Medically Supervised Detox is Necessary for Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol and drug abuse continue to be on the rise in our country, and recent statistics indicate that as many as 23 million Americans are addicted to some form of alcohol or drugs. Sadly, it’s also been estimated that only 11% of addicts will receive the type of treatment necessary to recover successfully from their addiction. For serious alcohol addiction, a medically supervised detox program is recommended to help facilitate the process and speed recovery. What is a medically supervised alcohol detox program? What occurs during this type of program? What are the steps involved in a supervised alcohol detox program and how is it completed?
Getting and staying sober is very challenging, but with the right support network and tools, it's completely attainable.
What is a Medically Supervised Detox?
In terms of treating addiction, detoxification refers to the process of eliminating all traces of the specific drug or alcohol from the body while managing the effects of withdrawal from the agent that was being used. Since abruptly quitting the use of certain drugs can result in painful, uncomfortable, or frightening symptoms within the body, medical supervision during this process can make it much easier and safer for the individual. It should be noted that detoxification in and of itself is not treatment, but it may be considered the first step in getting a problem with addiction under control.
Benefits of a Medically Supervised Alcohol Detox
Who can benefit from this type of detoxification program and how? Any patient who is having a difficult time discontinuing the use of alcohol on their own could benefit from a detoxification program. In a medically supervised setting, the patient is under the care of qualified physicians at all times to minimize discomfort and negative symptoms associated with detox.
A detoxification program can provide these benefits and much more:
- Ease discomfort associated with the withdrawal process
- Intervene in any serious medical situations that may arise
- Offer emotional support and a strengthening lifeline to those battling addiction
- Help the individual get through the difficult months following the discontinuation of alcohol by following up with alcohol treatment
- Help the individual reform bad habits and set themselves up for continued success with addiction treatment
A supervised detoxification program is both safe and effective. When successfully completed, this type of program can drastically reduce the individual’s odds of a relapse, as well as prevent unnecessary physical discomfort associated with the withdrawal from various addictive compounds.
Why Quitting Cold-Turkey is Never Recommended
Many alcohol users may initially consider quitting cold-turkey or detoxing at home. However easy it may sound at the time, this is not recommended for several reasons. First of all, attempting to stop using an addictive substance cold-turkey can lead to serious and even life-threatening physical symptoms in many cases. Seizures and other physical issues have been reported that can be dangerous or potentially deadly. Secondly, however, this type of action can result in hard-core withdrawal symptoms that make it easier for the person to succumb to relapse, meaning they start abusing the drug yet again just to experience relief from the bothersome symptoms. This can create a vicious cycle that keeps the individual stuck in a pattern of addiction for years or even decades. Medically supervised withdrawal and detox programs can take the guesswork out of the process and combined with further treatment, can result in a successful resolution of the underlying addiction, not simply a treatment of the surface symptoms.
What is the Process Involved in a Medically Supervised Detoxification?
A medically supervised detoxification program generally takes place in an inpatient medical setting and follows the three-step process outlined below.
The evaluation process will help the medical professionals have access to all the information they need to help the patient in the most reliable ways. Evaluation involves blood tests, screenings for underlying medical conditions, psychological testing, risk assessment for the severity of the anticipated withdrawal symptoms, and assessment of the patient’s social support system.
During the stabilization process, a gentle and guided tapering is begun to reduce the amount of exposure to the addictive agent. During this time, withdrawal symptoms begin to appear and will be treated with medications and other interventions to control their severity. A proper nutritional and exercise routine is enlisted to reduce the side effects of withdrawal and ensure that a successful resolution of the problem is accomplished.
Transition to Active Treatment
The final transition into an active treatment program to address the reasons why addiction occurred is a vital part of preventing a relapse. Treatment programs are generally performed on an inpatient basis, meaning the patient will reside at the treatment facility until they are well enough to be outside of it and resist the temptations that exist in the outside world.
Complimentary Treatment Options
Sometimes complementary or holistic options are also chosen to go along with medical treatments to help round out a successful treatment program. Yoga, meditation, biofeedback therapies, acupuncture, massage, and several other options exist. While these things do not treat addiction in and of themselves, they can drastically help alleviate bothersome symptoms associated with the process of ending a serious addiction.
Where is Detoxification Performed?
Medically supervised programs such as these are often performed in rehabilitation treatment facilities, hospitals, group homes, or holistic care centers. The program leaders can help teach the patient effective ways to handle people and negative events that resulted in relapses in the past before they begin to have exposure to these things.
Medically supervised alcohol detoxification programs can be a wonderful way for millions of individuals experiencing alcohol addiction to successfully kick their habit and get their lives back under control. By having qualified medical professionals oversee the process, the patient will be much less likely to suffer physical discomfort and pain while tapering off of the addictive substance. Additionally, long-term success is much more likely when followed up by additional addiction treatment therapy and counseling. In this type of extended treatment setting, the patient will be equipped with the tools necessary to succeed in their fight against addiction.
- Partnership to End Addiction: https://drugfree.org/drug-and-alcohol-news/new-data-show-millions-of-americans-with-alcohol-and-drug-addiction-could-benefit-from-health-care-reform/
- PBS: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/substance-use-mental-health-estimates
- WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-detox-programs#1
- Verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-withdrawal-how-long-does-it-last-63036
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: https://store.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/d7/priv/sma15-4131.pdf
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: https://easyread.drugabuse.gov/content/what-relapse
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: https://www.fda.gov/media/122935/download