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OVERVIEW OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE

The disease concept of addiction might seem a relatively straightforward concept, but it’s actually only recently that we’ve begin to see addiction to alcohol, drugs, and even a number of self-destructive behaviors as being a disease. In the not-so-distant past, a person with a substance abuse problem was believed to have a moral affliction due to the assumption that such a person was willfully choosing not to control him or herself. And since they refused to exercise any level of restraint, they were punished. With the advent of the temperance movement, society quickly adopted a staunch opposition to substance abuse, but with the belief that forcing substance abusers into sobriety through confinement and imprisonment would solve the problem. But it was quickly apparent that while you impose sobriety on an addict, you can’t force him or her into abstinence as many of the imprisoned substance abusers quickly returned to their alcohol and drug use after being released from incarceration.

Today, substance abuse and related offenses are still highly criminalized, serving as a reminder of how poorly understood addiction used to be. With the benefit of hindsight and wealth of accumulated research, we learned that addiction is actually a chronic, progressive brain disease, characterized by altered structure and functioning of the brain that occurs due to a period of prolonged substance abuse. After becoming addicted to a dangerous chemical substance, a person exhibits an inability to control his or her own behavior, evidenced by the compulsive pursuit and use of alcohol or drugs despite knowledge of the likely consequences the substance abuse could incur.

There’s hope for those who have fallen prey to this potentially lethal disease. Like most other diseases we encounter today, addiction can be treated. A wealth of recovery resources exist today, allowing addicts the opportunity to find programming that can address their individual, specific needs. However, in order to begin the recovery process, there are some important things a person should know. First, it’s crucial to determine whether a person is actually suffering from addiction. Additionally, one must determine what his or needs actually are and consider what treatments and recovery services would best address those needs. And once the arrangements have been met, it’s time to pack a bag and begin what’s arguably the most important initial step of the rehabilitation process: Detoxification.

DO I HAVE A SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEM?

As mentioned above, it’s important to know for sure whether you’re suffering from an addiction before choosing your medical detox and inpatient programs. If, for example, you’re suffering from physical dependency without many of the qualities of addiction—particularly the disregard for any of the consequences that might result from one’s substance abuse—that will like affect which type of detox treatment you’ll need.

For a person to become addicted, the essential prerequisite is experimentation with recreational alcohol or drug abuse; after all, it’s impossible to become addicted if you’re not using any addictive substances. This experimentation can occur in a number of ways, including the occasional binge-drinking episode, smoking marijuana with friends now and then, or deciding to take one of your prescribed benzodiazepines despite the fact that you’re not experiencing any anxiety at the moment. No matter what form the experimentation takes, the next step in the development of an addiction would be an escalation in the frequency and intensity of the experimentation. In other words, the person would begin abusing or misusing mind-altering substances more frequently and at increasingly higher doses. The purpose of this escalation is because, having enjoyed the initial intoxication or “high”, the individual simply wants to experience the feeling more often and perhaps at a stronger level. This is how a tolerance develops, which means that the individual’s intake of a substance has become so frequent that he or she would need to imbibe more in order to achieve the same level of effect as he or she had previously experienced.

Once a person has develop the physical dependence, the last step is the transition into active addiction. Again, the primary difference between dependence and addiction is that dependence is physical while addiction entails both physical dependence as well as the psychological fixation. In other words, physical dependence is when the body has developed a high tolerance and a physical need—indicated by withdrawal symptoms—while addiction is the disease, characterized by the effects of dependence in addition to uncontrollable cravings and an inability to stop using.

Fortunately, there are a number of signs that often indicate when a person is suffering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Many of these signs are either behavioral or entail some type of observable change.

An alcohol or drug problem coincides with neglect of responsibilities.

As substance abuse takes a more and more central role in a person’s life, most of their responsibilities and obligations start to seem much less important to them. In fact, there are many cases when an addict will blow off something to which they were obligated so that they can go drink or score drugs. Additionally, being frequently intoxicated causes them to care much less about fulfilling their obligations.

Someone addicted to alcohol or drugs often becomes reckless and takes more risks.

Perhaps it’s because he or she had considered substance abuse a risky behavior before becoming addicted, but most people exhibit more risk-taking behavior and recklessness than that for which they had previously been known. This can sometimes be mistaken for thrill-seeking, but the recklessness that many addicts seem to exhibit actually stems from a disregard for consequences.

Relationship problems usually occur as a person is becoming addicted.

Developing an addiction requires a person to live a double life, or at least try. They have this huge secret that they’re trying to keep from everyone, even their from their spouse or romantic partner. However, those closest to the person will usually sense that something is amiss, and the addict’s unwillingness to be truthful causes immense damage to his or her relationships.

A substance abuse problem inevitably results in financial trouble.

Even when a person’s substance of choice is less expensive than most others, there will always come a point when they begin to put most or all of their income into sustaining their habit. As a result, bills start going unpaid, rent or mortgages become late, and car payments get months behind. Although the development of an addiction from substance abuse is a process, the financial hardship that results from a substance abuse problem is often quite abrupt.

An alcohol or drug addiction is usually accompanied by a change in appearance and/or lifestyle.

There are more obvious clues that a person has become addicted to a mind-altering substance, including changes in their appearance and lifestyle. Even the most well-kempt people will begin looking worse for wear and could very well deteriorate to an alarming extreme. Similarly, a person’s lifestyle changes immensely after he or she becomes addicted, which can be observed in dramatic changes in routine, interests, and likely their personality as well.

A sudden change in a person’s social circle often accompanies a substance abuse problem.

Unless the person’s friends are substance abusers—and can, therefore, be considered a strong contributor to the individual’s substance abuse problem—it’s likely that the addict will cut him or herself off, separating from people that could object to alcohol or drug abuse and possible make substance abuse more difficult. In such instances, the person will begin socializing with a different circle of peers, which will likely exhibit many of the qualities that he or she has recently begun to exhibit, especially with regard to appearance; however, an addict won’t usually bring these new “friends” around his or her loved ones for fear that they could "blow their cover." New friend circles is one of the especially common signs your kid is using drugs or experimenting with risky behavior.

  • 6.6 % of the US population drinks heavily
  • 1.5 million Americans were treated for alcohol abuse in 2005
  • 16.6 million people ages 18+ have an alcohol abuse disorder
  • 88,800 die annually from alcohol related deaths

WHAT CAUSES SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL?

Most people know withdrawal as being the discomfort or pain than addict experiences when unable to obtain the substance to which they’re addicted. They’re often aware that it’s related to the addiction in some way, but they don’t usually know why it is that alcoholics and drug addicts experience symptoms of withdrawal when they’re unable to get a fix. Knowing the processes that underlie alcohol and drug withdrawal will help you to better understand the purpose and benefits of a medical detox program.

When a person has just begun to abuse alcohol or drugs, the body is unsure how to respond to these foreign substances that completely alter the brain’s chemical balance. And with the brain’s neural pathways in a tangle, the effects of that substance resonate throughout the rest of the body. The effects are enjoyable when alcohol and drugs are actually in the system because their consumption triggers a rush of hormones and neurochemicals that cause unnaturally strong feelings of pleasure and euphoria. In particular, most mind-altering substances—so-called due to their effect on the brain’s chemistry—are dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, most of which are implicated in processes related to the reward and pleasure circuits, the creation of memories, and the ability to learn from one’s behaviors. This means that the substance abuse causes feelings of intoxication that a person enjoys, and he or she will remember that the misuse of alcohol or drugs is what caused that enjoyable feeling. The effect is a reinforcement of the behavior.

However, as a person continues to abuse alcohol or drugs over a period of time, the body adapts. Anticipating the surge of hormones and neurochemicals that alcohol or drugs will cause, the brain significantly reduces its own, natural production of such chemicals and, instead, begins to rely on alcohol or drugs to maintain the brain’s chemical balance. This is also how a person develops a tolerance: Over time, the substance abuse is no longer causing a surge of feel-good chemicals in the brain, but is simply keeping the levels of those chemicals up to a more natural level. Additionally, this means that when there is no alcohol or drugs in the system, the levels of dopamine and other neurochemicals in the brain plummet. With the brain no longer producing the hormones and neurochemicals needed for stability and without alcohol or drugs to maintain chemical balance in the brain, there are hardly any neurochemicals being produced in the brain. And just as the body experiences effects when alcohol or drugs cause a surge of neurochemicals in the brain, the body also experiences effects when the brain is experiencing a neurochemical deficit. Those effects are withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the most well-known withdrawal symptoms include bodily discomfort and aches, sweating, nausea, restlessness, anxiety, aggravation, depression, trembling and shaking, intermittent hot and cold flashes, insomnia, headaches, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, muscle tension, tightness in the chest, and difficulty breathing. However, there’s a level of variation in the withdrawal symptoms a person might experience due to things like the substance to which he or she is addicted and how long the individual has spent in active addiction. In most cases, withdrawals are unpleasant while not being life-threatening, but alcoholism and benzodiazepine addiction are two forms of chemical dependency known to entail extremely dangerous withdrawal.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF GOING TO A MEDICAL DETOX CENTER?

The majority of people are familiar with alcoholism and drug addiction treatment program, being aware that most addicts will receive individual counseling and participate in group therapy as part of their recoveries. However, there’s much more to overcoming an addiction than individual and group therapies. In fact, there’s one step that comes before the counseling and therapy of a treatment program, and which is so crucial that it’s virtually impossible for many addicts to begin their inpatient addiction treatment programs without it. That essential first step is going to a medical detox center.

That essential first step is going to a medical detox center.

Overcoming the physical side of an addiction is essential before a person can begin to address the mental, emotional, and even spiritual issues that might be at the core of the substance abuse problem. Detoxification is the process through which a person’s body is cleansed of alcohol, drugs, and any other harmful chemicals or toxins that might be present, effectively breaking the individual’s dependence on alcohol or drugs and restoring him or her to a state of physical health. More specifically, a medical detox program offers continuous, round-the-clock supervision and quality medical care from a team of physicians, nurses, and other detox technicians so that a person can overcome physical dependency in as pain-free and comfortable a manner as possible. A medical detox facility is for when a person reaches a point where he or she is no longer physically dependent and, therefore, won’t experience any major withdrawal symptoms as his or her recovery progresses. By having the detox period in which to simply relax and let a team of professionals help you to cleanse your body, you’re able to reflect on the journey ahead and spend this time concentrating on yourself and your own needs. This is a time of rest, relaxation, and reflection, and is an essential precursor to success in the subsequent stages of addiction rehabilitation.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM A MEDICAL DETOX FACILITY?

When choosing a medical detox program, many people have a difficult time focusing on their needs and what features they require from a medical detox program to have those needs met because they’re unsure of what to expect, which can make a person feel anxious. However, medical detoxification is a highly personalized form of treatment, adapting to each patient’s specific needs. For instance, there’s not really a specific set amount of time in which a person is expected to complete his or her medical detox. There’s no pressure to try to force the process so that you can be detoxed according to a deadline. Instead, the approximately length of time that’s needed for a medical detox is estimated during intake and involves personal considerations such as the substance to which you’re addicted, the length of time you’ve been addicted, the severity of your habit, and so on. But even though there’s an approximated length for a medical detox, that doesn’t become your deadline. If it takes you a couple days more or less, the program will be adjusted to your needs. Generally, most people complete a medical detox program in about a week, but it can take less than that or as much as ten days to two weeks. It all depends on the person.

During a medical detox, the patient’s job is to simply relax and let the detoxification process happen on its own. There’s nothing that a patient really needs to do for it to happen although there are some techniques to support or facilitate the process such as addressing dietary needs with a well-balanced diet and making sure to get adequate sleep. The specific components of a medical detox program will vary to a degree from one detox facility to the next. As an example, there are a number of facilities that offer holistic treatments like acupuncture or massage therapy since utilizing a holistic approach in addiction treatment has become extremely popular. Alternately, there are also faith-based detox facilities that might offer a Christ-focused perspective with regard to treatment.

In the event that you were to begin experiencing excessive discomfort due to severe withdrawal symptoms, it’s likely that you would be offered medication to alleviate the discomfort. These so-called “comfort medications” are typically mild, short-acting benzodiazepines, sedatives, or muscle relaxants that can mitigate any discomfort a person might feel due to withdrawal symptoms. In particular, these medications help with things like muscle or joint pains, insomnia, inability to relax, and trembling or shaking.

HOW IS IT BENEFICIAL TO COMPLETE A MEDICAL DETOX PROGRAM?

There are many reasons why it’s beneficial to complete a medical detox center’s program for alcoholism and drug addiction. Perhaps the most important benefit is right in the name. In a medical detox program, you get the benefit of round-the-clock medical care, courtesy of a team of physicians, experienced nurses, detox technicians, and other members of staff. This medical care serves two main purposes: To provide comfort as well as safety.

The reason that detoxification and withdrawal are so frequently associated with pain and discomfort is because the majority of the time when people experience withdrawal symptoms, it’s when they’re forced to go an extended period of time between fixes. This result in their being forced to deal with the full intensity of untreated, unmitigated withdrawal symptoms, but withdrawal and detoxing doesn’t actually have to be painful. By detoxing in a medical detox program, a person is spared from the discomfort that’s expected of withdrawal due to their receiving continuous care by a staff of healthcare professionals whose mission is to make you as comfortable and relaxed as possible during the detoxification experience. Additionally, the medical care that’s offered as an essential part of a medical detox program ensures a person’s safety. While there are only a few addictions for which detoxing is known to be potentially dangerous, it’s crucial for a person to be monitored during this process so that there can be absolute certainty that he or she is never experiencing dangerous or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. The alternative would be to detox on one’s own at home without any means of mitigating the discomfort or any potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

There’s also the benefit of being removed from the environment in which the individual became addicted to alcohol or drugs in the first place. When detoxing on one’s own at home, a person must resist relapsing while surrounded with many things that they are likely to associate with using. This can include people, objects, or even just being at home. However, being in a medical detox program at an actual detox facility offers separation, allowing a person to focus on recovery and on the detoxification process. Moreover, this makes one’s stay at a medical detox facility a much more relaxing, serene experience.

OTHER IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS OF MEDICAL DETOX PROGRAMS

When choosing the right medical detox center for your specific needs, there are a number of considerations to make that can affect your success not just during detox, but during the recovery process as a whole. One such consideration that is very often overlooked is the location of one’s detox facility. Location may not seem like a deciding factor, but it definitely can be. For instance, you’d probably want either a detox center located near to the treatment facility where you’ll go for inpatient treatment, or perhaps a facility that offers both the medical detox and inpatient addiction treatment programs. If transferring from a detox facility to an inpatient rehab involves travel, this puts one’s sobriety at risk since an individual would likely encounter much temptation before he or she has learned how to resist the temptation to drink alcohol or use drugs.

The financial aspect of treatment is an important consideration, too. Until recently, people were quite limited in the forms of payment that were available with made-in-full, out-of-pocket payments being the standard. However, the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (ACA) and the resultant healthcare reforms made substance abuse treatment one of the essential health benefits offered by both private and government health insurance plans. This means that many of the detox and treatment facilities located all over the U.S. will accept the majority of patients’ health insurance plans, making recovery significantly more accessible to the people who need it.

If neither paying out-of-pocket nor health insurance coverage can work, there’s always the possibility of paying for a medical detox program by asking for the help of one’s family. Unfortunately, family members are often victimized by their addicted loved ones who lose their trust by lying or even stealing from them, so they may not be very willing to offer money. An alternative would be to find opportunities to apply for scholarships and grants, which are often available through individual states’ governments. Additionally, a number of treatment facilities offer their own scholarships for patients who need help paying for treatment or who qualify for some other reason. If you have credit cards that may be an option, but you’ll want to make sure that you’ll be able to maybe the payments and even if you can, you may not want to risk it.

There are lots of resources available for finding funding for addiction treatment

There are lots of resources available for finding funding for addiction treatment, and oftentimes the intake coordinators at a facility can point you in the right direction. However, there’s also the possibility of looking around at the offers available from financial lenders since there are many opportunities for loans today. You can take out a personal loan from your bank or financial institute, or if your credit is poor there are secured loans available that allow you to put up some form of collateral in order to secure the loan. The best route for a loan would be to find lenders that offer loans intended specifically to pay for substance abuse treatment. There are a number of these recovery-oriented lenders, and their loans often offer certain perks that you won’t get with most other loans, including generously low interest rates and the deferment of payments until a period of time after you’ve completed treatment. Similarly, it’s not uncommon for treatment facilities to offer their own in-house treatment financing.

HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT MEDICAL DETOX CENTER

The process of choosing the right medical detox program for your needs can be as difficult as choosing the residential treatment facility for your inpatient program. There are so many factors you need to think about because each program and detox center are so different from others, each offering a unique locale, services, and amenities. However, without a firm grasp of your specific needs and which detox program features can address them, there’s a good chance that the medical detox facility you choose isn’t actually going to prepare you for the next stages of recovery. Instead of setting you on a path of healing and health, the wrong medical detox program could make you fearful of and resistant to rehabilitation, inadvertently prolonging your suffering.

Instead, Detox Local can help you find the medical detox center that’s right for you. We have created a network that consists of only the best detox centers in the country, and we use our detox network to help anyone who’s been suffering from addiction to break the physical hold that alcohol or drugs have on their body. After a period of comprehensive medical care in an intimate setting with a staff that’s personally invested in your comfort and health, you’ll be prepared to thrive in your inpatient addiction treatment program. Call us toll-free at 1-866-315-7061 so that Detox Local can ensure your success in this crucial first step of recovery and beyond.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOUR STAY AT A MEDICAL DETOX CENTER?

Once you’ve completed your inpatient medical detox program, you’ll no longer be physically dependent on alcohol or drugs with your body cleansed, healthy, and ready for the next part of the recovery process. In many cases, this means transitioning into an inpatient or residential addiction treatment program at your chosen alcohol or drug rehab. This inpatient treatment program does for your mind what your medical detox program did for your body, freeing you of the chains that substance abuse has had on your physiology.

Throughout your addiction treatment program, you’ll receive individual counseling, participate in several forms of psychoeducational and interpersonal process group therapies, develop an arsenal of relapse-prevention strategies, and mitigate any thoughts, emotions, environmental factors, or prior experiences that contributed to your development of an addiction. While the completion of a medical detox program makes your body health and helps you to achieve sobriety, your inpatient addiction treatment program helps you remain sober by learning how to be abstinent. Upon completion of your inpatient treatment program, you can choose to transitional into a form of outpatient care, move into a sober living facility for a period of time, or—if you’re confident in your newfound sobriety—return home to begin reestablishing your new life as a sober, healthy, productive member of your community.