One of the more common questions we hear at Addiction Helper is, “How long does detox take?” People want to know in order to plan time away from work, care for the kids, and so on. Yet it is a question that can only be answered after a thorough assessment of an individual’s circumstances.
The short and easy answer is to say addiction detox can be completed within 5 to 7 days. But that is to oversimplify the matter. Every addict is different in terms of the length of his or her addiction, the seriousness of that addiction, and what substances he or she is addicted to. All of these things play into the length of time detox requires.
To explain this further, it is necessary to discuss a number of different types of detox methods:
- Medicated Detox – The most common form of detox these days is medicated detox. It involves prescribing certain types of drugs that help reduce symptoms in order to achieve a more gradual and less dangerous withdrawal. Sometimes maintenance medications are used to fight cravings in the weeks and months following detox.
- Non-Medicated Detox – Also known as the ‘cold turkey’ method, non-medicated detox used to be the norm as late as 10 years ago. Under this method, the recovering addict is immediately separated from addictive substances with no intermediate medication involved. The only times additional drugs are used are when a medical emergency presents itself.
- Rapid Detox – There is a new method of detox known as ‘rapid detox’. This method promises complete detox within five days among those for whom it is deemed appropriate. It is accomplished by using an IV to introduce a formula of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals directly into the system, thereby speeding up detoxification and reducing withdrawal symptoms.
- Natural Detox – This method of detox is similar to rapid detox inasmuch as no drugs are used. Instead, patients are given a variety of vitamins and minerals to aid in detoxification and natural recovery.
The Detox of Setting
Now that you know the basic types of detox methods available, the next thing to discuss is the setting under which detox takes place. The setting often plays a huge role in whether or not a recovering addict will succeed because it influences the thoughts and emotions experienced throughout the process.
Inpatient detox can take place at a private clinic or an NHS hospital. Inpatient detox involves a residential stay at whatever facility is chosen, for the duration of the process. Under normal circumstances, this type of detox can be completed in about a week. This is true whether medicated or non-medicated detox is used.
Outpatient detox is an entirely different matter. It involves having the recovering addict visit a clinic or hospital on a daily basis. The daily visits are designed to provide prescription medication while also allowing medical professionals to monitor the progress and health of the patient. Outpatient detox is not the right choice for everyone.
The main problem with outpatient detox comes by way of the fact that the recovering addict is not separated from his or her normal circumstances. And often times it is these very circumstances that enable addictive behaviour. When outpatient detox fails, it often fails big. Consider outpatient detox for heroin addiction as just one example.
The NHS began using the drug methadone for medicated outpatient detox a number of years ago. But rather than successfully ushering addicts through the detox process, it soon became apparent that methadone was being used simply as a replacement drug. Today it is not uncommon to find heroin addicts all across the UK who have been undergoing ‘heroin detox’ with methadone for years. That’s not really detox, is it?
Moving on, there is one final setting that is showing great promise for detox: the home. When home detox is deemed appropriate, it offers the benefits of a safe and comfortable environment and the support of other family members who live in the home. Some suggest home detox is second only to residential detox in terms of effectiveness.
Patient Attitude Important
Thus far, we have looked at different detox methods and the various settings under which detox takes place. However, there is one final component that cannot be ignored: the attitude of the patient. Among all the considerations, none is more important than attitude.
It has been said by more than one addiction specialist that the alcoholic or drug addict cannot truly be helped if he or she does not want to break free from their addiction. We agree. Addiction Helper has seen many occasions in which clients go through detox and rehab half-heartedly, only to relapse shortly after completing a programme.
For any detox to be successful requires the individual addict to be fully committed to getting well. The addict must be willing to do whatever he or she is asked to do, regardless of how foolish or mindless it may seem. They must also be willing to own their addiction as well. The longer it takes the addict to come to terms with personal liability and responsibility, the longer the detox process will take.
Detox Can’t Be Avoided
We would love to tell you that you could overcome your addiction without having to endure detox. However, we cannot. The truth of the matter is that detox cannot be avoided if you expect to get well. Your body must be allowed to cleanse itself from the chemicals and compounds you put into it. There is no way to do that without going through the detox process.
The good news is that no detox ever needs last forever. If you are willing to undergo a relatively short time of discomfort, you can come out the other side completely free of alcohol or drugs. Then you will be ready to begin the rehab process, which will prepare you to face life without addictive substances.
Addiction Helper wants to assist you getting started on that road to recovery. Are you ready to commit to detox?