Medically-assisted detoxification is a vital part of inpatient rehabilitation because it helps a person beat their physical addiction and avoid painful withdrawal symptoms. But is it always an absolutely necessary first step? Does every drug require detoxification or is it possible to begin rehab without this lengthy process?
Detox Isn’t Always Necessary
The false concept that detoxification is always necessary in every drug addiction case is easy to understand: drug addiction is often thought of as a primarily physical problem. However, detoxification is rarely, if ever, required for quite a large number of drugs, including:
The reason detox isn’t necessary for these drug is simple: the withdrawal effects are either minimal to the point of non-existence or addiction is primarily psychological. That is especially true of marijuana, a drug that many persistent users take in order to self-medicate psychological problems. This doesn’t mean marijuana is physically safe: it still damages your lungs and kills brain cells. But it doesn’t carry a heavy risk of physical dependency.
What may surprise many people is that cocaine rarely, if ever, requires detoxification. There are a few reasons for that. The first is that cocaine is processed very quickly: it usually passes out of the system in a matter of hours, and in regular users, may leave as quickly as 30 minutes. And cocaine is, surprisingly, rarely physically addicting: it is usually more psychologically problematic.
Certain Drugs Do Require Detox
While detoxification procedures certainly won’t hurt you if you’re addicted to cocaine, the process is really only necessary for drugs that are physically addictive. These drugs work on the pleasure receptors in your mind and force your body to become reliant on them. These drugs include:
And while psychological addiction to these drugs is just as likely as physical addiction, the latter is often the most painful aspect for many. People who are addicted to these drugs are often psychologically prepared to quit, but can’t handle the painful withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Physical pain
- Increased blood pressure
- Delirium tremens
These symptoms often occur as quickly as eight hours after the last use and can last anywhere from three days to two weeks. Beyond these symptoms, your body will also scream out for the addictive substance: it crave it at high levels and make it incredibly hard to resist relapsing.
How Detox Helps In These Cases
Medically-assisted detox can help ease severe withdrawal and bring people safely out of harm’s way. Remember that withdrawal from physically addictive substances can be a life-threatening situation. Slow and medically-controlled detoxification helps remove substances from your system while minimizing your withdrawal dangers and helping you maintain a healthy state.
Controlled detox requires the use of replacement medicines. These medicines either simulate the effect of the drug in your system or repel your system from the effects of the drug. The doses of these replacement medicines will be slowly lowered during detox in order to wean you off your substance with as little pain as possible. Typical replacement medicines include:
It is important to note that detoxification is not meant as a way to replace one dangerous addiction with a less serious one. Yes, some of the substances used in treatment are addictive. But they are used only as a way to gradually help your system get used to life without them.
What If A Rehab Center Requires Detox?
If you experience a rehab center that demands detoxification before you undergo any other rehabilitation treatment, it’s worth reconsidering your attendance. While the center may offer a specialized treatment you may desire (such as yoga therapy), no treatment should ever force you to undergo detoxification if you don’t require it.
Just think of rehabilitation like any other kind of medical treatment. It is a process that is designed to identify a problem, the concerns that influence it, and to find a solution to that problem. Compare it to a heart bypass surgery. That surgery is designed to help avoid clogged veins and arteries and keep people from having a heart attack. Heart-ballooning (the process of literally inflating the heart) serves a similar purpose.
However, imagine if doctors forced you to get both procedures and refused to perform one without the other. It’s unthinkable and inappropriate, especially if you simply don’t need both procedures. Detoxification can be thought of in the same way: while it is a crucial tool in the fight against addiction, it isn’t always necessary. And using it without need is wasteful and potentially dangerous.
Talk To Us To Learn More
Confusion about the necessity of detox has plagued many in the addiction treatment world for years. However, it’s important to understand that it isn’t always a necessity. If you have any more questions about detox and whether it is right for your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us at TurningPointTreatment.org today. We will steer you towards finding a treatment plan that suits your addiction therapy needs.