Medical detox is the first step in treating addiction to drugs and alcohol. It’s not a cure but it’s an important part of the process because it helps reduce withdrawal symptoms that can trigger relapses. Medications used in detox can help ease the discomfort of withdrawal and make it easier to quit using drugs and alcohol.
A physician and a team of nurses, support staff and behavioral health professionals oversee the detox process. They monitor a patient’s condition and use of medications to ensure the safety of the treatment. They also provide education and support to help people stop abusing drugs or alcohol. Medical detox may be performed at inpatient rehab facilities, inpatient detox centers, hospitals or standalone addiction treatment programs.
The duration and type of medication a person uses in detox will vary based on their substance use history, age, gender, body weight and other factors. Some of the most commonly used medications in detox include acetaminophen, benzodiazepines and buprenorphine. They can help relieve withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, fever and seizures.
During a medical detox, a physician will carefully monitor the patient’s symptoms and use of medications to ensure that the detox is safe. If any complications arise, a physician will adjust the dosage or discontinue the medication. Depending on the patient’s circumstances, a physician may prescribe other treatments or medications to address other symptoms such as cravings.
In addition to easing withdrawal symptoms, medical detox can help treat co-occurring disorders. When a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety coexists with an addiction, it can complicate withdrawal and cause relapses. It’s important to share all details about a person’s health and addiction treatment history with the medical detox team to avoid health risks and improper prescriptions.
A medical detox is often covered by insurance. Patients must meet certain criteria for their insurance to cover the cost. It is important to check with a particular provider’s office and their individual insurance policy to see what the specific requirements are.
The most effective way to start recovery from drug and alcohol addiction is with a medically supervised program. A medical detox is the best option for most people because it reduces withdrawal symptoms, which can be dangerous if not managed properly. It’s also the first step in an addiction treatment plan, which should include counseling and therapy.
During the evaluation stage of a medical detox, a physician will ask a patient about their drug and alcohol use history and may perform a physical exam or blood tests to determine whether there are any other health issues. The physician will then design a treatment plan that includes detox, education and other services. Some inpatient detox programs allow patients to participate in a counseling session or a support group while they’re in detox. This can be helpful in reestablishing trust and providing encouragement for the future. Patients can also find support groups after detox to continue building a supportive community.