What Is a Medical Detox Center?

Medical detoxification is a way of safely managing the severe physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with quitting drug or alcohol use. Detoxification is a way of clearing toxins from the body of the patient who is severely intoxicated or dependent on substances of abuse.                   

A medical detox center provides a monitored recovery process. Medical detoxification programs are for people struggling with the more extreme end of substance abuse problems. A residential addiction treatment program allows the patient to be treated carefully during acute physical withdrawal, which is often the most difficult part of recovery.

The Washington Circle Group (a group of experts organized to improve the quality and effectiveness of substance abuse treatment), defines detoxification this way. 

 “A detoxification program is not designed to resolve the long-standing psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with alcohol and drug use.”

The length of the detox process and the types of medication used will vary depending on the kind of addiction, the patient’s personal and family history, and the resources available at the treatment center.    

Detoxification is the first process in the journey towards recovery. Medical detox attempts to ensure that addicts can complete this first step without relapsing. 

From here, residential, intensive outpatient, and aftercare programs can take place. Detox should be followed by education, therapy, and long-term support services.

Someone with a severe drug addiction problem may not be able to stop using drugs on their own. Fortunately, there are options for people with addictions like this. A medical detox center provides a monitored recovery process. Medical detoxification programs are for people struggling with the more extreme end of substance abuse problems.

The Three Components to Detox

The WCG describes three essential components to detox that may take place simultaneously or in steps:

  • Evaluation—This includes testing for the presence of substances of abuse in the bloodstream, measuring the concentration, and screening for co-occurring mental and physical conditions. It serves as the basis for the treatment plan once the withdrawal is completed.
  • Stabilization—Stabilization includes the medical and social processes of helping the patient through the intoxication and withdrawal to the accomplishment of a medically stable, substance-free condition. This may or may not include medications. It also includes getting the patient familiar with what to expect in treatment and their part in treatment and recovery. At this time, personnel may also seek the involvement of family, employers, and other significant people.

Fostering the patient’s entry into treatment—This step involves preparing the patient for entry into treatment by emphasizing the importance of following through with the complete course of treatment.

Inpatient treatment allows the patient to be treated carefully during acute physical withdrawal, which is often the most difficult part of recovery. The withdrawal phase occurs immediately after the patient stops using drugs, and is extremely uncomfortable.

individual filling out paperwork to enter a medical detox center

Physical withdrawals are commonly seen from drugs such as opiates (heroin, Oxycontin,) benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax) and alcohol, and can include symptoms such as:

  • Shaking
  • Nausea
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Vertigo
  • Cravings
  • Crawling skin
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Cold sweats

These are just a few of the symptoms that tend to occur with various forms of withdrawal. Oftentimes, the combination of these symptoms is too much for the addict to handle without medical treatment. 

The withdrawal phase occurs immediately after the patient stops using drugs. This experience can be extremely uncomfortable. Physical withdrawals are commonly seen from drugs such as opiates (heroin, Oxycontin,) benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax) and alcohol, and can include most of these symptoms. 

Often, the combination of these symptoms is too much for the addict to handle without medical treatment. The rate of relapse for drug addicts who attempt to quit without medical treatment is quite high. That is why medical detox is encouraged for those suffering from substance abuse. The rate of relapse for drug addicts who attempt to quit without medical treatment is quite high. You don’t need to suffer alone. 

Detoxification is the first process in the journey towards recovery. Medical detox attempts to ensure that addicts can complete this first step without relapsing. From here, residential, intensive outpatient, and aftercare programs can take place.

There are two models of substance detoxification that may be used:

  1. Medical model–Medical detox is accomplished with a doctor, a nursing staff, and the use of medication to help people go through withdrawal safely.  
  2. Social model—The social model doesn’t use medication and routine medical care. It usually employs a non-hospital environment and a nonmedical staff to monitor withdrawal symptoms and eases the patient through the process.

It is rare these days to find a strict adherence to either the detox model. Some social model programs use medication to help with withdrawal but still rely on nonmedical staff to monitor symptoms. Likewise, medical model programs will usually have some elements to address the social and personal aspects of addiction.

Because the concept of addiction has changed, detoxification needs have also changed. The popularity of cocaine, heroin, and other substances has led to the need for different kinds of detox services. People with substance use disorders are likely to abuse more than one drug at the same time. (i.e. polysubstance use). This can complicate the detox process and requires a more intense approach. The process of detox is different for everyone.

Patients going through detoxification need to be assured that someone cares about them and respects them as individuals. Medical personnel regularly demonstrates that there is hope and that the treatment program can be trusted and followed.

Is a Medical Detox Center Necessary?

Drug addiction can be very stressful – not just for the addict, but for friends, family, or anyone close to the user. Drug addiction can cause a whole slew of unpleasant situations. Consider the ultimate costs associated with not getting the proper treatment for addiction. 

  • Hospital visits can be caused by overdoses or improper use of drugs.
  • Police contact can occur when a drug user is arrested, or when they’re involved in a situation that requires them to give a statement.
  • Violence is fairly common in the drug scene. People going through withdrawals will resort to violence to get another fix. Drug debt that cannot be paid financially is also often dealt with by injuring the person in debt.

These tough situations can make it hard to hope for a stable future.

While these external situations can be very difficult, medical detox plays another important role. During addiction to chemical drugs, the brain becomes reliant on the constant influx of certain chemicals. This constant influx causes neurological changes – since the brain is receiving a flood of neurotransmitters from elsewhere, it will begin to produce fewer neurotransmitters on its own.

Helping the brain learn how to efficiently produce its own neurotransmitters is one of the main goals of a medical detox center. Part of the withdrawal process is the brain learning to cope with a minimal amount of certain key neurotransmitters as it struggles to produce them on its own.

If you, or someone that you love, is starting to feel like it’s time to give up, then maybe it’s time to consider medical detox.

What is the Next Step After Detox?

Treatment and rehabilitation include ongoing assessment of the patient’s physical, psychological, and social status as well as environmental risk factors that might trigger a relapse. Strategies are developed to help the patient refrain from using drugs or alcohol again. The goal is to help the patient reach a higher level of social functioning by reducing risk factors and lessening the possibility of relapse.

Detox is only the first step in the treatment process. Medical detox successfully breaks the bonds of physical addiction, but ongoing treatment is required to help break the bonds of psychological addiction. Depending on your unique circumstances, there is a treatment plan that will be best for you. 

A Plan for Life-Long Recovery

Life-long recovery maintenance includes the continuation of counseling and support stipulated in the treatment plan. Further strategies to avoid relapse are strengthened. Ongoing engagement in therapy and/or self-help groups like 12-step programs may also be necessary to prevent relapse.

If you, or someone that you love, is starting to feel like it’s time to give up, then maybe it’s time to consider medical detox.

Does Los Angeles Have Resources For Medical Detox?

The state of California has been home to some of the best detox facilities in the United States. There are all sorts of different facilities available to treat addicts. California’s drug policy is one of the best across the country. As a result, California’s citizens have some of the most reliable access to drug treatment programs in the country, and these programs are known to provide some of the most effective recoveries.

California’s medical detox facilities are all staffed by certified professionals. They can help guide an addict through the process of detox with assisted therapy, medication, and supervision.

To enroll in a medical detox, the patient will be admitted into a facility for the duration of their withdrawal period. During that period, they will receive careful medical attention that suits their particular needs. They may receive:

  • Medication such as Ativan or Xanax. These medications, while addictive in their own right, can ease the withdrawal symptoms for drugs like heroin and alcohol. For withdrawal from Ativan or Xanax, patients may receive Gabapentin or another similar substance.
  • Addiction therapy services take place after the acute withdrawal phase, to help a patient reintegrate back into a sober mindset.
  • Nutritional supplementation is necessary to help an addict restore a healthy balance of vitamins and minerals. Many overlook nutritional deficiency although it plays a big part in extending the recovery period.

If you, or someone that you love, is starting to feel like it’s time to give up, then maybe it’s time to consider medical detox. Anything else that the medical staff deems necessary for their recovery can be provided at the facility.

To learn more about a medical detox center, contact LA Detox at (866) 932-8563 today.