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ABOUT US is a not-for-profit resource for the community, connecting people to addiction treatment and education resources. You can find information on addiction and treatment as well as detailed information on treatment centers nationwide. Our main goal is to provide a comprehensive resource for individuals who are seeking treatment regardless of their situation.

Addiction Detox

The drug and alcohol detox process can prove to be dangerous. It is for this reason that you should consider going for medically supervised detox services to reduce your risk of suffering adverse withdrawal symptoms.

Brief Definition

Addiction detox refers to the process by which all the drugs and alcohol that are still in your system will be removed from your body. This process is important when you get started on the recovery journey from addiction. This is because many addictive substances will remain in your system for several days - or even weeks - since you last took them.

In many cases, the detox process tends to be uncomfortable and sometimes painful. This is because your body will start displaying some withdrawal symptoms as it tries to adjust to the absence of drugs in its system.

These withdrawal symptoms can range from the mild to the dangerous and even the life-threatening. For instance, there is a risk that they could be accompanied by stroke and seizures.

To this end, many addiction recovery programs will often provide medical detox services. This way, you will be able to withdraw from your substances of abuse in a controlled medical environment. Similarly, you will always be under the care and supervision of qualified medical staff.

The monitoring provided through this process will ensure that you are able to comply with your detox process, as well as keep up with the treatment program that has been created for you.

Who Is This Type Of Treatment Best For?

If you have been abusing drugs and/or alcohol for a long time period, your body would typically have developed tolerance and dependence on these substances. Additionally, your brain would have gotten used to the effects of these substances. As a result, your system will adapt to the presence of drugs and alcohol so that it can continue functioning as it normally does.

In many cases, ongoing substance abuse will give rise to tolerance. This means that you will get to a point where you find that you need to take drugs in higher doses or more frequently than you used to before you can experience their pleasurable effects.

Eventually, tolerance will be replaced by dependence. As a result, your body will increasingly require the presence of the substances of abuse that you were taking before it can function and feel normal.

When you get to this stage and you stop using drugs or drinking alcohol, your body will react in negative ways. It might try to tell you that it requires these substances through a wide variety of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms might include vomiting, fevers, headaches, and drug cravings.

As a result of these symptoms, you might have a difficult time abstaining from drugs and alcohol for a long time. It is for this reason that you are advised to go through a medical detox program if you are serious about quitting your substance abuse.

Through this detox process, your body will start learning how to function without the presence of drugs and alcohol. As a result, your cravings for these substances ? as well as the withdrawal symptoms that you have been feeling ? will start subsiding.

If your addiction is less severe, you may be able to go through the detox with minimal supervision and some medications. This means that you may be able to benefit from an outpatient medical detox program.

However, if your substance use disorder is severe or long standing, it is recommended that you check into an inpatient detox center. This way, you will be able to get the medical assistance and round the clock supervision and care that you need to manage your withdrawal symptoms.

That said, addiction detox can also be useful if you are dependent on or addicted to any of the following substances - because they can cause adverse symptoms of withdrawal:

  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines (including Ativan, Valium, Xanax, and Halcion)
  • Drugs containing THC (including hashish and marijuana)
  • Hypnotic and sedative drugs (like benzodiazepines and barbiturates)
  • Opioids (fentanyl, oxycodone, OxyContin, hydrocodone, and heroin)
  • Prescription stimulants (including Ritalin and Adderall)
  • Stimulants (like crystal meth and cocaine)
  • Synthetic drugs (like bath salts, Spice, and K2)

If you are addicted to any of these substances and you suddenly stop using them, there is a high risk that you could suffer some adverse withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms might range from the significantly uncomfortable and painful to the fatal. The severity of your symptoms will largely depend on the drugs that you used to abuse, the chronicity of your substance abuse, and your medical history.

Detox might also be necessary if you display any signs of withdrawal after quitting drugs and alcohol. Examples of these symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite changes
  • Coma
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Hypersomnia
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Pain
  • Seizure
  • Strong drug cravings
  • Vomiting

How Long Is Addiction Detox?

Like many other types of addiction treatment types, there is no universal timeframe during which you can complete the detox process. In some cases, it might take you a couple of hours or several days. However, you may also have to spend weeks or months to completely go through the entire process.

There are many factors that will dictate the total duration of your medical detox. These include but are not limited to:

  • Any other underlying mental health disorders or conditions that you may also have
  • Any previous attempts you might have made to detox your body
  • Duration of your addiction
  • Method of drug abuse (swallowing, snorting, injecting, or smoking)
  • The amount or volume of drugs that you used to take at any given time
  • The detox setting you choose
  • The dose of drugs you used to take
  • The duration of your substance use
  • The presence of poly-drug abuse
  • The rate of substance abuse
  • The severity of your substance use disorder, or addiction
  • The state of your health and wellness
  • Type(s) of drugs that you are addicted to
  • Your family history
  • Your genetic makeup
  • Your medical condition
  • Your personal goals and aims

According to SAMHSA - the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - however, the detox process should typically take an average of about 8 days or less.

However, there are certain substances of abuse that might require longer before they can be cleared from your system. This is because they are long acting. Examples of these drugs include buprenorphine and methadone. If you are addicted to these substances, you will typically go through a tapering detox process - which will require that you spend longer in the medical facility.

Average Cost of Detox

In much the same way that the duration of your drug and alcohol detox will vary based on many factors, you can also expect that the cost of this type of treatment will also vary widely based on the same factors.

The cost of detox can also be affected by the type of recovery program that you choose. For instance, if you go through detox on an inpatient basis, it might be charged as part of the inpatient drug rehab program that you chose. This means that you will pay upon checking out of the facility. On the other hand, if you opt for outpatient drug detox, you may end up paying less than if you had chosen inpatient treatment.

In many cases, however, insurance providers will cover the cost of detox. Even so, you still need to keep in mind that you may have to pay for some services out of pocket. This will largely depend on the program that you choose and the health plan that you have.

Often, you will find that insurance providers only cover services that are considered to be medically necessary. As a result, they will often look at the specific situation in which you find yourself before determining the types of treatments that you are qualified to receive.

Other ways you can pay for the cost of detox would be out of pocket, through your personal savings, getting assistance from some addiction treatment programs, going for free drug detox services, or fundraising among your friends and peers.

How Do I Go About Finding Detox Programs?

There are some things that you need to keep in mind while shopping around for a professional medical detox program. Examples include:

  • Determining if you are going to need outpatient or inpatient detox services
  • How the program develops its treatment plans
  • If the program offers round the clock medical supervision, support, and care
  • If the staff members are accredited and licensed
  • If you will be able to receive medical detox services, just in case you are going to need them
  • If you will be able to receive visitors during your treatment
  • Referral services, if any, for continued treatment programs that you may need
  • The duration of the detox program
  • The Location of the detox center
  • The reputation and reviews written about the program
  • The success rate of the program
  • The types of insurance plans that the program accepts


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