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Drug Detox

The process of drug detox, is central to the treatment programs employed by many drug rehab centres. Drug detox occurs in the period directly after the affected person stops taking the substance, and is characterised by psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can vary in severity, therefore in some cases medical attention may be required to facilitate safe detox. If you’re considering drug rehab, finding out about the detox process can give you an idea of what to look for in a centre.

Drug detox occurs because dependence on a substance often causes physiological changes within the brain. The process is called neuroadaptation, and causes the brain cells or the ways in which they function to change. The brain’s adaptation to the chemical explains why habitual drug users need more and more of their chosen substance to feel the same effects. It also shows why physical dependence can occur, because the brain becomes reliant on the drug’s effects to function.

The effects of drug detox are usually the reverse of the drug’s effects. For example, heroin can cause constipation, reduced anxiety, euphoria and insensitivity to pain, and heroin detox causes diarrhoea, anxiety, depression and pain. Drugs which are short-acting, like heroin, usually cause withdrawal symptoms straight away, but longer-acting drugs such as diazepam can delay the onset of withdrawal symptoms for a few days. Some people can also suffer from chronic abstinence syndrome, in which they experience withdrawal symptoms for as long as several months. For these reasons, each drug detox is different, and rehab centres have to tailor their treatment accordingly.

The basic aims of drug detox are simple. The most important is to provide safe withdrawal for the patient, which may require the prescription of other medications (which do not interact with the previously abused substance) to manage the symptoms. As part of this process, it’s also important to prepare the patient for a continued abstinence from the drug. Many users relapse after detox, so rehab centres need to focus on the continued effort required when battling addiction. All of this has to be done whilst maintaining the person’s dignity, because detox can be a difficult time for everybody concerned.

It is important to remember that drug detox is not sufficient in itself to combat addiction. Detox relates to the immediate physical and mental impacts of withdrawal from a substance, and not the more complex circumstances or issues which caused the original propensity for addiction. One reason that relapses are common is that users often feel that all they need to do is make it through detox and then they will be free of the substance. The truth is that to beat a drug addiction, you need to identify the broader issues which contribute to your problem, and be able to maintain the same level of determination you had during detox.

The choice between different drug rehab facilities should be made with this information in mind. Normally, drug detox will already be underway when people are admitted to rehab, but the facilities have to provide sufficient support to ensure a safe transition to a sober life. Not only do medical needs have to be safely addressed, a certain level of psychological support is important during detox.  Drug rehab centres are particularly well set up to deal with this requirement, because there is 24-hour medical care in a psychologically supportive, positive environment.

If you are having difficulty choosing between rehab centres, I offer free advice and can help you choose the most suitable facility. Drug detox is an integral part of the road to sobriety, and it’s important that to choose a centre with suitable facilities. I also provide one-to-one telephone counselling if you need additional help, but there is a fee for that service. Feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss the options available to you through this difficult time.