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detox FAQs

Should drug detox be considered a cure for addiction?

Drug detox is not a cure, and it does not do anything to remove the addiction and the underlying issues connected to the addiction. Countless factors drive someone to abuse drugs or alcohol, and these problems cannot be solved during a three day or even one-week detox program. However, there is this common misconception that drug detox is all that the addict needs. Most addicts who have never attempted drug treatment are convinced that all they need to do is detox and get sober. Drugs and alcohol are powerfully addictive and consume the person physically and emotionally. There are over 20 million people addicted to drugs and alcohol in the United States and only a small percentage receive help. An even lower percentage perceive the actual need for help and actively seek it out. If you are that person seeking out drug treatment, you will want to spend the time to get it right the first time. Drug detox is only the first step and will not solve all aspects of your drug addiction.

Inpatient drug detox is the first step that an addict will take before they enter a drug rehab center. These are highly structured environments providing medical supervision, helping an addict through the most challenging withdrawal pain. Several factors determine the length of time required in a detox. These factors include the specific drugs being used, the length of the addiction, and the amount of drugs being consumed, and the combination of different drugs. Most detox centers also consider the initial health of the patient, such as any underlying medical problems that would cause issues during detox. There are many physical symptoms expected during detox and the withdrawal process. These symptoms vary depending on the severity of the addiction.

Addicts going through detox will have elevated senses, and increased sensitivity to pain, along with being agitated and irritable. People going through detox will suffer from mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Insomnia is also a problem, along with restlessness and an inability to focus. Depending on the type of drug, there are also flu-like symptoms, sweating, chills, muscle weakness, body aches, and hot flashes. Addicts also struggle with changes in appetite, whether it has increased or decreased. Detox is not the cure for addiction but instead helps an addict establish a base to work off of when they go through drug rehab. An addict needs to be stable physically and mentally before they start therapy.

Detoxification Before Treatment is Important

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration notes that detoxification, in and of itself, does not constitute complete substance abuse treatment. Detox is essential, whether it is a medical detox provider or a standard detox provider. Usually, the detoxification process consists of three components, evaluation, stabilization, and fostering patient readiness for further treatment. The greatest difficulty that many detox providers have is getting the patient convinced they need more treatment. Overall, the detox process is different for each person, and it can last a couple of days or a week or more. Once detox is complete, physically, the person feels better and has a clearer mind and body.

However, there are still underlying issues and reasons why they started to abuse drugs or alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the goal of treatment is to return the person to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and community. It has been proven that individuals who remain in treatment will stop using drugs, decrease criminal activity, and improve occupational, social, and psychological functioning. Detoxification is the first step and prepares the person mentally and physically.

Family Intervention Can Be an Option

Most families struggle to get their loved ones convinced they need help. The average addict is in denial about their addiction and refuses help when it is offered to them. Family intervention persuades the drug-addicted individual to accept treatment. An intervention is a carefully planned process done with family, friends, and a professional interventionist. The result of an intervention is offering a prearranged treatment plan with clear steps, goals, and guidelines. Also, the family is prepared to present consequences if the addict does not accept treatment. Tough love may seem difficult at first, but it demonstrates the severity of the situation and helps the family regain control.

Family intervention typically works by contacting a professional interventionist, making a plan, gathering information, forming an intervention team, deciding on consequences, noting what to say, and holding the intervention. Usually, an intervention is a two-day process, and the first day is spent with the family, preparing them for everything to come. The second day is when the intervention occurs, and the goal is to get the addict into treatment.

Sources-Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2006. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45.) Executive Summary. Available from:

“How effective is drug addiction treatment?.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 3 Jun. 2020,

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