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Detox is short for the word detoxification, a process by which the body rids itself or is aided in ridding itself of substances which it considers to be toxic or poisonous. Detox is generally used to describe the withdrawal phase that a person who has abused alcohol or drugs must go through. Most facilities that treat substance addiction require that a person undergo detox first, if it is necessary, before beginning any type of treatment program.
When the body is undergoing detox, the organs and digestive system are all doing their part to get rid of the drugs or alcohol. Because the body must literally work at peak capacity in order to do this, it is not uncommon for a person in the detox stage (sometimes referred to as the withdrawal stage) to sweat profusely, become extremely nauseous and vomit violently and frequently, and suffer diarrhea. Severe muscular and joint pain are not uncommon, especially if there are prolonged bouts of shivering.
While all this is going on, the brain itself is screaming for the very thing that caused the problem in the first place. So, not only is the patient suffering physically, but there are psychological effects also. Detox can be done in several ways, but in all of them, the patient will suffer all or most of the symptoms described above. He can, however, choose different methods of detox.
One way is commonly known as "cold turkey." This means that the patient literally screams, sweats, shakes, and otherwise suffers through the nausea, vomiting, and severe pain that comes with the withdrawal of the substance that was being abused, and the body's cleansing itself of any remaining substance. When a person chooses this method, no medical help is given; the patient is literally left alone to suffer until this stage passes. However, this is not necessary, as a person can choose to undergo detox with and under medical supervision.
One method of detox with medical supervision requires the patient to go through the detox stage, but palliative care, such as cool rags, non-narcotic anti-nausea and anti-pain medication, and of course, moral support, are offered. These alone can make the detox stage slightly more bearable.
Another method of undergoing detox is under strict hospital care in an Intensive Care Unit, while the patient is in a medically-induced state of unconsciousness. This method can be very dangerous, however, even with close monitoring, and is only used in very severe cases or where a patient's life may actually be danger if he was allowed to undergo detox in another way.
The patient who is serious about addiction recovery, however, will recognize that he will have to undergo detox before anything can be accomplished. However, we have facilities that can offer help during this very difficult time. A phone call to our 24-hour detox hotline will allow us to provide you with information on detox facilities.