Medical detoxification has, in many circumstances, been proven an effective treatment method for those struggling from intense or even life-threatening drug withdrawal symptoms. However, public perception of these programs is often mistaken, with some assuming that all detox facilities offer luxury vacations and little hope for true recovery. But there’s a lot more to detox than meets the eye, which is why you may be surprised to learn these five little-known facts about medical detoxification:
Detox Is Rarely Effective On Its Own
Detoxification serves as a wonderful first step for anyone battling a severe physical addiction. But on its own, it is not particularly likely to prove effective. Once the physical symptoms of withdrawal have been addressed, most patients will still need to make an effort to deal with the mental and emotional problems that led them down the road to addiction in the first place. The best way to accomplish this is through the help of a qualified medical professional. In most cases, this means one-on-one meetings with a licensed psychologist. These sessions may also be accompanied by group meetings with other recovering patients, as well as alternative treatments such as yoga, music therapy and acupuncture.
Research suggests that the most effective approach to severe addiction involves a combination of medical detox and more comprehensive addiction aftercare. Patients spending at least one month in treatment programs that address the mental aspect of addiction are far more likely to stave off relapse than those who leave immediately following physical detox. Thus, it is highly recommends such an approach for anyone hoping to achieve lasting recovery while minimizing the potential for relapse.
Physical Addiction To Drugs Is Surprisingly Common
Often, it helps for detox patients to know that they are not alone in their efforts to get clean. While a certain stigma related to addiction and mental health problems stubbornly remains a part of the American culture, more and more individuals are beginning to regard addiction as a medical problem worthy of compassion. Part of this realization stems from efforts at improving awareness, for, as statistics suggest, addiction is far more common a problem than some might expect. According to the Institute of Addiction Medicine, 23.2 million Americans suffering from substance abuse disorders required treatment in 2007. While many of these individuals were addicted to drugs that may not necessarily require medical detoxification, several million found themselves physically dependent on opioids and other substances for which detox can greatly improve recovery rates.
Methadone Can Improve Treatment Participation Rates
A common myth related to medical detox suggests that, while effective in the short term, such programs discourage long-term recovery efforts. While this is unfortunately true of a small minority of detoxification centers, most truly have the patients’ best interests in mind. And with the use of the correct detox medications, rates of treatment participation can, in fact, be greatly boosted.
The potential for detox medication has been greatly backed up by studies conducted by Australia’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) where methadone in particular was proven to be an effective means of treating the physical withdrawal symptoms related to opiod abuse. As with SAMSHA, the NDARC recommends that drug abusers pursue a combination of treatments targeted at physical withdrawal symptoms and psychological issues. And based on preliminary research, use of methadone to curb physical withdrawal symptoms just might enable more abusers to stay in treatment longer, in turn leading to better recovery rates for opiod abusers.
Detox Is Effective For Those Suffering From Additional Mental Health Problems
Attempts to self-treat addiction can be particularly hazardous for those suffering from additional health problems on top of the drug dependency. This is especially true of those suffering from depression and bipolar disorder, both of whom may find themselves unable to deal with the rapidly decreasing levels of serotonin that commonly accompany the cold turkey approach to drug cessation. Close monitoring of such conditions during drug cessation may prove essential so as to avoid severe mental breakdowns. Patients may be helped along by drugs aimed at targeting physical symptoms, for, when already dealing with psychological issues, it may be overwhelming to add the potential for severe withdrawals.
This finding is particularly significant in light of the high co-morbidity rates related to addiction and other mental health disorders. The United States National Institute on Drug Abuse points to incredibly high rates of co-morbidity between anxiety disorders, depressive disorders and drug addiction. While it is rare for both problems to be treated at the same time, it often proves helpful for medical professionals to be aware of other mental problems facing drug abusers so as to prescribe the most effective treatments.
Inpatient Detoxification Participants Are More Likely To Complete Treatment
Outpatient is viewed as an effective means of treatment, especially for experiencing milder addictions. For this reason, outpatient is often recommended as an alternative to inpatient for those unable to obtain insurance coverage through their providers. But research from the National Institute of Health suggests that recovery may be more accessible for those taking part in inpatient programs. In one study, equal numbers of patients were randomly assigned to various inpatient and outpatient programs. Far more of the patients taking part in inpatient programs were able to complete treatment than those in outpatient centers. The full reason for these differing completion rates remains unknown, although factors such as the presence of pharmacological treatment may help to promote higher recovery rates.
Those who have gone through traditional addiction treatment programs and still not managed to kick drug dependency may be in need of an alternative solution. And medical detoxification just might serve as the best approach for such individuals. A growing body of research points to detox as being an effective means of treatment for severe drug addictions, especially when accompanied by aftercare programs that include psychological counseling. With continued research and efforts at further improving treatment programs, we may finally see the dramatic reduction in drug abuse rates for which we have been striving in the past several decades.