However, there are certain drugs that do not require medical detox. They include cocaine, crystal methamphetamine (meth) and marijuana. Medical detox is not needed for these drugs because withdrawal symptoms are not as severe as other drugs. Although not usually medically dangerous, withdrawal symptoms from these drugs range from a feeling of tiredness to major irritability and agitation. So, does someone “need” detoxification to withdraw from these drugs? Generally no, but more often than not, the only reasons that someone “needs” medical detox is for one of the following reasons:
- Feel they can’t stop using without a detox
- Have become psychotic as a result of the use and need medical supervision
- Feel they are a danger to themselves, suicidal
- Have nowhere else to go
Medical detoxification (detox) often precedes addiction treatment at a rehab facility. Detox is the process in which all harmful toxins (drugs, alcohol, or poisonous substances) are eliminated from the body through abstinence, healthy dieting, and withdrawal management. Medical detox, being a precursor to addiction treatment, is usually the first process a client undergoes in order to be ready for therapy.Drugs that Require Medical Detox
There are certain drugs that require detoxification without any exceptions. They include: alcohol, heroin and opiate-related drugs, prescriptions drugs such as Oxycontin, Xanax, Vicodin, and Hydrocodone. Medical detox is vital for clients abstaining from these types of drugs because withdrawal symptoms have severe side-effects which can be fatal if not properly addressed. Detoxing from these drugs may cause nausea, vomiting, trembling, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, seizures, and comas. Medical personnel can help manage these life-threatening symptoms by providing medicine to wean the patient off the drug, decrease physical symptoms, and prevent convulsions. Physicians and nurses are on site to check for vital signs, evaluate mental and physical progress, and support the patient through the withdrawal process. Medical detox can make a difference between life or death situation, helping to prevent emergency situations and preparing the patient for future therapy programs and ongoing counseling.
Medical detoxification usually lasts 3 days to a week. Experts recommend subsequent addiction treatment in a residential setting where a team of addiction treatment professionals carefully develops an individualized treatment plan to support the patient’s recovery.