Detox, also known as medical detox, refers to the removal of drugs and substances built up in the body because of drug or alcohol abuse. Medical detox is usually the first stage in drug rehab, with several stages following. Detox generally involves abstinence from drugs, but new treatment modalities support a tapering approach with medication.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) regulates Detox and other addiction recovery services in Kentucky. The DPH works with rehab institutions to ensure that the rehabilitation methods developed and promoted by these facilities are healthy and essential for recovery.
The average detox program in Kentucky lasts 14 days, according to a 2019 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). However, this period may be longer for several reasons, such as the type of drugs abused, the person's history of substance dependence, and overall health status.
According to SAMHSA, the average length of alcohol detox is 14 days. However, several factors affect the duration of alcohol detox, including:
The detoxification process is typically divided into three stages: evaluation, stabilization, and preparation for addiction treatment.
Addiction recovery specialists seek to assess and understand a patient's substance abuse history at this stage. The results of this initial evaluation serve as a foundation for the detox plan. Still, it is typical for assessment and reassessment to continue throughout treatment to ensure the best recovery outcome for patients. Besides assessing the patient's addiction history, recovery specialists screen the patient for co-occurring mental and physical disorders and test for substances in the bloodstream.
Stabilization is the main stage of detox, as the patient abstains from drugs and withdrawal symptoms set in. Addiction recovery specialists manage these symptoms typically by administering medication or a non-pharmacological approach to ease symptoms. Later in this stage, the patient also learns about the best plan for further treatment.
This stage prepares the patient for entry into a formal rehab program. Addiction recovery specialists help the patient understand the importance of continuing treatment, especially for persons who have relapsed multiple times or habitually leave rehab halfway through.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorizes medication-assisted treatment to manage the withdrawal symptoms during drug and alcohol detox — based on the patient's needs and when necessary, of course. However, despite their usefulness, these medications often come with side effects.
This medication reduces reliance on alcohol by reacting with transmitter systems in the brain. Common side effects include an extreme feeling of sadness, fear, and depression.
Drugs in this class are sedative in nature. Addiction recovery specialists administer them during detox to help patients cope with anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia. However, patients who are prescribed benzodiazepines also run the risk of addiction. Other side effects include muscle weakness, drowsiness, slurred speech, and memory problems.
This painkiller helps patients deal with physical pain from withdrawal. Common side effects include nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, drowsiness, or sweating.
Buprenorphine is an opioid that acts against opioid use disorder (OUD). Side effects of buprenorphine are tooth decay, muscle cramps, sweating, and insomnia.
Home detox refers to a situation in which a person decides to go through detox without consulting addiction treatment professionals. It is not to be confused with ambulatory detox, an outpatient treatment done under expert supervision at home.
While home detox is a feasible option theoretically, it is widely unsafe, and intense withdrawal symptoms can cause a person to relapse. Also, people who detox at home do not have access to the support that professionals at detox centers provide.
Rapid detox is a procedure that aims to reduce the time a person spends detoxing by sedating the patient and using medication to hasten the removal of drugs from the body.
Rapid detox is mostly used for persons with opioid addiction by giving the patient an opioid antagonist, like Naltrexone. The procedure typically takes 6-8 hours, after which the patient is placed on extra medication to ease side effects.
Rapid detox is an unorthodox and controversial mode of drug and alcohol detox. A study published in the National Library of Medicine concludes that the risks of rapid detox outweigh the benefits. Some of the common dangerous side effects associated with rapid detox include:
Detox aims to eliminate toxic substances from the body and reduce dependence on drugs and alcohol. However, detox is only the first step in addiction treatment. After its completion, patients have the following options:
Medication-assisted treatment is an effective way to maintain addiction therapy after detox, especially for people who have a long history of addiction. With medication-assisted treatment, experts replace the dangerous substance of abuse with safer alternatives while working towards sobriety.
Following detox, patients might enroll in a residential, inpatient, or partial hospitalization program to receive 24-hour care and therapy. However, in partial hospitalization, the patient is not required to live in the facility where they are treated. Instead, patients receive treatment at the facility daily for a set amount of time.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) are regulated, non-residential, and focused rehab programs. Patients who choose this option will receive rigorous treatment but will be able to return home after daily treatment. They usually do not require constant supervision, allowing the person to go about their daily routine without interruption.
Outpatient addiction treatment programs are a much less stringent option for addiction therapy that does not include 24-hour care or supervision. Patients are not required to live in a rehab facility because the program is tailored to the individual's daily routine. Outpatient therapy acts as a support structure, providing clinical and community care and counseling to help people live a life free of drugs and alcohol.
After completing addiction treatment, enrolling in a sober living program might be the key factor between staying sober and relapsing. Sober living programs act as a bridge between inpatient treatment and the real world, allowing people to return to normalcy in their daily lives while sustaining their sobriety.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Family and Health Services offers access to agencies and organizations that help people with drug addiction. For more information, patients are encouraged to call in at (502) 564-6890.
SAMHSA also operates a helpline at (800) 662-4357 that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Conversations with SAMHSA representatives are confidential. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, SAMHSA's treatment center locator is another easy way to locate a rehab program that has been assessed and rated by independent specialists. The locator displays the location of the facility as well as contact information. You'll also find a list of various therapies, amenities, and payment methods.