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What is a Detox Center?

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What is a detox center?

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) estimated that 19.7 million American adults, aged 12 or above, suffered through substance use disorder in 2017. Addiction treatment and detox process is paramount to ensure the long-term safety and health of young Americans, which is why medically assisted detox at detox centers can be so helpful.

Detox centers are essential to the journey of sobriety. With the help of licensed medical professionals and therapists, patients can effectively learn to combat drug and alcohol addiction and other forms of substance abuse. More importantly, detox centers play a vital role and equipping patients to persist through painful withdrawal symptoms.

You may have heard the term ‘detox centers’ many times, but their benefits and uses are above and beyond any definition when it comes to addiction treatment. After all, newly found sobriety can be extremely uncomfortable and there is a greater risk of relapsing if proper care and attention is not provided. This is why detoxing alone is highly discouraged.

Detox centers provide round-the-clock supervision from expert doctors, clinical professionals, psychologists, nursing staff, life coaches, etc., to ensure a healthy and long-term recovery which also helps you overcome mental health issues and other physical symptoms.

What is a detox center?

As defined by the Washington Circle Group (WCG), detoxification is “a medical intervention that manages an individual safely through the process of acute withdrawal”. Detox centers provide a thorough treatment process to help patients achieve their short term sobriety goals.

The statement continues, claiming that “a detoxification program is not designed to resolve the long-standing psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with alcohol and drug abuse”, but it remains an essential step towards a long-term sober lifestyle.

Without proper detoxification, patients may not be able to enroll in rehabilitation centers. For rehab to begin, you must first enter a full state of detoxification to wash out all the addictive substances from your body.

Detox centers are fully medically supervised facilities that are equipped to handle all symptoms related to substance abuse. It is the first phase of recovery and is crucial to leading a healthier, drug-free lifestyle. There are outpatient facilities, as well as inpatient detox centers.

The initial detoxification process can be quite challenging and takes a toll on the mind and body when you go ‘cold turkey’. This is especially hard when cleansing out alcohol and drugs such as benzodiazepines, and more serious drugs such as meth, cocaine, and heroine. If not administered under the care and supervision of a medical professional, detox can also be extremely dangerous, and possibly fatal.

Purging out these hard drugs and alcohol from the system requires will power and a discipline of the mind and body, which detox centers are fully equipped to help build. Withdrawal symptoms can be straining and may lead to anger, desperation, grief, self-abuse and harm, extreme mood fluctuations, etc.

With intensive care and a carefully administered detox process, you can summon the will and courage to battle the strong shackles and pull of addiction. Successful detox can also help you transition to a specialized inpatient treatment center at a residential rehabilitation program, or outpatient care such as part-hospitalization programs, depending on your progress, withdrawal symptoms, and doctor’s recommendations.

How are detox centers different from residential rehabilitation programs?

Detox centers are temporary treatment facilities that work to purge your system from addictive substances such as drugs and alcohol. This drug detox may take several weeks, but once you have successfully made it through, the second phase is enrolling in a rehabilitation program or “rehab”.

Rehab helps you achieve long-term sobriety goals and is crucial after a detoxification process. If you choose not to go to rehab after a successful detox, you may risk relapsing. Rehabilitation treatment centers may be inpatient programs or outpatient facilities.

Inpatient rehab requires patients to enroll in the facility and stay for a particular duration. These are fully monitored by an expert medical team including clinicians, physicians, clinical staff, psychiatrists, psychologists, lifestyle coaches, nurses, holistic care providers, nutritionists, etc. With thorough medical supervision, patients learn to overcome substance abuse and combat the physical effects as well as mental health challenges of detoxing.

These inpatient centers also offer access to gyms, cafeterias where meals are prepped according to the recommendations of your nutritionist, swimming pools, libraries, computer labs, reading rooms, etc. There is 24 hour supervision to keep track of your behavioral health conditions, withdrawal effects of substance use, and physical effects as well. They also provide alternative therapies to help you on your journey to recovery.

Outpatient care is less intensive as you are not required to stay at the facility. Instead, patients are required to visit healthcare professionals and psychologists for at least a few hours a week. Addiction medicine may be administered under careful supervision as well. In intensive outpatient programs, you may need to attend the center more frequently and there is also more supervision. Regardless of which you choose, you should always research on the differences between inpatient and outpatient rehabs.

A detox treatment center is a crucial step towards rehabilitation. Without a complete drug and alcohol detox, you may still have lingering physical dependence on these harmful drugs. For a successful recovery, patients must undergo treatment at detox centers and work toward a long term treatment program.

What is the intake process for detox programs?

If you or your loved one is looking to enroll in a drug and alcohol detox program to combat severe addictions, then it is important to first understand the intake process and how you can join.

the first step is having a conversation with the intake manager about your history of drug or alcohol abuse, as well as your needs, logistical barriers, etc. You will also be asked to complete a series of forms and documents to provide all the important information for the medical staff so they can prepare a unique tailored plan that suits your needs and substance use history.

Being transparent is key here. When you are filling these forms, it is important to be honest and clear to fully reap the benefits of the detox program. Provide as many details as possible to avoid health risks, complications, or wrong prescriptions. These details help your physicians and clinical staff to devise a plan that is solely based on your addiction treatment and current needs. Be clear if you are addicted to more than one substance or if you have undergone a surgery, illness, or mental health treatment. This allows the team to take all important factors and history into consideration to put together your treatment plan.

The journey to sobriety is anything but easy. Acknowledging your addictive patterns and the need for detoxification is the first step towards a successful recovery. Accepting that you need help does not make you any smaller; in fact, it helps trained medical professionals aid you in battling symptoms of withdrawal and overcoming psychological challenges.

Are prescribed treatment medications part of detoxification?

Depending on the answers provided during the intake assessment and after careful evaluation by doctors and therapists about the severity of addiction, you may receive medication to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and to help create ease in the beginning phases of detoxification.

Some common medications prescribed during this time may include antidepressants to helps lessen nausea, insomnia, delirium tremens, headaches, etc., if you are addicted to alcohol. Opioid agonists create similar, but mild effects of opioids. These do not go above a threshold and work to slowly take your system off hard opioids. Additionally, opioid antagonists hinder the functions of opioid receptors in the brain so your body rejects all exposure to opioids and you do not feel the euphoric sensations given by them.

Are detox programs safe?

A detox center provides an extremely safe and reliable environment for sufferers of addiction. They also provide the optimal conditions to help prevent relapse or triggering mental illness. They are also held to the highest standards of quality and professionalism, so you can rest assured that your medical history will always be confidential and safe.

Detox facilities must also meet specific requirements to function in the United States. A license is mandatory for any detox center if it provides services such as alcohol recovery, treatment planning, detoxification, group education, etc.

What can medical detox centers provide that other programs cannot?

A specialized medical detox facility provides access to trained teams including nurses and other clinical staff who monitor your progress 24/7 and also help prepare a unique and specific program for your individual needs.

These centers also have the means to assess and fully understand the state and severity of your addiction which other programs may not be able to do without proper expert help. They can refer you to support groups, educational seminars, etc., that can aid you in your recovery.

Detox programs must also hold up to high standards and ensure that your information is secure and confidential. They offer medically supervised detox facilities that have a higher success rate than any other holistic technique.


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Charleston South Carolina

Charleston South Carolina

Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.