Complete, What’s Next?

Man at lake edge gazing at mountainAfter successfully completing alcohol and/or drug detox treatment, many people experience certain psychological withdrawal symptoms long after the physical withdrawal symptoms have stopped.

Following-up detox treatment with a rehab program, behavioral therapy or counseling, or participation in a community support group such as a 12-Step or non 12-Step program is not only a good idea, but it can help reinforce your success in long-term recovery!