Understand the Facts
Detoxification programs have received quite a bit of publicity in the past few years, especially given the number of celebrity patients heading to these programs. Unfortunately, due to such tabloid press, a lot of misinformation related to medical detox programs has been shared on a wide level. As a result, drug abusers and their loved ones may avoid programs that they view as ineffective, overly expensive or simply beyond their reach. This is unfortunate, for, with help from the correct medical detox center, full recovery from addiction can become a true possibility, as opposed to an abstract idea.
There are dozens of currently circulating myths related to medical detoxification programs, but the following are easily the most widespread, as well as the most harmful to patients’ recovery efforts:
1.) Detoxification Is Not Necessary
While it is true that detoxification may not serve as a necessity for all drug abusers, it should still be considered as an option for those struggling with any addiction known to produce particularly uncomfortable or even dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Often, well-meaning individuals trying to obtain more affordable treatment options make the mistake of providing abusers with misinformation related to detox; namely, that detox programs are not needed for recovery. But anyone who has attempted to recover from a strong heroin addiction without the help of withdrawal medication knows just how much harder a lack of medical detoxification can make the recovery process.
Traditionally, the withdrawal period involved a cold turkey approach in which patients were provided access to psychological counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous style meetings, or a combination of the two. While this may be effective in some cases, research suggests that often, a more intensive approach is required. In cases of extreme physical dependence, such an approach is both archaic and torturous for the patient. For these patients, a more effective approach includes a combination of interventions aimed at physical withdrawal symptoms along with the usual counseling sessions and group treatment. The amount of time spent in medical detox will vary depending on the severity of the drug dependency, as well as the type of drug being abused. Generally, detox programs will last anywhere from one day to a little over a week.
2.) Detoxification Is Always Effective On Its Own
Some drug abusers take the opposite stance of the above myth and assume that a few days in detox will be more than enough to kick their addictions. If it truly were this easy, addiction would not be nearly the problem that it is today. Medical detox offers an excellent starting point for those mired in physical dependency, but it does not sufficiently address the underlying psychological problems that led to the addiction in the first place. If these issues are not resolved, the chances of obtaining lasting recovery will be kept to a minimum.
The latest research indicates that those addicted to “harder” drugs such as opiates and methamphetamines may see the best results when they combine medical detox with aftercare programs that address psychological issues. Patients receiving at least thirty days of addiction treatment following medical detox take forty percent longer to relapse — and that’s assuming they relapse at all (fortunately, many do not). This promising finding suggests that the establishment of combination detox and therapy programs should become a bigger priority in order to minimize relapse rates.
3.) Medical Detoxification Programs Are Only For The Wealthy
Any time you hear about a detox center in a tabloid, chances are, you are reading about a luxury center that charges clients hundreds, if not thousands of dollars a day. It is indeed true that luxury detoxification programs make up a significant chunk of the available residential recovery centers, but contrary to popular belief, not all detox programs are as expensive as those typically portrayed in the media. In fact, many programs are surprisingly affordable, with treatment costs and post-recovery medications often being covered by both private and public health insurance programs.
The best chances for obtaining affordable care at detoxification facilities are available for those covered by decent insurance plans. However, drug abusers lacking health insurance may still have the opportunity to obtain affordable care, for many detoxification centers provide lower-income patients with access to sliding scale payment plans. This way, drug abusers are able to obtain the care they so desperately need without worry of immediately running out of money and being kicked out of the program. Many detox centers provide prospective or recently admitted patients with financial consultants so as to determine the easiest way to pay for care. In some cases, this may involve keeping inpatient stays to a minimum and then focusing on supplemental outpatient programs.
It is a mistake to assume that all detox centers are only in the business to get your hard-earned money. The key is to be able to distinguish between the scams and the medical facilities truly dedicated to helping desperate abusers to break free from the shackles of addiction. And once you have pinpointed a reputable program, simply ask about financial policies and how you can get the care you need on a limited budget. You may be surprised at the affordability of the program you have in mind.
4.) Detox Medications Completely Eliminate Withdrawal Symptoms
Detox patients are often disappointed to learn that drugs prescribed to aid in the detoxification process generally do not immediately eliminate all withdrawal symptoms. They may make such symptoms less severe, but those ready to face recovery should still expect some physical discomfort, especially if they are attempting to kick opiate dependency.
It is also important to note that drugs used to treat withdrawal symptoms may include side effects of their own. For example, buprenorphine (a drug used to treat opiod withdrawal symptoms) use can be accompanied by a wide array of side effects, including:
• muscle aches
5.) Detox Can Be Self-Administered
While this myth is not widely held, it is easily the most dangerous of all those listed here. Many drug abusers, fearing the perceived expense of detox programs, decide to pursue recovery on their own. They may obtain access to common withdrawal drugs and administer them on their own. This is extremely dangerous and can easily lead to severe side effects or even death. Overdoses frequently occur in those trying to self-treat with such drugs as naltrexone and methadone, which is why access to these drugs is widely restricted.
There is Hope for Recovery
Detoxification can offer drug abusers hope for recovery, especially if they have been struggling to get past unbearable physical withdrawal symptoms. However, patients will find their efforts most successful if they learn to distinguish fact from fiction before entering detox.