Should I Detox Before I Go to Rehab?
Now that you are preparing for rehab, you are probably thinking about detox, the process by which you transition from acutely intoxicated to a drug and alcohol free state. Surely, you should get that out of the way before you head into treatment? Don’t you want to start clean and fresh.
The danger with this type of thinking is that it leads people to decide that they should do a self-detox, which can be stressful and even dangerous. Most treatment centers offer detox as the initial stage of treatment and they guide you through that process before you begin formal treatment.
So, when you wonder if you should do detox before treatment, the answer is “yes.” But, you should do it through your rehab center or a formal detox center and not as a home endeavor. This is the most effective and safe way to get your treatment started. In addition, getting professional detox cuts down your chances of relapse.
What Is Detox?
You know all about detox from movies and TV and fad diets. Someone is always on the screen getting past their heroin use by being chained somewhere to suffer through withdrawals. Other people are skipping through life because they are doing a juice detox. Neither of these accurately represent the medical detox offered by professionals.
It’s actually a comprehensive process with multiple stages:
- Nurturing the patient’s transition into treatment
Before you even begin detoxing, the staff will lead you through an assessment period that marks the concentration of intoxicants in your system and screens you for any co-occurring mental or physical conditions. They also evaluate your psychological, medical, and social situation. This means that you detox is tailored specifically to you on a comprehensive level.
At the close of detox, you will be offered resources and support as you begin formal drug and alcohol treatment.
These stages simply can’t be replicated outside of professional care. So, yes, by all means you should consider detox the first stage of treatment, but you shouldn’t go it alone and you shouldn’t try to replace treatment with detox.
Why Do I Need Detox Before Treatment?
Honestly, you simply won’t be physically, emotionally, or mentally prepared to participate in rehab if you are still working your way through the detox process.
Ultimately, you will go through detox in some form, whether you want to or not, as soon as you stop using. The only way to stop it will be to use again. This is why so many people who try to detox independently fail: they can’t make it through withdrawal and they relapse. As soon as your body starts to miss its substance of choice, it will trigger withdrawals and detox is all about riding out those symptoms if you can.
Now, imagine experiencing the sort of withdrawals that you get from heroin use:
Now, picture experiencing all of that while you try to sit in a group therapy session and quietly listen to another person reveal personal details of their addiction journey. You couldn’t. It isn’t possible. Now imagine getting through individual therapy or yoga class or a 12 step meeting.
So, you know that you will detox regardless and that you can’t do it while you are getting treatment, so the only solution is that you have to do it before you get into the structured, formal aspects of treatment.
Can I Just Do It at Home?
Of course, we all want to DIY everything. Why spend the money when you can do something at home? But, we generally relax out do-it-yourself urges when it comes to out medical health and that’s for good reason.
Yes, a heroin user could be confined to a room at home and be sick and achy and unwell for weeks. It happens. But, it is intensely uncomfortable and it can be dangerous. Heck, withdrawal can kill an alcoholic or benzodiazepine user.