What to Expect From Drug and Alcohol Detox Programs

By JamyyJon 01/03/18
Drug and Alcohol Detox

Although the initial steps of committing to a detox program may seem daunting, not knowing exactly what is entailed in addiction treatment is often what concerns people most after taking the decision to seek help. Many people worry about how attending an alcohol detox center will impact their lives and their close relationships with family and friends. Others are concerned about detox itself, which is often portrayed by the media as a frightening and isolated process. Even raising their heads above the parapet to openly admit there is a problem places some people in a vulnerable position where they feel exposed to harsh judgment.

The positive benefits of a detox program are significant and often life-changing for many people who have suffered from addiction issues for prolonged periods of time. Nevertheless, the treatment process is not without its challenges although patients can draw considerable comfort from the fact that they are not alone and are in an environment that offers a complete understanding of everything they are going through.

In an attempt to demystify drug and alcohol detox treatment, we take a closer look at detox treatment, revealing exactly what is entailed and what to expect.Entering into detox armed with the facts enables someone with addiction issues to prepare themselves better for the process and importantly, rids them of misconceptions.

What Is Involved In a Professional Detox And Rehab Experience?

A rehabilitation center or facility is where the process of detox and rehabilitation starts and is a big step towards combating addiction to drugs or alcohol for a more positive future. In other words, the treatment center is where people get clean and find sobriety. Naturally, everyone is different and each patient has their individual experience of detox that is personal to them. This is the reason why there's no single method of treating drug and alcohol addiction.

There are four main stages of drug and alcohol rehabilitation as follows:

Evaluation and assessment

Evaluation and assessment of each individual patient are crucial to designing an effective addiction treatment plan, which is why it's the very first step in the process. Many patients with addiction issues are also suffering concurrent mental illness, which needs to be identified and diagnosed in order to be treated at the same time. Finding out more about a person's background and the circumstances surrounding their issues with drugs or alcohol is the goal of evaluation and assessment and there is also a physical examination at this stage, to correlate stated substance use with the actual alcohol levels or chemicals in the body.


Detox is when drugs and alcohol are expelled from the body. Detox is a process that many people wrongly believe they are capable of undertaking themselves. The fact is that professional detox facilities provide 24-hour medical supervision while a person is going through withdrawal to ensure they are as comfortable as possible. Someone attempting DIY detox may find themselves suffering more severe withdrawal symptoms than they anticipated and will not know how to alleviate them quickly and safely.

The duration of detox depends on the substance addicted to and for how long it has been misused and abused. Heroin addiction is particularly difficult to detox from, largely because of the drug's potent effect on the brain especially if used for a prolonged period. The withdrawal symptoms from heroin can be extremely distressing and professional facilities are best-placed to manage them with medical treatment as and when required. Once detox has been completed and the body has been completely purged of substances, treatment becomes much less physically grueling for the majority of people.

Education and Counseling

Counseling is crucial in helping addicts understand the root causes of their issues with drugs or alcohol. By learning what it was that triggered events leading to addiction, an individual can protect themselves from repeating the same mistakes when they’re in recovery. For some addicts, they become hooked on alcohol or drugs in response to the symptoms of underlying mental illness such as depression and anxiety. Others may have experienced a traumatic event such as divorce or the loss of a loved one that pushed them towards drugs and drink as a coping mechanism for stress.
The main purpose of counseling and education is to restore balance in a patient's mind-body-spirit to enable them to enjoy a life of sobriety when the program has finished. It's important that addicts give up the friends and associates they knew when they were addicted so that they don't find themselves in trigger situations with a high-risk of relapse. Understanding that it's OK to let go of negative influences no matter how powerful they may be is empowering for people in addiction treatment.

Relapse Prevention

Drug and alcohol rehabilitation prepares patients for their lives outside of the treatment center and consolidates the techniques learned to enable them to identify and avoid trigger situations in the future. It is almost inevitable that an individual will face some of the same situations and circumstances in their lives that pushed them towards addiction in the first place. The first few weeks after leaving the rehab center are the most crucial in terms of preventing relapse and rehabilitation treatment empowers patients to be able to cope in the face of trigger incidents. The focus of rehabilitation is to learn how to deal with everyday problems and stressors without relapsing into addictive behavior.

One of the big benefits of professional addiction treatment is individual and group therapy which is often available for many years after someone’s completed a program. Having a local network of support from people in the same situation who fully understand what it is like to live in recovery from addiction is a powerful motivational force for many patients leaving rehab.

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