Medical detox, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is a method of safely managing withdrawal symptoms that are triggered when one ceases drug use. It is only one step in the overall recovery process, but it is a critical first step. To maximize the chances of long-term abstinence, individuals should be surrounded by supportive people during withdrawal.
Per the Department of Health and Human Services, evaluation and stabilization are important parts of detox. Individuals are tested for substances of abuse and their concentrations, and screened for physical and mental issues that can impact the detox and recovery process. In the stabilization phase, medical, psychological, and social aspects of withdrawal are managed.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40-60 percent of people who struggle with drug addiction relapse. These relapse rates are similar to those of chronic physical diseases, such as asthma and diabetes. Those who successfully complete detox and continue into a comprehensive treatment program are more likely to abstain from drug use and function better in a social, psychological, and occupational capacity. Support from loved ones and addiction treatment professionals is critical to remaining in treatment on a long-term basis, and this is vital to guarding against relapse.
Whether conducted at a facility or an outpatient clinic, drug detox and recovery should involve the help of supportive professionals and family and friends. Individuals in detox are often afraid and uncertain. Per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, facility staff should educate clients on their addiction and withdrawal symptoms, offering support and guidance.
Further, a clinician’s job also involves instructing visitors, family members, and friends on the importance of support during detox and ongoing recovery. Supportive individuals in can motivate the client to remain abstinent and strengthen their resolve to ongoing recovery.
People Who Can Offer Support during Detox
- Family: Whether traditional or not, family members can be a crucial part of detox and continued recovery. In some instances, this is one’s traditional family, and in other instances, it’s the family we choose, such as dear friends. Choose family members who are supportive and positive. If there are major relationship issues with a particular family member, it’s best to leave them out of the detox process.Most people experience relationship issues as a result of ongoing drug abuse. As a result, family therapy may be part of the addiction recovery process. Once the client has completed detox, family therapy can help to repair damaged relationships. In therapy, families can learn how they may have fostered the addiction, and communication amongst all members can be improved. Family therapy often begins after the detox phase of treatment is complete.If the client is participating in inpatient detox, family members may visit the detox facility to offer support or encouragement. If visitors are not permitted during detox, they may call or send letters, just to show they are thinking of the person. If the client is undergoing outpatient detox, family members are crucial parts of the treatment team, helping the individual to avoid temptation and offering support throughout the entire process.
- Medical professionals: During medical detox, clients are supervised by medical professionals around the clock. Doctors, therapists, nurses, and other staff members treat withdrawal symptoms as they arise and also offer ongoing encouragement as the person progresses through withdrawal. If the person is going through outpatient medical detox, they may check in with a medical professional once or twice per day to ensure symptoms are under control, and the person is avoiding relapse.
- Peers: Peer support or 12-Step groups can be a source of support and motivation during detox, and medical detox programs often recommend attendance. Individuals can learn from the experiences of others in the group and garner motivation as they undergo detox. In addition, group members can begin to build a sense of optimism and self-worth during the vulnerable stages of early recovery.SAMHSA further emphasizes peer support and social inclusion. Peer support services bring individuals together who have common experiences, including substance abuse and/or mental health disorders. A sense of belonging in the community can be important during detox and ongoing recovery. Social connections provide access to recovery resources and lead to recreational, cultural, educational, and other opportunities that contribute to overall wellbeing.