Illustration depicting a sign with a detox concept.

Introduction
The first step in rehabilitation is detoxification, to understand where this sits within the overall picture, here is a quick look at rehabilitation, or rehab. Rehab is used to help a person recover from substance abuse due to addictions, injuries, and even physical or mental illnesses. However, rehab programs are usually the most common types of rehab. People addicted to drugs often need the additional care and assistance that drug rehab provides.

Successful rehab plans have several steps:

    1. Detoxification
    2. Behavioral counseling
    3. Medication
    4. Evaluation and treatment (including other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety)
    5. Long-term follow-up

However, patients are free to leave anytime. This is due to the psychological need for an addict to feel that they want to succeed and are nor forced or coerced. Once the addict has a desire to change their life, then the rehab is already successful.

Personalized Treatment Plans
Since we are all different, with different backgrounds, personalities, bodies, and mental capacities as well as how our brain chemistry handles substances, all treatment plans use a general guideline but customize their approach to each addict individually.

A treatment plan, which is part of the rehab process starts with an in-depth questionnaire asked by a physician. This information is crucial to help decide which diagnostics are performed and which combined treatment plans are best suited to the addict. It is important to be 100% honest and reveal every aspect of your life, your dependencies, what substances you have used once, occasionally, and constantly as well as other symptoms that occurred after use.

The multi-disciplinary team will then evaluate your answers as well as the diagnostic results, and create a specific treatment plan that includes detoxification, individual behavior therapy, group therapies and if necessary alternative or experimental therapies (with the addict’s consent). Certain addicts will require 24-hour supervision, and they will be asked to attend a rehabilitation center for around 20 days, which covers the detox and initial therapy stages.

Detoxification
Detox is best reached before entering a rehab treatment facility. After the addict has been provided with a treatment plan by the medical team, he or she will undergo a week of substance detoxification. This process is monitored by the medical team, in some instances the addict undergoes is in a hospital ward. Inpatient detox, as this is termed, is preferred to outpatient or home-based detox for obvious reasons. They provide a medically monitored environment to assure the addict successfully cleans his or her body of all chemicals. This is also the first step in acceptance, where the addict accepts that they need help and are willing and able to undergo a harrowing period, which includes the cessation of taking the abused substance (cold turkey), or substances. On some occasions it is not medically advisable to go “cold turkey,” and the use of other medications are administered to help the detox process.

Opioid Detox is an FDA approved process in which certain substances are administered under medical supervision to help the body and mind detox gradually. This is performed to assist in dealing with severe withdrawal symptoms that can scare an addict into leaving the process and returning to their old habits.
Alcohol Detox is also a process that leads to distressing and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Going cold turkey is the only way, so these addicts undergo full detox supervision for adverse bodily effects.

The withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Sweating.
  • Shivering.
  • Anxiety.
  • Slow movements and thoughts.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Insomnia.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Seizures.
  • Confusion or disorientation (delirium).
  • Agitation.
  • Changes in mental function.

There are two severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and they include

  • Deep sleep that lasts for one or more days.
  • Delirium tremens.

Both are life-threatening and are associated with around 10% of all sever alcohol abuse cases. They demand immediate medical attention, and in some cases, Benzodiazepines are administered to these addicts to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms. Ayahuasca Retreat can help you with detoxification in a luxurious retreat.

Psychological Withdrawal and Detox
The detox phase includes two components that give it distinctive significance; the psychology behind the abused substance and the withdrawal symptoms. There is a big difference in the psychology of substance abuse, while the outcome is similar, and addiction that changes the lives of the addict and all those around them. The actual substance defines the abuse and perhaps the reasons behind it. For instance, alcohol abuse is different to recreational drug abuse, and that is different to painkiller abuse. Every abuse has a different mechanism that triggered it, and every abuser/addict has a different past reason for becoming addicted.

The withdrawal process comes as an integrated part of the detox stage and requires a dedicated multi-disciplinary team to oversee the withdrawal and provide the necessary medical and psychiatric aid to help the addict overcome this stressful period. One of the accompanying plans to help a patient go through a successful detox is educating them on the destructive powers of substance abuse on the physical body as well as showing them the changes in brain chemistry that the drug has on the addict and how it affected all around them; family, friends, and work.

Once the addict has successfully recovered from detox, they are now ready to go into rehabilitation to begin the long process of gaining control over their impulsive habitual nature. This process takes around 30 days, but it is never over, and all addicts will have to maintain a few years of sponsorship to assure they do not fall back into old substance abuse habits.