A Elements Behavioral Health Guide to Drug Rehab
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Prescription medications serve a very real need whether they are given to help us cope with pain, anxiety, depression or a host of other medical concerns. The trouble comes when these helpful medications are used in ways other than that intended by the prescribing physician. Prolonged use and/or over-use can result in prescription drug dependency, a problem every bit as serious as illicit drug dependency and requiring similar detox treatment.

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Alcohol is a depressant for the central nervous system. For this reason some people use it at the end of a long and trying day to “relax”. But alcohol is actually a drug that is suppressing normal body function.

When a person has become addicted to alcohol, the removal of the “drug” can cause quite the opposite reactions in the body. Rather than feeling relaxed, the alcoholic deprived of alcohol may experience agitation and hyperactivity which manifests in disquieting ways. Nonetheless, it is crucial that the person addicted to alcohol remove all vestiges of it from their system in order for recovery to begin.

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Medical drug detox is an integral part of comprehensive drug addiction rehab. It is not the end all of treatment – it is the first step on a journey toward recovery. By signing into a medical detox facility the person is leaving behind an environment filled with temptations and the risk of relapse when things feel tough. At the drug rehab center, the person will be able to focus entirely on disengaging him/herself from the chains of drug or alcohol addiction.

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You have been waiting for a long time for your loved one to be ready to fight the addiction that was negatively impacting their life. Now the time is here and they are ready to enter a detox program. While this is a momentous decision, it doesn’t mark the end of your involvement with your loved one. There are many ways you can be supportive of your loved one while they are going through detox and immediately after.

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The death of 27-year-old singer Amy Winehouse has spawned renewed discussions about drug and alcohol treatments. Ms. Winehouse does not appear to have died of an overdose, but her well-known struggle with addiction led most to make that assumption immediately following her tragic death. Ms Winehouse was receiving outpatient addiction therapy at the time she died.

Even though substance abuse became the center of a whirlwind of conversations across the globe, remarkably few people actually understand the nuances of treating substance abuse. One example: A recent survey reveals that 70 percent of Americans do not know the difference between drug detox and drug rehab.

What Is Drug Detox?

Addictions are more than habitual behaviors. In many cases, they are psychologically motivated behaviors that wind up producing physical dependencies. Before a person can address the psychological and behavioral aspects of addiction, the physical dependency needs to be broken. That is the purpose of a drug detox program.

Whether involved in alcohol or drug abuse, the addict’s brain has been changed chemically and must be relieved of the poisons first and foremost. Stopping use of a drug cold-turkey can wreak havoc on the body, as some withdrawal symptoms can be potential health dangers in and of themselves. For this reason, detox facilities provide a safe and controlled environment while the drug is removed from a persons’ system. Detox should occur on an inpatient basis where quality medical care can be administered throughout the withdrawal process.

What Happens During Drug Rehab?

Following detox, the mental and emotional health of the addict needs to be addressed. Detox removed the problem substance; rehab seeks to refill the person with the appropriate habits and skills that will restore them to good health and a happy life. Drug rehab offers a variety of treatments, lasting anywhere from weeks to months, based on the treatment philosophy of the facility.

Once the person has undergone drug detox, they will need to commit themselves to the process of drug rehab. A number of treatments may be employed to address the various emotional and behavioral needs. Above all, the patient will need to take a long and honest look at themselves and their substance abuse and truly understand the scope of their problem. This is key since every drug abuser confronts some form of denial. Rehab is the opportunity to look unblinkingly at the things the person has been trying so hard to avoid.

Addiction treatments may include individual therapy, often using cognitive behavioral therapy. This therapy teaches people to recognize the link between their thinking and their behavior. Dysfunctional thinking leads to inappropriate behavior. Conversely, when the patient learns to think more correctly about themselves and their circumstances, more appropriate behaviors usually follow. Besides individual therapy, group counseling sessions, support groups, family therapy and even spiritual practices may be used to help the person form new habits.

Many addicts and alcoholics believe they can quit using substances on their own. But after a few painful and confidence-crushing failed attempts, the need for an inpatient drug detox at a residential drug rehab often grows clearer.

Taking that first step to rid your life of drugs and alcohol requires a giant leap of faith. The life that you’ve come to know is about to change dramatically. And while some of those changes require patience and a bit of uneasiness, ask any recovering addict and they will tell you the rewards are well worth it.

Knowing what to expect during drug detox can help assuage unsettled nerves and reinforce your commitment to treatment. So what exactly happens during drug detox?

Intake Consultation and Assessment Before Detox

drug detox intake assessmentOn the first day of drug rehabilitation, you will be welcomed to the start of your recovery. An experienced counselor will talk with you about your history, substance use and any medical issues. Based on this information, your therapist will work with you to create a treatment plan that matches your unique needs. Upon arrival, you will also have time to get comfortable in your room and take a tour of the facility, if desired.

Being in an unfamiliar place with a group of people you’ve never met can be intimidating. You may feel anxious, angry and nervous, and you may begin to rationalize all the reasons you don’t really need detox.

During this volatile time, your drug rehab program will guide you through the process and support you every step of the way. If at any time you feel like leaving drug rehab, rest assured that those feelings are normal and that they will pass with each day you spend getting well.

Medical Evaluation Before Detoxification Begins

By the time you enter drug detox, months or years of drug abuse have taken a toll on your body. To address any medical issues, nutrition deficiencies and health concerns, a medical team will conduct a comprehensive evaluation.

As part of the evaluation, the medical staff, which may include nurses, a nurse practitioner and/or physician will talk with you about the most effective ways to treat your withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Drug testing and mental health evaluations are often necessary to adequately address withdrawal symptoms and other health concerns.

Medically Supervised Detox

Depending on the type of addiction and length of drug use, your treatment team may recommend medically supervised detox. A supervised medical detox is critical for individuals addicted to alcohol or benzodiazepines (which can be life-threatening), and is well-advised for many undergoing opiate detox.

Under the close supervision of a licensed physician, you may receive medications such as methadone, Suboxone and buprenorphine to minimize drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These medications are backed by many years of scientific research and can be used solely for short-term detox (roughly 3-10 days) or for longer periods of time. The medical team may also recommend nutritional supplements, fluids to treat dehydration, pain relievers and non-addictive medication to address body aches and other complaints.

Many inpatient drug rehabilitation centers will limit your contact with family and friends during drug detox. This “blackout period” allows you to focus on treatment and allows your loved ones to take proper care of themselves while you are away.

Your Participation in Drug Detox Treatment

While medication can greatly reduce withdrawal symptoms during detox, you probably won’t feel 100% during this part of the recovery process. Even though detox typically only takes a few days, push yourself during this time to take advantage of all the drug rehab program has to offer.

Although you may be housed in a separate detox area, your treatment team will recommend that you participate as much as possible in counseling, activities and other services offered at the drug rehabilitation center. Getting involved will remind you why you’re going through detox in the first place, and will help combat the tendency toward isolation that is characteristic of addiction.

Recovery Begins After Detox

At the end of drug detox, you will look, think and feel better than you have since you started using drugs. But this doesn’t mean you’ve overcome addiction. Detox prepares you to participate in a drug rehab program that includes 12-Step meetings, therapy, life skills training, stress management, family counseling, relapse prevention planning and recovery-related activities. There are many different types of rehabs, so be sure to look for one that meets your specific needs, whether that be a Christian drug rehab or an executive drug rehab.

If you’re feeling excited but scared, empowered yet powerless, welcome to recovery! This journey is hard, long and worth every minute.


We Understand Your Confusion

What type of drug rehab is right for me? Will my loved one stay in treatment long enough to get the benefits of rehab? Will my insurance cover drug rehab?

You have questions. We have answers.

Take some time to review DrugRehab.us and learn about your treatment options. If at any time you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or confused, please pick up the phone. Our expert advisers are here to help.

Whether you decide on an outpatient drug treatment program or an inpatient residential drug rehab, you are making a choice to move forward with your life. You are choosing to reclaim your life from drugs and alcohol.