Third Step: Detox

The detoxification process tends to be uncomfortable. It can also be dangerous when done incorrectly. Going through detox at a facility that specializes in helping you get your system clean of alcohol or substances is a key first step in the addiction recovery process.

Once a client completes intake, they’ll go right into detox. This is when the substances (alcohol or drugs, or a combination thereof) leave the body. It tends to be a pretty uncomfortable time for many. That’s why undergoing detox in a medically-supervised facility is important. Not only can medical oversight make the process safe, but it can make it much more bearable.

That’s not to say everyone’s detox experience is terrible. For some, it’s pretty easy. They’ll quickly feel better and be able to start group and individual therapies right away. (We do encourage that at Mountain Springs, but don’t demand that.) We understand that you might need a bit of extra time to rest and regain your strength.

Either way is fine. Your needs will shape the timeline.

What Does It Mean to Be Medically Supervised?

Depending on what you’re addicted to, trying to stop using cold turkey can turn dangerous. Alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines can be especially hard to quit. Doing so can lead to unpleasant (and sometimes life-threatening) withdrawal symptoms like:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Dehydration
  • Slow or elevated heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Aches, pains
  • Seizures, coma

These are just a few of the withdrawal symptoms and challenges you may face as you detox. Without medical supervision, quitting substances (especially alcohol) can turn deadly.

Mountain Springs has detox specialists who will assist you through withdrawal. They’ll consider the substances you are addicted to, how frequently you use, and for how long. They’ll oversee your detox, sometimes with medication to control the symptoms of withdrawal and make them less uncomfortable. We’ll also monitor your vitals around the clock and ensure you get enough nutrients, fluids, and rest.

What Does the Medical Team Do to Make Detox Easier?

During medically supervised detox, it’s important to realize that no matter what, you will need to let the substances or alcohol vacate your body. Because it can be uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous, doctors and nurses can help make the process more bearable.

During detox, medical staff will monitor your blood pressure and other vitals. They’ll make sure you receive enough fluids and nutrition. Sometimes medication will be given to make the process go more smoothly. (A lot of people relapse due to cravings or painful withdrawal, so medication can help prevent that. Mountain Springs does both long- and short-term medication-assisted treatment to help with withdrawal as well as any other co-occurring disorders.)

Where Will I Stay During Detox?

While you undergo detox you’ll stay at our facility. Usually, you’ll be in one of our detox rooms for the first 24 hours, and sometimes longer, if needed. There, you’ll be checked regularly.

The detox phase isn’t considered part of “residential” treatment, since it’s more akin to hospitalization, with the focus on getting the patient free of substances and medically stable. By going through medically supervised detox you’ll be better equipped to enter into treatment with a clearer head and better concentration since you’ll have experienced the worst stages of withdrawal and cravings. Being out of pain and not experiencing symptoms like nausea and vomiting can make it much easier to focus on recovery.

How Long Does Detox Last?

Detox lasts at least 24 hours, but generally, it takes between seven to 10 days. It will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The severity of the addiction
  • How much alcohol or substances do you typically consume
  • Any underlying physical or mental health conditions
  • Body composition
  • The last time you used or drank

For some people, the detoxing process can be shorter, but your medical provider will ultimately work with you to decide when you are in the clear and ready for rehab.

What About Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT?

Medication-assisted treatment can be extremely helpful for people with more severe addictions or for addiction to substances like opioids. To help a person through withdrawal and prevent relapse, medication may be administered to help control cravings. The patient also receives counseling and therapies at the same time, so the physiological urge to use and the psychological drive that can result in relapse are both addressed.

Mountain Springs offers both short- and long-term medication-assisted treatment to our patients.

Exactly what medication you might be prescribed and the exact counseling will depend on your insurance, your doctor’s diagnosis, and your unique needs.

What Happens After Detox?

After you complete detox, it will depend on your insurance coverage whether you’ll be approved to continue on to residential treatment, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), or an off-site intensive outpatient program (IOP). In some cases, especially for people who live nearby, they may do well with IOP or even outpatient treatment. People with more pronounced addictions or with a longer history of substance abuse may fare better in residential settings.

Before you move from detox to the next step, our medical staff will examine you and report to your insurance company. The provider’s doctors then will determine what level of care you need.

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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