What is Addiction?
Table of Contents
- What is Addiction?
- Understanding Alcohol and Drug Addiction
- The Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment
- What are Medically-Supervised Drug Detox Programs?
- What is Substance Withdrawal?
- The Dangers of Substance Withdrawal
- Inpatient Detox Addiction Treatment Programs
- Who Should Seek Inpatient Detox Treatment?
- Can I Detox Through an Outpatient Facility?
- Outpatient Medical Detoxification
- Who Should Detox Through an Outpatient Program?
- How Long is the Detox Process?
- How to Recognize a Good Drug or Alcohol Rehab Center
- An At-Home Versus Medically Supervised Detox
- What is the Difference Between Detox and Rehab?
- Detoxification and Addiction
- Finding Addiction Detox Facilities and Other Substance Abuse Treatment Services Near You
- Medically Reviewed By
Addiction is currently classified as a neurophysiological disease, characterized by a constant and intense urge to use addictive substances. This disorder often requires professional treatment in order to be able to overcome and properly manage, as detox often comes with uncomfortable symptoms and the urge to continue drinking or using.
This is because long-term use of drugs or alcohol brings a psychological and physical dependency upon these substances. Once dependence forms, it can be extremely hard to stop using an abused substance without professional support.
Understanding Alcohol and Drug Addiction
It is important to understand that anyone can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, regardless of their background. With that being said, there are various factors that can increase someone’s likelihood of forming a substance addiction. These may include:
- Having a personal and/or family history of substance abuse.
- Having an unstable or negative home, school, and/or work environment.
- Having negative social relationships or influences.
With the above-mentioned risk factors, perhaps one of the biggest influences in the development of an addiction is if the affected individual has any underlying mental health conditions, particularly those which have gone undiagnosed or untreated.
Understanding the Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Mental Health
For many individuals who are struggling with mental illness, it is not uncommon for them to turn to drugs or alcohol when attempting to self-medicate the negative thoughts and emotions these may cause. If you are not sure whether alcohol has become a problem for you, take our alcoholic quiz to find answers!
Unfortunately, this will only provide temporary relief from these painful feelings and, over time, will only end up making these issues worse. In some cases, a person may end up developing new mental disorders and issues as a result of their substance abuse.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), effective treatment for drug and alcohol addiction should involve behavioral therapies in order to properly address the underlying causes of substance use. This is referred to as dual diagnosis treatment, and is a necessary component for treating those with co-occurring disorders.
The Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment
When it comes to addiction treatment, there are various levels of care and support services a person may choose to participate in when overcoming their substance use disorders. Of course, everyone experiences addiction differently.
This is why proper addiction recovery will require an individualized treatment plan. Many individuals may choose to follow a full “Continuum of Care” (CoC) process, which entails receiving treatment from various, consecutive levels of addiction treatment.
Once a person’s first level of care has been successfully completed, they can typically move on to lower levels of treatment. While there are various addiction treatment services that an individual may choose to seek out, some of the primary programs include:
- Medical Detox
- Residential Treatment
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- Outpatient Treatment
- Aftercare Programs
Although every person’s addiction treatment experience will vary based on their personal care needs, in most cases, the rehabilitation process will start with their participation in a medically-supervised detox program.
What are Medically-Supervised Drug Detox Programs?
Medical detoxification is a process that helps an addicted person to separate from the substance in a medically supervised and safe environment. Drug detox is the natural process of ridding a substance from the body.
However, a professional drug detox program, also sometimes referred to as “medically managed withdrawal,” entails the use of a set of interventions (such as medications and other therapies) to safely manage the side effects that accompany quitting drugs, while receiving constant support from a licensed clinical staff.
Reactions to substances are different, but many drugs and alcohol produce withdrawal symptoms that are extremely painful, especially when the patient quits “cold turkey,” or all at once. Medical detoxification provides a safe environment to go through these withdrawal symptoms.
Typically, detox will give a recovering individual the opportunity to receive several recovery support services while undergoing this process. This may include medication-assisted treatment to help relieve some of the symptoms and drug cravings associated with the period. Addiction medicine can also make this ordeal safer and easier than trying detoxification on your own.
What is Substance Withdrawal?
Substance withdrawal is the body’s physiological response to a person’s sudden quitting or drastic reduction of their use of an addictive substance, particularly when they have formed a dependence on it.
There are multiple forms of substance withdrawal, which can involve various different combinations of physical, mental, and emotional side effects – many of these, of which, can become dangerous and even life-threatening if not properly managed.
The Dangers of Substance Withdrawal
If you have used drugs or alcohol for a long period of time, your body will become dependent on the substances to survive. This means that when the substance is removed or decreased in the system, physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms may occur. There are many different symptoms that you may experience during your body’s detoxification, including:
- Irregular heartbeat
In more extreme cases, seizures, coma, and even death can all occur if the body is not properly detoxed from an addictive substance. Although going through medically supervised and assisted detoxification may not help you to avoid all of these symptoms, it can ease many of them, and allow you to feel more comfortable during this period.
Inpatient Detox Addiction Treatment Programs
Inpatient detox and drug rehab centers, as well as residential treatment options, offer recovering individuals a far more intensive, structured, and safe environment than other treatment programs may be able to. These help individuals overcome their substance use disorder while receiving constant supervision and regular access to recovery tools and resources.
When seeking inpatient drug treatment, individuals will likely participate in various addiction recovery and mental health services, including medication-assisted treatment, therapy, life skills building programs, and holistic treatments, just to name a few.
Who Should Seek Inpatient Detox Treatment?
Medical detox treatment programs, particularly through an inpatient rehab center, are strongly recommended for those struggling with more severe alcohol or drug abuse. This is because both the physical and mental withdrawal symptoms that tend to develop when recovering from more intense addictions can be severe.
If you or a loved one is struggling with heavy alcohol or drug abuse, and have previously been unsuccessful in trying to get sober without professional support, it can be extremely beneficial to seek out inpatient treatment centers.
Can I Detox Through an Outpatient Facility?
While inpatient treatment centers are more commonly associated with medical detox, there are facilities that allow people to receive treatment during the day, while returning to the comfort of their own homes at night. In many cases, outpatient programs may be preferable or more accessible than inpatient options.
After all, these will not only be more affordable, as the recovering individual does not have to pay for 24/7 care, but they also allow them to continue working and attending to their personal or family obligations while still receiving necessary recovery support.
Outpatient Medical Detoxification
When receiving outpatient treatment, your treatment providers will come up with an individualized care plan that addresses all of your recovery needs. This will give you your best chance at achieving long-term sobriety and abstinence.
These treatment centers will help individuals overcome their drug use primarily through participation in recovery support groups, as well as various therapy, counseling, and holistic treatment services. This may also involve the administration of addiction medicine, in order to provide a whole-health approach to addiction treatment.
Who Should Detox Through an Outpatient Program?
Outpatient detoxification is recommended only for those with a mild to moderate addiction, and only when inpatient facilities are not possible. Most people who choose an outpatient approach do so because it is more convenient, and they cannot stray from their daily responsibilities.
Although outpatient care for detoxing alcohol or drug addictions has been shown to be safe and effective for selected patients, receiving care at an inpatient treatment center is more successful and recommended when possible.
How Long is the Detox Process?
The duration a patient stays in detox varies according to the degree of addiction and the substance of abuse. Certain substances, including benzodiazepines (prescription anti-anxiety drugs) and alcohol, can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures.
By going to a medical treatment facility you can avoid these painful symptoms, and also help to prevent fatal overdose. Other substances might lead to symptoms that are quite uncomfortable, but not fatal.
Regardless, each substance requires a different length of detoxification. This may range anywhere from five to 10 days (or more) while withdrawal symptoms can last up to two weeks (or more). This will vary depending on the person undergoing the treatment.
How to Recognize a Good Drug or Alcohol Rehab Center
There are many signs that can indicate a high-quality treatment center when you or a loved one are looking for drug rehab centers that will best fit your care needs. These may include various essential components to effective addiction treatment, such as:
- Certifications and Accreditations. Having a seal of approval from a trusted organization, such as The Joint Commission, will be the first and most reliable indicator that a treatment center is a top-notch healthcare institution, capable of providing high-quality care and results. LegitScript approval forms another accreditation for top facilities.
- Individualized Care Plans. When it comes to addiction, no two people will struggle with this condition the same. As such, every person seeking treatment will need a different approach to their care and recovery from substance abuse. This is why many top detox facilities will prioritize individualized treatment for all of their clients.
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment Options. In order to achieve long-term recovery, most individuals will need to treat more than just their substance abuse. To maintain their sobriety, they will also need to address any co-occurring mental health conditions that may be causing their addictive habits. Top recovery centers will offer dual diagnosis treatment services, such as individual, family, or behavioral therapy, as well as other mental health services.
- Low Staff to Client Ratios. High-quality treatment centers will usually have a 1 to 5 or 7 client-to-staff ratio. This means that there will be 1 staff member available for every 5 to 7 clients. Keeping these ratios low allows a recovery center to provide each of its clients with the personalized care and attention necessary for their successful treatment.
- Aftercare Plans. For many people, their recovery journey does not end after leaving their detox facility. While these may be able to treat their surface-level addiction, aftercare is essential for their ability to maintain sobriety. This is why many of the top detox treatment centers offer some sort of extended care to their clients, such as transitional housing, outpatient services, or at the very least, a proactive discharge plan.
- Qualified Staff. The best detox and drug rehab centers will employ the most qualified and properly licensed medical and behavioral health professionals. This ensures that the clients will be able to work with a highly specialized and well-equipped treatment provider throughout the entirety of their recovery process.
An At-Home Versus Medically Supervised Detox
Obtaining detox assistance from a professional care facility not only makes the process far more comfortable but also a lot safer. It also makes it possible to initiate the next level in the Continuum of Care smoothly. The care you receive during this process is 24 hours per day, and some of the highest levels of treatment you can find.
Your medications will be administered by qualified medical professionals, and every need you have will be met. You should feel safe and comfortable during the entire process. Detox at home, on the other hand, is dangerous and should not be attempted. Doing so can be extremely detrimental to your health and recovery, and even life-threatening.
What is the Difference Between Detox and Rehab?
While the terms drug rehab and detox may often be used interchangeably, they are, in fact, two separate things. While these treatment options may offer various similar recovery services, there are key differences between a professional detox and an addiction rehab program.
For starters, medical detox treatment facilities prioritize the main goal of getting and keeping their clients medically stabilized during the initial – and often most difficult – stages of their addiction recovery process.
Meanwhile, addiction rehab centers focus more on long-term recovery, offering various substance abuse treatment programs, behavioral therapies, and other support services to help keep individuals on track with their recovery and maintain abstinence.
Drug and alcohol rehab centers may include inpatient and residential treatment centers, as well as outpatient programs. The type of drug treatment a person will depend on their specific form of addiction and personal care needs.
Detoxification and Addiction
Although medical detox does not specifically treat addiction, it does help you cleanse your body and get ready for a treatment program. Because detoxification can relieve acute symptoms associated with withdrawal, it makes it easier to get through the initial sobriety period, until it is easier to avoid giving in to cravings.
What is important to note is that any type of drug rehab alone does not address the root cause of addiction. You will not learn what you need to do in order to maintain your sobriety in a limited detox setting.
Instead, it sets the stage for you to further address your mental health problems and continue to receive treatment for your alcohol or drug use through additional levels of care. You will be able to reach your long-term goals by starting with medical detox at the beginning of your treatment.
Detox alone will likely not change or resolve your addictive behaviors. Rather, it is the efforts and practices that you implement following detoxification that truly determines your ability to get and stay sober.
Finding Addiction Detox Facilities and Other Substance Abuse Treatment Services Near You
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone, and help IS available. At Find Addiction Rehabs, we dedicate ourselves to helping you find detox services and addiction treatment providers that are committed to serving all of your personal care needs.
Contact us today to learn more about finding a detox program and other addiction recovery services that fit your needs. Our experienced team is ready and able to help you find the best programs across the country, no matter your history of substance use.
Deborah Tayloe is a freelance writer specializing in health and sciences. Deborah earned a B.S.Ed. in Secondary Education/English, accompanied by a Spanish minor. Her writing expertise allows her to craft engaging, impactful articles to help people be well.
In addition, she holds a fully accredited Certificate of Natural Medicine and is a certified Herbalist. Through her understanding of complementary medicine, Deborah helps medical professionals give people the information they need to embrace natural approaches to wellness.
When she’s not working, Deborah trains for 5K races and advocates for animal rights.