What Happens In Detox?

Detox centers have a somewhat skewed public perception thanks in part to television and film that portray them as some dark tunnel where people go and scream a lot, throw chairs and act as though an alien is about to emerge from their chest. Yeah, what happens in detox is not really like that, at least not for most people. So what really happens in detox clinics? Let’s explore.

The Perspective is Unique

Abrupt Withdrawal During Detox
How drugs and alcohol addiction affects us is a unique experience. Our addiction and recovery are also unique. Sure, there are similarities, but the journey we walk from addiction to recovery different for us all. In a rehab center, you detox. You might sleep, cry, feel deep emotions like despair, depression, and even pain. However, it is not all negative. There will be awakenings and times where you laugh, find inspiration, bond with others, and come to know yourself. Addiction changes us and getting clean shows us just how we have changed.

The Role of Detox Facilities

Some of us find local detox centers near me thinking that we just have to do our time there and we walk out cured. Rehab facilities are not prison. Drug and alcohol addiction is a type of prison. The role of facilities is to get us on our way to recovery. So what should you expect to take place on your first day in a rehab clinic?

Detox and What to Expect

Rehab and detox are two separate things. Detox is about getting the drugs or alcohol out of your system and dealing with the medical issues associated with withdrawal. Rehab occurs after detox.

The Hollywood version of detox is what many of us carry in our minds. It is actually much calmer and tamer than the amplified version we see on television. The detox process takes between five days and two weeks to complete.

Step 1: Medical Detox

The medical team in detox clinics has several goals. One is to keep you safe, and the other is to understand the types of addictions and medical issues that you face. This process is comprehensive because withdrawal from certain drugs and alcohol can become life threatening.

Expect: Oral interviews, lab draws, and physical assessment.

Expect: Close quarters as most detox patients share rooms with 2-4 people who are also going through the same process. Expect a comfortable environment. Detox is not usually a cold and sterile environment.

Expect: To the focus to be on the relationship you have with yourself and not the relationships you have with others. In fact, relationships are not allowed while in detox or in rehab. It is difficult to build a relationship with yourself if you are building a relationship with another person. Since this is about you, your focus should remain on the relationship that you have with yourself and your recovery.

Expect: Medication to help counter the effect of drugs or alcohol. In some cases, you may be given lesser amounts of certain types of drugs so that your body can safely go without them. Benzodiazepines are one such family of drugs.

Step 2: Management of Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal is both a physical and mental process. The craving for more drugs manifests itself in many ways. Your body’s withdrawal may include pain such as headaches. Many drugs are synthetics of natural chemicals our own body already makes. However, when we supplement our body with synthetics, our body “forgets” how to make the real deal. Without the constant source of synthetic drugs, our brain struggles to compensate. That struggle emerges as a variety of symptoms.

Expect: Shaking, sweating, a difficult time thinking, pain, nausea, vomiting, loose stools, deep hunger pangs, wide mood swings that range from uncontrolled sobbing to anger.

These are just some of what happens when your body detoxifies. These are the symptoms that the medical team  helps to control. Their role is to reduce the effects of detox so that you can manage your symptoms.

Expect: Nutrition to be a priority.

Expect: Little to no caffeine and a lot of the emphasis placed on well-balanced meals. At the start of detox, food is usually bland and towards the end, it becomes more normalized. When you get to rehab, you may be in an environment where you have a communal kitchen and food preparation is part of your experience. Some rehab facilities teach life skills such as how to cook. Much of your care is provided by you as a preparation for re-entry into the real world.

Step 3: The Preparation for Rehab

The effects of withdrawals are usually worse at the beginning of the process and milder towards the end. As such, another part of detox is to prepare you for rehab, including the costs for rehab treatment.

Expect: To meet therapists and doctors who are experienced, professionals.

Expect: To begin to understand the medical problems that you face. This may include learning that you are HIV+ or that you have Hep C. It may also involve the discovery of dual-diagnosis, such as bipolar syndrome. Drug and alcohol addiction and usage for long periods of time can induce mental health issues such as depression and personality disorders such as schizophrenia.

Expect: To begin to understand what rehab does and how to approach your time there. Rehab is about learning both about who you are as you enter rehab, and about learning new skills to cope with living without drugs or alcohol.

Rehab Options and Therapies

Rehab programs offer a varied set of perspectives.

Expect: Opportunities to experience different types of therapies such as:

  • Individual therapy — One-on-one with a professional. The goal is to discover the why and how of your addiction, such as why you use, the presence of dual diagnosis, and the practice of you listening to you.
  • Group therapy — Group is the sharing of experiences and lessons. This is where you often discover that you are not alone in this process, and that similarities exist between yourself and other addicts. This is also a re-introduction into being social.
  • Family therapy — Recovery and addiction do not just affect the addict. They affect the entire family. Family therapy addresses that fact and also provides a platform to help deal with family relationship dynamics. This is also a re-entry into how to nurture deeper relationships.
  • Reality therapy — This is about the here-and-now. It is not about what happened ten years ago, or the baggage that we carry around with us. It is a focus of now and a discovery or development of tools that you have or can build to deal with what is happening right now.
  • Cognitive Behavior Therapy — This is a type of therapy that teaches us how we think. As it progresses it helps us find new ways to think about issues, problems and failures. It is an empowering type of therapy that allows us to move past addictive thinking and rationalize recovery into a weapon that helps us defeat addiction.

If you take only one thing away from this article, take the fact that recovery is possible. If you are the addict, then now is the best time to talk with someone about your options for treatment. You are worth the effort. If you are a loved one who is concerned about the addictions of another then start the process of helping by gathering information. Call and talk to one of our professionals. Begin by dissipating that falseness of the Hollywood vision of detox and recovery, and find the reality of a caring approach to both detox and rehab.