The decision to stop using or drinking is one of the most important choices we’ll make for our long-term physical and mental health. However, substance use disorders are also one of the most difficult challenges to overcome. Whether it’s overcoming strong cravings and withdrawal symptoms, or mitigating depression and anxiety, the medical detoxification process is designed to ensure the safest and most comfortable regimen for transitioning into recovery.
When is it appropriate to seek out medical detoxification rather than detoxing at home? There are several key indicators that will help us identify when it’s best to seek out a inpatient detox program.
When an individual experiences withdrawal symptoms
After chronic use of a substance for nearly any length of time, our bodies and brains have undergone some level of adaptation to the substance we’ve been using. Our body chemistry has changed to accommodate the substance, and our systems have become dependent on it. When an individual stops using a substance after a period of chronic use, our bodies will often undergo dramatic changes that produce symptoms ranging from minor discomforts to life-threatening illnesses.
Often, we individuals aren’t aware of the actual dangers that accompany substance use withdrawal. The symptoms can be mild, such as sweating, tremors, and body aches, but can range all the way to seizures, high blood pressure, cardiac complications, and even death.
Of course, every individual detox is different and every substance detox is different. There is no way to know if the detoxification process will go smoothly or if complications will occur. Because of this, its almost never recommended that an individual attempt self-detox when withdrawal symptoms are present.
Supervised medical detoxification at an inpatient treatment facility is the safest way to detoxify from chronic substance use. An inpatient facility will be staffed 24/7 with licensed medical professionals who will monitor the individual around the clock. If any complications arise, there is immediate access to medical help to ensure the greatest level of comfort and safety during detox.
When mental health issues complicate detoxification
It isn’t only physical symptoms that occur during the medical detoxification process. Depression and anxiety are very common symptoms that accompany withdrawal. Anxiety is often debilitating to the point of being incapable of caring for onesself. Depression can lead to self-harming behaviors including thoughts of suicide.
When an individual has a mental health disorder that co-occurs alongside a substance use addiction, it is called a dual diagnosis. People with a dual diagnosis are at even greater risk for mental health complications during the medical detoxification process.
Physicians that staff detox centers are typically board-certified psychiatrists with specializations in addiction medicine. They are highly trained to identify and treat co-occurring mental health disorders during the process of substance use detoxification and addiction treatment. They will ensure that every patient is not only comfortable during detox, but remains as physically and mentally stable as possible during the process.
When willpower alone isn’t enough to overcome the urge to drink or use
Those attempting a do-it-yourself home detox will face many greater challenges than those who choose an inpatient medical detoxification facility. Often, home detox is unsuccessful as there is little accountability to prevent the individual from drinking or using to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
Aside from medical supervision and medication management, a licensed detoxification facility provides a safe place that supports an individual’s desire to stop drinking and using. When the cravings and desire to use become too much to handle, the caring and supportive staff of the detox facility can provide the support needed to ensure the individual’s success.
Is it time to seek out medical detoxification?
If someone is struggling with a substance use disorder, there is no better time than right now to seek help. The longer an individual drinks or uses substances, the more unpleasant detoxification will become. The individual also risks greater complications from their addiction, including long-term disabilities, overdose, and death.
Gateway Recovery Center is a standalone detoxification facility serving Minnesota’s Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and St. Paul. We are staffed with highly trained and licensed medical professionals who treat every individual with respect, compassion, and understanding. Most of our staff has been through the detoxification process themselves and have made it to long-term successful recovery. We urge those who are struggling with an addiction to contact us today to begin their recovery journey. Our facility is open 24/7, 365 days a year to accept admissions and to help our guests begin a new life. Call us today!
For more information about withdrawal and detoxification, please check out these articles on our website: