Is Detox Really Necessary?
People suffering from alcohol and drug addictions often fight a long, hard battle when it comes time turn their lives around. The damaging effects of drugs and alcohol can last long after a person stops using. Ensuring your recovery process can be the best that it can be means starting things off on a firm foundation.
Detox treatment programs provide the type of medical care needed to make it through this initial stage of recovery. Since drug and alcohol effects continue to alter brain functions for as long as a person uses, there’s no viable way to control an addiction without first eliminating all traces of these substances from the body. While detox can be carried out in different ways, this stage of recovery comes with some difficult challenges that can easily overwhelm even the most determined person.
An addiction to drugs or alcohol inevitably becomes a lifestyle made up of certain friends, activities and priorities that seldom resembles the life a person lived before drugs. These external changes result from the effects of drugs on a person’s sense of self and his or her role in the world.
By the time a person realizes the problem and decides to get help, life has changed on multiple levels. Brain and body functions are at the mercy of drugs’ effects, while a person’s existing social circle consists of other drug users. With long-term drug (or alcohol) use, it’s not uncommon for people to also develop psychological disorders due to the damaging effects of drugs on the brain.
According to New York University – Langone Medical Center, all of these factors work against a person trying to cut back on or stop using drugs. Detox treatment programs provide the type of treatment environment where people can focus their attention and energy on building new, healthy, drug-free lifestyles.
Types of Detox
In general, detox from drugs or alcohol can happen in one of three ways:
- Going “cold turkey”
- Medication therapy
Depending on the severity of the addiction, going “cold turkey” offers the least likely chance of a successful recovery. Gradually tapering drug usage amounts can work, but leaves a person at the mercy of withdrawal symptoms and the risk of relapse.
Drug detoxification programs use medication therapies to help reduce drug cravings and provide relief from withdrawal symptoms. As persistent drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms account for why so many people don’t even attempt detox, medication therapy offers recovering addicts the best chance of making it through this difficult stage.
With certain types of addictions, the withdrawal effects experienced during detox can be quite dangerous, and even life threatening. People attempting to detox off of benzodiazepines, alcohol and barbiturates may undergo severe withdrawal effects, such as cardiac arrest and respiratory failure.
Without proper medical attention, someone attempting to go “cold turkey” may be placing his or her life at risk should withdrawal effects prove fatal. Considering the extent of damage alcohol and drug addictions cause, the round-the-clock care available through detox facilities provide the level of treatment and care needed to safely break alcohol and drug addictions.