Detox refers to the period of time after you stop using a drug and your body is working hard to rid itself of the poison left behind. Detox is a very difficult time when your physical withdrawal symptoms will be the strongest. These symptoms range in intensity from mild frustration and irritability, to life-threatening health issues, depending on the depth of your addiction and your drug of choice.
Detox is best managed under the care of professional medical personnel in an addiction recovery facility. They will have ways to help you through this time, and may even be able to give you medication to minimize the effects of detox. How to approach detox depends on your individual situation, and it’s essential to consult with a doctor to come up with a care plan before you embark on this difficult time. There are several different kinds of detox that can work on their own or together, none of which you should try on your own.
Some of the physical discomfort of detox can be eased using non-addictive medications. For instance, headaches can be treated with ibuprofen, and insomnia might be helped with a sleep aid. You’ll still feel the effects of detox with this type of intervention, but you’ll be able to take the edge off of some of the symptoms. Severe withdrawal symptoms may be eased using stronger medications under the constant supervision of medical personnel.
Medical detox is a longer-term regimen of prescription drugs that are meant to wean you off of your drug of choice more slowly so your body isn’t so shocked by the transition. This type of detox is used for opioid addicts who would be putting their health in serious danger by quitting drugs cold turkey.
A prescription of methadone or suboxone would be issued and then monitored carefully by a physician. These drugs give the body a limited dose of a substance similar to the drug of choice, and then the dosage is slowly tapered off over the course of weeks or months. The down side is that this type of detox takes longer than other types, but it’s the best option for those whose withdrawal process could be very painful, or even life threatening.
The quickest way to get through detox is to simply stop taking drugs, and then wait out the detox period. Detox usually begins within a few hours of your last dose of drugs, and lasts a few days or a week at most, depending on your drug of choice. While this type of detox may be the most uncomfortable, it is the easiest way for your body to get clean again. Medical personnel should closely monitor natural detox in case you need intervention. This type of detox is not suitable for everyone, since withdrawal symptoms can be so dangerous.
Lee Williams, CSW, SUDC, is licensed as a Substance Use Disorder Counselor and a Certified Social Worker. Lee has actively worked in a 12-step approach to the treatment of substance abuse disorder for over a decade. In addition to his love for working in the field of addiction, Lee’s greatest joys are in his experiences as a husband and father.