Drug rehab clinics across the United States help thousands of addicts achieve lasting sobriety every year. With the realization that addiction is a neurological disease, drug rehab specialists have been able to develop a variety of effective and proven therapies for substance abusers. Addiction is not curable, but addicts and doctors can work together to create long-term strategies for staying clean.
Although most rehab clinics create personalized treatment plans for their patients, almost every recovering addict must undergo the rigors of detoxification. Typically lasting five to fourteen days, detox is a process designed to wean addicts off of their physical drug dependencies. This is a painful but necessary step in preparing rehab patients for their clinical therapies.
When people with severe drug dependencies first seek help, they are typically analyzed by doctors at special medical facilities. These treatment centers are often different from the actual rehab clinics where inpatients live and receive addiction therapies. The main purpose of these initial assessments is to determine the amounts of toxic substances within patients' bodies. Doctors can then decide how long detox will take and what medications may be necessary.
The next step in detox is simple but painful - deprivation. Though addicts may arrive at detox clinics having used drugs just hours earlier, they are denied their addictive substances long enough for their bodies to adjust. Addiction causes the human body to rely on drugs for normal functioning, so the brain must adapt to living without them. This process usually takes one to two weeks.
Virtually all addicts experience withdrawal during detox. Because their bodies are still dependent on drugs, unfulfilled cravings cause painful symptoms. Patients often report depression, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness. They also experience physical symptoms such as sweating, irregular heart beats, and nausea. Rehab specialists have developed several mental and emotional techniques for coping with these symptoms, but medication is sometimes required.
In some cases of addiction, withdrawal symptoms can actually be life-threatening. This is especially true for people addicted to heroin, morphine, and other opiates - some of the most powerful and addicting substances in the world. Withdrawal symptoms for these drugs often include seizure, heart palpitations, and even cardiac arrest.
To mitigate the risks of these symptoms, many doctors have begun using rapid detox methods on heroin addicts. Instead of waiting for up to two weeks of these dangerous symptoms to pass, they induce days' worth of detox in just hours using specialized medications. This process can still be dangerous, but it has proven very effective at quickly getting through detox and into their longer-term treatment programs.
Contrary to what many laypeople believe, detox does not cure addiction - nothing does. However, a successful detox allows addicts the freedom to manage their drug cravings enough to productively engage their treatments. Drug rehab programs typically involve counseling sessions which are mentally tough and emotionally intense. Patients must be rid of their immediate compulsions to use drugs in order to take full advantage of these therapies.