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Drug Detox 101: What You Need To Know

If an individual is struggling with substance abuse, they might want to consider different treatment options. Many people find this tricky to navigate. The amount of information available online can be overwhelming. Different doctors will suggest different methodologies. Everyone shares their anecdotal experiences. 

Someone searching for help can easily find themselves with a list of questions but no solid answers. Here are a few of the more common questions people have about drug and alcohol detox, and the answers.

Drug Detox 101: What You Need To Know

Knowing what to expect going into a detox program will make it easier.

What Is Drug Detox?

Drug detox is a good first step for anyone with a substance use disorder (SUD) seeking long-term recovery. Essentially, it’s when the body is allowed to remove harmful toxins. Due to the brain's dependence on substances, a person will experience mild to severe symptoms during withdrawal. The detox facility will evaluate the needs of each client. The staff eases withdrawal symptoms by following the care plan; this typically involves the use of both medications and mental health support. 

Additionally, a patient may receive care for comorbid mental health disorders. The goal is stabilization. The facility ensures physical safety. After the peak of withdrawal symptoms, the client and health care providers will collaborate on the next steps.

What Will It Feel Like to Detox?

Detox can be uncomfortable, physically and emotionally. The body will feel fatigued as the substances taper out of its system. A person in detox may experience body aches. Mentally, they might experience an increase in anxiety and irritability. Nausea and vomiting are also common. 

Unfortunately, there is no one exact answer because the specific withdrawal symptoms a person will experience depend on the substance(s) in an individual's system, the potency, the method of consumption, and the duration of use. 

Does Insurance Cover Detox?

Cost can create a barrier to treatment for people with SUDs. With astronomical medical prices, a person might fear going deep in debt. Under the Affordable Care Act, most insurance companies are required to cover behavioral and mental health care

As the first part of substance abuse treatment, it is frequently covered by insurance. The thing to check is whether a person must pay a copay or deductible under their program. An insurer may also require that a client attend a detox facility within their network of providers. Should the person go out of network, the insurance company can refuse to pay anything. 

It is important to note that many drug rehab and addiction center facilities offer payment programs for people whose insurance will not pay. They can offer sliding scale costs for low-income individuals without insurance. Some states also provide payment assistance or coverage for addiction. Additionally, if the cost exceeds a certain percentage of a person's income, they can deduct the cost from their yearly taxes.

Why You Should Give Rapid Detox A Pass

Rapid detox is touted as a pain-free, withdrawal-free way to detox from opioid use. The concept involves placing a person under general anesthesia for a few hours while administering opioid antagonists. Theoretically, a person will wake up free from their addiction. 

Despite the appeal, rapid detox is unproven and dangerous. Aetna, for example, released a policy explanation on ultrarapid opioid detox, analyzing the studies and data. They found very little data to show efficacy for treating opioid use disorder, classifying the treatment as experimental. Additionally, the CDC released a 2013 statement explaining that serious adverse reactions and death have occurred as a result of rapid detox. Therefore, it is not recommended that anybody participate in rapid detox. Most insurance companies will not cover it.

How Long Does Detox Last?

At intake, doctors will evaluate the needs of the client. Withdrawal management can last anywhere between a few days and multiple weeks, depending on the substance(s) consumed. General guidance suggests the following time ranges for detoxification:

  • Opioids: 4-20 days
  • Inhalants: 2-14 days
  • Stimulants: 3-5 days
  • Alcohol: 2-10 days
  • Benzodiazepines: 2-8 weeks

The time period will vary greatly, so it is best to discuss this with the detox facility's doctors and psychiatrists. Though it may seem inconvenient to set aside an indeterminate time period for treatment, detoxing at home can be extremely dangerous. Detox can cause seizures, delirium, and even death when not monitored properly.

What Is the Next Step After Detox?

After a person completes the acute withdrawal phase of detox, they will meet with medical professionals in order to create a future treatment plan. Options can include residential treatment, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, day treatment, and intensive therapy. 

One program plan does not fit everyone because needs vary greatly. A client should focus on a few constants, though. First, social support will assist in maintaining long-term recovery. Second, high-risk environments should be avoided at all costs, lest a person relapses into substance use. Third, people should utilize coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques. Finally, they should be honest with themselves about their mental state.

If you or someone you love struggles to manage their substance use, you might consider detox as the first line of treatment. Finding a detox provider, however, also requires consideration. takes the sting out of hunting for a detox provider. We’ve carefully compiled thousands of detox listings. Finding a detox center near you for your needs and budget has never been easier.

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