What picture comes to mind when you hear “drug detox center”? A roomful of people groaning on cots in the fetal position? An assembly line that guides patients through the worst of withdrawal, then turns them out with admonitions to “stay clean”?
Although most people can now easily find a drug or alcohol detox center in their area—Googling “drug rehab Orange County,” for instance, returns over 800,000 results, and “Orange County detox” 778,000—many people still have no real idea what drug detox programs are like. This article provides some interesting facts about detox centers—and, hopefully, some reassurance if you’re nervous about getting treatment.
1. Drug detox centers are considerably safer than home detox.
Alcohol detox is an extremely dangerous health procedure to attempt without professional guidance, and the same applies to withdrawal from many other substances. If you attempt to “just quit,” you’re risking heart failure, stoppage of breath, seizure, suicidal impulses or another life-threatening emergency—in a setting where you may not have time and presence of mind to summon help. Plus, you’ll lack access to professionally managed methods of easing withdrawal symptoms, and to professional advice on how dangerous the symptoms really are and when they’ll end. Without which, it could seem your only option is a fresh dose of the addictive substance—which not only sabotages your detox goal, but increases the risk of overdose because your body and mind are now in an unfamiliar situation.
2. Drug detox centers offer quick access to qualified medical help.
At a drug or alcohol detox center, you avoid the above situations because licensed medical professionals are on quick call. (Never consider a detox center that lacks affiliations with any recognized medical service.) You’ll get professional opinions on whether you need medications to ease withdrawal, or what alternate options are recommended. And if a medical crisis develops nonetheless, treatment will be at hand.
3. Drug detox centers respect their clients as individuals.
Thankfully, modern medicine understands that individual patients differ in their needs and in their responses to treatment. Drug and alcohol detox providers are no exception to the rule: any qualified program will evaluate you physically and psychologically, and may even suggest other centers that might fit you better. (Incidentally, don’t believe the rumor that drug detox programs are reserved for those who have “hit bottom.” Detox centers will take you at any stage of addiction; if anything, they prefer you come in early when the problem is easier to treat.)
4. Drug detox centers use various approaches to treatment.
As drug detox patients are individuals, treatment approaches also vary. Some are kind-but-firm; some emphasize the gentle touch; some are based on specific religious philosophies; some work regularly with special-needs patients. If you feel strongly about any particular approach—say you want to avoid anything that remotely resembles “grilling”—don’t just call the first center that pops up in a search for “drug rehab Orange County.” Look at individual centers’ websites and see what they emphasize.
5. Drug detox centers use different medical approaches for different substances.
The “different strokes for different folks” principle also applies to the substance being detoxed from. Some substances (including most opiates) cause withdrawal symptoms that are unpleasant but rarely life-threatening; a patient may only need to be kept under observation, well-hydrated and as comfortable as possible. Other substances (benzodiazepines are a prime example) cause such severe withdrawal symptoms that carefully regulated medication is used to help detoxers ease into sobriety with minimum danger. Make sure to provide details on everything you’ve taken—including substances that aren’t part of your addiction but may affect your body chemistry in other ways.
6. Drug detox centers offer qualified counseling.
And detox treatment doesn’t stop at helping you through physical withdrawal. Drug and alcohol detox staff—often licensed therapists—are trained to help you explore the reasons behind your addiction and plan alternate ways of coping with these problems. Detox centers understand that, without addressing the deeper needs you’ve tried to meet in unhealthy ways, “getting sober” is unlikely to last long and may propel you into a detox–relapse–detox–relapse cycle that could wreak worse havoc than ongoing addiction.
Small-group counseling with fellow detoxers should also be part of the program—by getting to know others with similar problems, you won’t feel so alone and you’ll pick up ideas and insights for healthier post-detox living.
7. Drug detox centers provide referrals to aftercare counseling and sobriety support.
Further counseling and regular participation in a support group will likely be among the post-treatment relapse-prevention methods recommended by your treatment center. Your detox counselor should recommend options that suit your personal needs. While discussing these recommended resources, ask about counseling styles and philosophies, convenience of locations and how well the ongoing-counseling schedule will coordinate with your other responsibilities.
8. Drug detox centers operate with an eye to the long term.
If you haven’t guessed by now, a good addiction detox center understands that sobriety is not simply a destination but a lifelong journey. To build a long-term addiction-free life, you need a strong sense of purpose and healthy self-respect. Your detox center—and, later, your long-term therapist and support group—will help you plan and stick to these.
9. Drug detox centers are affordable.
If you’re thinking, “That’s all fine, but it sounds expensive”—be assured you won’t have to go into debt. With the publicity surrounding addiction and detox among celebrities, it’s easy to get the idea that most drug and alcohol detox centers are resort-style accommodations with matching prices. Actually, many centers are no-frills, low-cost places and still offer excellent treatment. All the funding doesn’t necessarily have to come from your own pockets, either. Since substance addiction is an illness, it’s covered under the mental-health provisions of most health insurance plans, and you may also qualify for government disability assistance. (Note that “more expensive detox” doesn’t always equal “more effective detox”; high standards and a good patient–program match are more important.)
10. Drug detox centers can feel surprisingly “like home.”
Finally, consider a detox center’s atmosphere and amenities before making your final decision. Make a preliminary visit, if at all possible, and tour the grounds in person. You can’t expect drug or alcohol detox to be a pleasant experience, but it’ll be easier if your surroundings remind you of home or another favorite place.
Soon enough, you’ll be through detox and back in your real home. When your memories of the detox center are favorable, you’ll be motivated to bring things associated with those memories—including living without drugs—into your everyday life.
Inland Detox, the top drug and alcohol detox center in southern California, is located in the relaxing Temecula Valley, an easy drive from most urban centers. If you or a loved one need detox care, please call (888) 739-8296 to arrange a visit.