What is Detoxification?
Detox is usually the first step in an addiction treatment program. But it is not considered treatment alone.
Detoxification is the process of eliminating the body of drugs and/or alcohol and managing the accompanying symptoms of withdrawal.
Detoxing from alcohol and drugs each involves different methods. It’s important to seek help in a treatment center, hospital or clinic by professionally licensed and state certified professionals. Never trust the life of someone in the hand of a non-professional. It’s a life and death situation.
Alcohol withdrawal, for example, can cause severe health problems and can be fatal in some cases. Withdrawing from drugs like opiates can involve taking other drugs to lessen uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Patients are given a physical examination in a detox treatment facility. Vital signs (heart and blood pressure) are monitored along with blood chemistry tests. Because of severe dehydration from vomiting and sweating, patients are often given intravenous (IV) fluids.
Alcohol abused patients are often deficient in vitamins like thiamine and minerals such as magnesium, phosphate and sodium. These are given intravenously.
Some patients may require drugs (for example the benzodiazepines derivatives such as Valium). These are used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures—some of the same symptoms experienced in alcohol withdrawal.
Others may simply need to be monitored in a quiet room with little more than an IV.
Detoxification is an important first step for treating addiction. Methods vary slightly depending on the addiction. But all people should go through detox in a medical clinic, hospital or treatment center. Staff at these facilities can lessen withdrawal symptoms and monitor the health of the patient. This makes a safe and more successful step into a treatment program.