Medical detoxification, also known as drug detox, is the first in any successful recovery plan. The process involves removing drugs and their byproducts from the body under the supervision of an addiction recovery specialist. Medical care is especially important in detox because withdrawal symptoms become intense as the client's body adjusts to a new normal without drugs.
Although drug detox restores the client to a healthy, balanced state, it is seldom a complete treatment on its own. For most people, recovery continues in a rehab center where addiction recovery specialists help clients recover on the mental front. And for others, especially people with a mild addiction, outpatient treatment or temporarily living in a sober house is enough to maintain sobriety.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) oversees rehab centers providing medical detox services in Illinois. Furthermore, this agency also ensures addictive treatment service providers follow the standards of treatment set per state and federal regulations.
Besides these regulatory duties, the DHS also runs public programs making addiction recovery services and resources available to people who need them the most.
The average detox program in Illinois lasts four days, per a 2019 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). However, many factors influence the length of time a person will need to stay in detox.
Top on the list of factors is how long the client has been dependent on drugs. Generally, persons who have been using drugs for a long time will have moderate to severe addiction. Thus, they will need more time to detox and adjust to a new normal without drugs.
Next to a long addiction history, the dosage or amount of drugs a person uses plays a role in how long drug detox takes. For one, regular and heavy drug use causes drugs and psychoactive byproducts to build up in the body. Consequently, traces of the drug may remain in the blood for several days or even weeks after the last use.
Drugs have varying potency and half-lives (how long a drug lasts before its effects start to wane). So, persons using potent drugs with longer half-lives will typically need more time to detox than those using less powerful drugs.
Besides complicating addiction, using multiple substances can make detox longer. A common practice is to mix certain drugs to increase the potency of a drug and how long it lasts, even at small doses. This practice can cause severe addiction and a high amount of the drug to build up in the body. Thus, drug detox for people who use multiple drugs takes longer than for persons addicted to one substance.
Addiction rarely happens in isolation. For many people, drug use started as a way to manage pain after a traumatic experience, surgery, or mental health struggle. Eventually, the person becomes physically and mentally dependent on drugs. As a result, medical detox for these persons must also address underlying medical conditions that may be present to safely take them off drugs.
Alcohol is equally an addictive substance that creates physical and mental dependence like every other drug. What's more, it is more accessible to adults compared to scheduled drugs.
The time it takes to detox from alcohol varies with several factors. According to the SAMHSA report, age is a key indicator of how long the program takes. On average, younger clients take 14 days to complete alcohol detox, while alcohol detox takes about five days for older clients.
Besides age, other factors like legal gender, state of physical health, and the existence of co-occurring conditions influence the time for alcohol detox. Likewise, drinking habits, using alcohol with other drugs, and addiction history can determine how long detox takes for a client.
Drug detox is more than merely removing drugs and dangerous byproducts from the body. The process is methodical and follows best practices to ensure the client's comfort, safety, and, most importantly, fitness for the next phases of recovery. Per SAMHSA's recommendation, most Illinois drug detox programs follow a three-stage process viz:
Evaluation is the assessment stage of drug detox. Generally, addiction recovery specialists take the client's drug use and relevant medical history. Then, a sample (blood, urine, and hair) test follows to identify the substances in the client's body. The information garnered at the stage helps recovery specialists create an individualized detox plan and make accommodations for special needs.
Stabilization is the main stage of detox, a continual process that majorly involves making the client comfortable. Here, recovery specialists start by explaining the detox process to the client and highlighting what they can expect to experience. Next comes medical and psychological approaches to minimize withdrawal symptoms until the client becomes drug-free and cravings are under control.
Meanwhile, stabilization for clients with moderate to severe addiction often involves special medications created to replace illicit drugs. Some of these drugs are similar in action to scheduled drugs, albeit safer as replacements in medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
This stage starts towards the end of the drug detox process. The recovery specialist helps the client understand that drug detox is only a temporary victory over drug habits and cravings. Also, the specialist stresses the importance of continuing in a formal rehab program to maintain lifelong sobriety.
Drugs act in different ways. Similarly, the side effects experienced during detox also vary with the drug. Although there are common side effects, most drugs have a pattern of withdrawal symptoms unique to them.
Without a doubt, alcohol is the oldest known drug in history. Today, it is one of the most accessible and legal drugs to adults in the United States. The known withdrawal symptoms of alcohol include agitation, nausea, vomiting, agitation, and hallucinations. Persons detoxing from alcohol also sweat a lot and may have trouble sleeping.
Like alcohol, marijuana is also an age-old drug widely accessible, albeit illegal in many US states. Commonly known as "pot" and "weed," it causes euphoria in most users. Potential withdrawal symptoms of marijuana include mood swings, depression, loss of focus and appetite, sweating, and headaches. Likewise, persons detoxing from marijuana may have trouble sleeping.
A class of drugs that goes by the street names "crystal," "ice," and "meth," amphetamines are stimulants that infuse users with energy. Potential side effects experienced during drug detox include dry mouth, dizziness, anxiety, and depression. It is also common for people to have trouble sleeping, sweat a lot, and become paranoid.
Both drugs are powerful stimulants, fast-acting, and potent. The detox side effects of cocaine are mostly psychological. So clients become aggressive, hostile, and paranoid. Anxiety, intense craving, and depression are also commonly known side effects.
This name refers to drugs prescribed to manage anxiety and acute stress. Eventually, users become physically and later psychologically dependent on the drug. The side effects are also physical and psychological. Known side effects include insomnia, irritability, increased tension, and anxiety. Users going through detox also experience panic attacks, hand tremors, sweating, difficulty concentrating, dry heaving, and nausea. Many lose weight and experience pain and stiffness in their muscles and joints. These withdrawal symptoms last 10 - 14 days, according to reports.
This class of drugs is commonly used as pain relievers following surgery or traumatic injury. However, their potency means they have a high tendency to cause addiction. Known side effects during opioid detox include sweating, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, cramps, tremors, and diarrhea. In severe cases, persons undergoing detox breathe fast and experience hallucinations and seizures.
Yes. However, this practice is not recommended. Besides the fact that it is dangerous (because of withdrawal-related medical emergencies), there is also a high chance of relapse.
After all, detoxing at home means the person is not truly free of a drug environment. For one, the person is most likely to seek out hidden stashes of drugs as withdrawal symptoms become more intense. Another reason is a high chance of meeting with friends or associates who can encourage using drugs as an easier option. Indeed, keeping the sobriety goals in perspective becomes a challenge when faced with these situations.
Granted, people mainly consider home detox because it is cheaper, especially for people who cannot afford residential or inpatient rehab. Another reason is the inability to leave responsibilities and commitments for the time it'll take to detox under medical supervision. Indeed, these reasons are valid. Nevertheless, home detox can be dangerous without support or expert supervision. The benefits of medically-supervised detox outweigh the savings or temporary absence from life commitments.
Rapid detox is an aggressive treatment designed to help persons with opioid addiction detox within hours instead of days, as standard in medical detox. The procedure has garnered attention because it helps people in recovery to largely discomfort and withdrawal symptoms during detox.
First, the treatment service provider appraises the client's overall physical health and medical history to determine fitness for the procedure.
Once the client is deemed fit and stable, the treatment provider sedates them, usually with benzodiazepines, to minimize their experience of withdrawal symptoms. Next, the provider administers medication, such as Clonidine, Naltrexone, or Flumazenil. Suffice to say that these medications work as mops, removing traces of opioids from the bloodstream until the client's system is completely drug-free.
The procedure typically takes five to seven hours, and the client will be ready to leave or transition to formal rehab. However, it is common for rehab centers that offer rapid detox to keep and monitor clients overnight due to the adverse side effects after the procedure.
One need not look too far to see the appeals of rapid detox: convenience and speed. For one, the procedure minimizes distressing, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms common in standard medical detox. Furthermore, the fast solution allows clients to skip days in a facility and begin non-residential rehab programs soon. This quality is especially appealing to clients who cannot afford to leave work, school, or family commitments for too long. Besides speed and convenience, another appeal of rapid detox is discreteness. Since the procedure only takes a few hours and happens in a private facility, executives, celebrities, and high-profile clients find it appealing.
However, despite the appeals of rapid detox, the procedure has been reported as dangerous, highly experimental, and prohibitively expensive. Rapid detox removes drugs from the body and restores chemical balance in the brain. However, addiction is a learned habit, and this procedure is ineffective against psychological withdrawal symptoms. Thus, persons who complete rapid detox still need support and counseling to maintain sobriety.
Meanwhile, another danger is that clients who complete rapid detox lose the drug tolerance their body has built over time. This loss of tolerance makes relapse dangerous and puts the person at a high risk of overdose.
Furthermore, rapid detox is considerably more expensive than standard medical detox. On average, clients spend several thousands of dollars on a one-day experimental procedure that could cover, say, several months of high-quality outpatient rehab in Illinois. What's more, the nature and cost of rapid detox mean it's not covered under most health insurance plans.
Detox is the first step in any successful recovery plan. Despite the benefits of drug detox, it is not a complete substance abuse treatment. After all, having a drug-free body does not permanently erase cravings or fix the situations that cause a person to use drugs. Addiction recovery experts recommend committing to a formal rehab program or joining an informal support system to sustain sobriety. These include:
Inpatient rehab programs occur in a clinical setting, usually in a hospital or medical facility. These programs have the equipment and professional talent to treat addiction and co-occurring physical and mental disorders. Generally, Illinois inpatient rehab programs are onsite, short-stay, and typically last about 30 days.
Residential rehab programs provide substance abuse treatment services in a homely setting. These programs are majorly designed for people who need a high level of psychological support after detox. Generally, Illinois residential rehab programs require a short-term commitment, 30 - 90 days, depending on the client's needs.
Outpatient rehab programs are designed such that clients receive comprehensive treatment services and return home after scheduled sessions. Although Illinois outpatient rehab programs require long-term commitment, the program's overall cost is lesser than the aforementioned options. Also, this program is best-fit for persons with commitments they cannot avoid for long.
Sober living homes are community residences that provide informal support for persons in recovery. Living in a sober home after detox is best suited for people who want to transition to independent living in a drug-free environment.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, treatment is available. To locate a recovery clinic near you, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at (800) 662-4357. Your conversation with a SAMHSA representative is private, and the line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
SAMHSA's treatment center locator is also an easy way to locate a rehab program that has been assessed and rated by independent specialists. The locator displays the location of the facility as well as contact information. You'll also find a list of various therapies, amenities, and payment methods.