The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that about 10% of all people over 12 in the country are nowadays in need of special treatment for drug or other substance abuse. This is annual statistics. A great number of these people try to find information on the subject and deal with the problem on their own first, however. All of them face the question of detoxification and its role in the process of quitting and treatment.
However, there are several things to understand first. Drug intake causes alternations in a person’s organism that lead to the development of permanent need of a drug or other substance, if it is taken on a regular basis. What happens next is that a person starts craving for the drug more and more and becomes both physically and psychologically dependent and starts seeking ways to acquire the desired substance no matter the cost. Such behavior becomes permanent as a result of changes in the brain that occur during the period of drug abuse.
While dependence represents a lighter form of addiction in a sense, both of them can be, or rather, they are almost always are, followed by withdrawal period, provided that a person decides to quit. This period starts right after a person stops using a drug, lasts up to several weeks and can be (usually is) quite intense. This is where detoxification is for. And taking into consideration the fact that withdrawal period is harsh, it is most advisable to go through it under supervision of a specialist or at least with some outside assistance, for the sake of the most effective result.
Detoxification, or detox, in general – is a process that helps to eliminate any toxic substances from a person’s body. It is quite commonly perceived as a process of cleansing and getting rid of toxic waste for the sake of acquiring a healthier organism/better-looking body, etc. Major point here is to remove any waste from your organism whether physiologically or by means of medicine.
Drug detoxification, however, represents a process that both cleanses a person’s system of any drug toxins and simultaneously allows handling withdrawal period more effectively as well as less stressfully for a person.
Detox Reasons and Withdrawal
The term of withdrawal is closely related to the term detox, when it comes to any substance abuse. It actually means the process when a person’s organism has to go through a very trying stage while it has to function being deprived of a substance that is has become used to getting on a regular basis. It is also related to a number of physical and psychological reactions and painful sensations that accompany it.
Withdrawal symptoms’ impact on a person’s organism should not be underestimated. Some drugs can cause severe medical complications in case when no special care is taken. This refers to benzodiazepine withdrawal, for instance. The same can be said about opiate withdrawal, which can be very harsh; and in case of unsupervised detox attempt can end up with relapse, overdose and fatal outcome.
Most withdrawal symptoms are a mix of physical and psychological reactions; however, the prevalence of the latter does not make the stage easier. Such conditions as depression, various cravings as well suicidal thoughts are almost always associated with stimulant drug addiction (e.g. cocaine, crystal meth).
It is believed that THC, or marijuana, leaves no withdrawal symptoms; however, it is not strictly true. It might be easier to come off it than off any aforementioned drugs, and some people experience just emotional and psychological changes on the stage of detox; however, it is all very individual. One should remember that THC (unlike other drugs) is stored in the fat cells; which makes it longer (and harder) to remove from the system. And which also means that the organism stays filled with these toxins for much longer; which is not good in the long-term perspective. Whether a person decides to detox from marihuana for good, or just to pass a drug screen, this fact should be taken into consideration.
In general, coming off any drugs usually requires specialized attention. Detox option choice is always different with regards to the drug in question; and so are the treatment options. However, it is essential as it is the first step on the way to recovery.
Choosing How to Detox
At the present moment there are 6.5% of various inpatient treatment facilities in the country with such an option, as well as 4.8% of hospitals, in accordance with the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities.
Some people choose to detox at home, or they try to quit “cold-turkey”; however, this option is only likely to be successful for the individuals with pretty strong health and no any other dual condition, plus strong determination to quit and family and friends who support in the rear. Others (and they are a majority) still need specialist (medical professional) assistance and supervision to go through the stage.
There is also another reason. There are types of drugs that are not only hard to quit alone, but coming off them can be fraught with dangerous health consequences, not just painful symptoms of withdrawal. Thus, having some kind of assistance and control over the process is usually the best path to choose. In complicated cases (with hard drugs and long term of abuse), in-home detox can be fatal and, thus, it is not recommended.
Detoxification is the first step on the way to overcoming dependency and addiction. It is also an essential step to those individuals who have some kind of dual diagnosis (have some other type of condition apart from actual addiction or dependence). The next step is dealing with psychological issues related to addiction, re-structure of habits and attitudes and creation of new thinking paths. The majority of people with addiction do need special therapy for this, especially in cases with long-term and serious addiction.