For those struggling with addiction, detox is an important first step on the road to sobriety. Breaking the hold drugs and alcohol have over you can be a difficult and painful process, and trying to do so alone is rarely successful. Detox facilities help you manage the symptoms and successfully complete your detox.
Your body requires a delicate balance of chemicals to function properly. Repeated drug or alcohol abuse interferes with that balance, physically changing the structure of the brain and the way the brain regulates important hormones.
Many substances affect the neurotransmitters in your brain, sending faulty signals that impact the reward and pleasure centers of your brain. Continued use can lead to addiction as your body craves those substances and begins to function more normally in the presence of the drug than without it.
When you try to go without drugs or alcohol, you begin to feel sick and irritable. This is your body telling you it needs more in order to operate properly. Detox forces your body to go without drugs and alcohol, allowing your brain chemistry to return to healthy levels. Feelings of sickness, anger, panic and other emotions are common during withdrawal, but they are temporary sensations that will pass once your body’s chemistry is restored.
What Happens at Detox Facilities?
Detox centers are designed to house and treat those suffering from addiction while their bodies purge the drugs and alcohol from their systems. Often these facilities are independent of addiction treatment centers, though they may work together to provide care.
Your time at a detox facility begins with an orientation and assessment as the center’s staff determines the physical and mental severity of your addiction. Therapists work with you to form a plan for detox and recovery. During this orientation period, you’ll also be examined by doctors to determine the physical toll addiction has taken on your body.
Once this assessment is complete, you will begin your detox. For those with intense withdrawal symptoms, doctors may prescribe medication to counteract some of the effects. These medications interact with your brain chemistry, sometimes satisfying the same need the drugs do without the negative side effects.
During these first few days, you might not be permitted to speak with family or friends, allowing you to remain focused on your recovery. Once the initial detox is completed, those restrictions should relax.
During that time of focused healing, you may wish to participate in therapy or other treatment as a means of occupying your mind and body. These activities will help you while you begin long-term treatment.
What Comes After Detox?
Detox only lasts a short time, typically five to seven days. Once you have completed the detox program, you may leave the detox facility and transfer to a treatment center to continue your recovery. Though your stay may be short, a detox facility can help you begin your recovery and set you on a path to sobriety.