Detox – short for detoxification – means getting dangerous substances out of your system, which is the first step towards treatment of and recovery from addiction. Drugs and alcohol, although not necessarily toxic in the way say, arsenic or cyanide is, are insidious substances to have inside you. They breed dependency and lower inhibition against their use. In that sense, they impair one’s judgment and make it easier to continue use that is ultimately harmful to one’s mental and physical health.
A successful detox program has two components. The first is ridding a person’s system of the offending substance, either “cold turkey,” by stepped withdrawal, or through the mediation of other less harmful substances. The manner of withdrawal is specific to each drug, and proper supervision and support are required to make the process as tolerable as possible – recognizing that discomfort may often be acute, and no detox program can promise to be completely free of pain or other withdrawal symptoms.
The second component of a benzodiazepine detox program is putting in place a system of strategies that will lessen the perceived “need” to abuse, guard against relapse, and help maintain substance free existence. These can include a combination of psychological help, behavior modification, and outside monitoring and support. These are every bit as necessary as the initial detoxification because relapse is a constant possibility
Detox programs work best when the patient recognizes that he or she has a problem and determines that something – anything – must be better than the dependence that is adversely affecting his or her life. This recognition is the first step toward recovery. Sometimes, however, detox is imposed by others – most often family members or the court system. In those cases, relapse can be more common, and an integral component of the program is attempting to achieve buy-in by the victim through intensive counseling and, eventually, a recognition that the quality of life obtained by being “clean” is immeasurably better than that imposed by abuse.
Detox programs can be either inpatient – that is, by continual residential treatment in a special facility over a prescribed period – or provided on an outpatient basis in cases where a strong support network is in place and the time commitment for residential treatment is unavailable.
In many ways, being substance free is a lifelong process. Although the temptation diminishes with time, as does the perceived “need” to use, the underlying psychology and physiology that have led to addiction remain the background and can be revived in the right circumstances. Thus it is important to have a strong support network and, if needed, a monitoring program in place.
Lastly, if you have gone through drug detox several times in the past but just don’t feel like you can continue your sobriety, you may want to consider going through treatment out of state. The cost is certainly more as you will have to travel. Often if this is the case, the support you have in place to continue with sobriety after drug detox and rehab just isn’t very strong, or you haven’t been able to get away from your friends who continue to use drugs. Addiction is like an allergy – once you are allergic to something you will always have problems with it. The same is true for addiction. Just one puff or one line or one pill will always start the spiral of addiction once again. Don’t waste all the time, money, and effort you put into going to drug detox by going back to the same people once you are finished.