Drug detox is a type of rehab that focuses on removing drugs from a client's body. The goal is to restore the body's chemical balance, improve overall health, and prepare the client for addiction treatment.
Generally, detox happens in a center under the supervision of rehab specialists who manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapses, and cater to the client's needs during detox. These specialists also have the expertise to handle medical emergencies that may arise.
Despite the benefits of drug detox, it is not a complete rehab program. People who complete detox will need further addiction treatment to treat the underlying causes of addiction and any occurring condition.
The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has regulatory oversight over facilities and professionals providing addiction treatment in Georgia. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a similar responsibility at the national level, especially in preparing guidelines and running initiatives to foster safe addiction treatment. Both agencies also run government-funded rehab programs and initiatives to ensure that vulnerable people in Georgia communities get safe and affordable addiction treatment.
Per a 2019 survey by SAMHSA, people in recovery spend an average of six days in drug detox programs in Georgia. For many people, however, this timeline may be longer or shorter depending on several factors:
Clients who have been using drugs and struggling with addiction for longer will typically spend more time in detox. An important factor here is the nature of the drugs they use and how long. Dependence on drugs like benzodiazepines takes a couple of weeks, but the time is much shorter for synthetic opioids, cocaine, and crack.
Most people begin using drugs at low doses. Soon enough, they must increase the quantity to experience the desired effect. The implication is that their bodies build a tolerance to the drugs. And over a long history of use, the drug and its byproducts would have accumulated in the body. Consequently, detox for people with a long history of using a high quantity of drugs is typically longer than for people who have only used low doses for a short time.
Drugs induce their effects in different ways. While some are fast-acting, others take time to act. In the same sense, the nature of a drug will also determine how fast the body removes it from the body.
Cocaine is an example. The drug's psychoactive effects typically last for about an hour, but detox takes an average of four days. On the other hand, the psychoactive effects of LSD (also known as acid) can last for up to 5 hours, and the body removes it within 12 hours.
Thus, the time a client will need to detox will depend on the drugs they use.
People struggling with addiction use multiple drugs to increase the potency of a drug. Besides being dangerous, this practice can worsen addiction and impairs the body's ability to remove drugs effectively. As such, drug detox programs for people battling an addiction to multiple drugs will be longer than for persons addicted to one substance.
Co-occurring conditions are physical or mental conditions that happen with addiction, such as chronic pain or depression.
Detox for people with co-occurring conditions must also involve treating or managing these conditions to ensure a safe detox. Otherwise, clients may relapse, drop out of the program, or have a medical emergency. As such, drug detox for people with co-occurring conditions typically takes longer.
Alcohol detox time varies with several factors. According to the SAMHSA survey, age is a significant factor in determining how long alcohol detox takes. On average, younger clients complete alcohol detox in 14 days, while older clients typically complete the rehab program in about five days.
Next to age is legal gender. Generally, biological males complete drug detox in less time than biological females. Meanwhile, a client's physical health will also determine how long alcohol detox takes, with fitter clients completing drug detox faster than less fit patients.
Other factors that affect how long alcohol detox takes include co-occurring conditions, drinking habits, and addiction history.
Per SAMHSA's recommendation, most drug detox programs in Georgia follow a three-stage process:
Here, rehab specialists encourage clients to share information about their addiction history, habits, and medical history. Blood, urine, and hair sample tests help rehab specialists get information the patient cannot provide. For example, a blood test can show the drugs in the patient's system, and a hair sample test can help measure the progress of detox.
Stabilization is the main stage of detox. Here, rehab specialists focus on making clients comfortable and safe. Generally, specialists explain the detox process to the patient and tell them what they can expect to experience during withdrawal. Depending on their needs, clients in this stage may also get medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
In this stage, rehab specialists help clients understand the limits of detox and explain how post-detox programs can help them maintain sobriety and improve their overall health. Clients may also get referrals or recommendations best fit for their recovery needs.
Most drugs have a pattern of withdrawal symptoms unique to them. Here are the common side effects associated with detox from various drugs:
The typical side effects clients in alcohol detox experience include agitation, nausea, vomiting, and hallucinations. Clients may also sweat, have trouble sleeping, and lose their appetite.
Common side effects known in marijuana detox include mood swings, depression, appetite loss, and insomnia. Furthermore, clients may have headaches, trouble sleeping, and difficulty focusing.
Generally, clients detoxing from amphetamines experience side effects like dry mouth, dizziness, anxiety, and depression. Insomnia, paranoia, and loss of appetite are other common side effects.
The side effects of cocaine detox are mostly psychological. Most people become aggressive, cranky, and may hallucinate. Anxiety, intense craving, and depression are common side effects of cocaine detox.
Insomnia, irritability, and anxiety are common side effects of benzodiazepine detox. Clients in detox may also have panic attacks, hand tremors, and difficulty concentrating. Clients with moderate to severe addiction may also experience pain and stiffness in their muscles and joints during benzodiazepine detox.
The side effects of opioid detox are usually intense, including sweating, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, cramps, tremors, and diarrhea. At the peak of detox, clients hallucinate and may have seizures.
Rehab specialists do not recommend home detox because it is unsafe, especially as withdrawal symptoms can result in a medical emergency. There is also a high chance of relapsing for people detoxing at home because the house is not always a drug-free environment. And as withdrawal symptoms become intense, people detoxing at home may seek out hidden stashes of drugs or find money to buy drugs to relieve their symptoms. Moreover, there is a high chance of meeting friends or acquaintances who use or sell drugs.
Cost is the main reason many people recovering from addiction choose to detox at home. Indeed, the option is cheaper than staying in a detox center, where they have to pay for treatment services, food, and accommodation. However, the savings are not worth the decreased quality of life that a medical emergency can cause.
Another reason people detox at home is to handle work, school, or family commitments at the same time. In reality, withdrawal symptoms can impair a person's ability to perform work or family responsibilities effectively. It is better to take time off work or make arrangements for life commitments to get the best out of detox.
Rapid detox is a treatment designed to shorten the time needed to remove drugs from the body while helping clients avoid withdrawal symptoms.
The procedure involves sedating clients and then administering drugs. Sedation renders the client unconscious, so they don't experience withdrawal symptoms. Meanwhile, the drug administered in rapid detox quickly removes the substances from the body. Common medications used in rapid detox include Clonidine, Naltrexone, and Flumazenil. Generally, rapid detox treatments take five to seven hours.
The possibility of avoiding uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms or staying in a detox center for a long time makes rapid detox appealing compared to medical detox. However, the side effects of rapid detox outweigh the benefits.
For one, the procedure removes drugs from the body, causing the client to lose tolerance too quickly. This loss increases the client's risk of having a medical emergency in case of a relapse. Furthermore, clients who have rapid detox still experience more intense withdrawal symptoms that can become unbearable over time and lead to a relapse. Studies have also shown that rapid detox has adverse side effects on the body, with many clients developing health problems after the procedure.
Besides the dangers of rapid detox, the procedure is expensive. Studies show that a session of rapid detox costs the equivalent of several months of high-quality outpatient rehab in Georgia. What's more, insurance companies do not typically cover this procedure. Thus, clients who do rapid detox must pay out-of-pocket.
Drug detox helps restore the brain's chemical balance and improves physical health. However, it is not a complete addiction treatment program on its own. Generally, people who complete detox programs continue addiction treatment in a program that best meets their recovery needs. These include:
This type of rehab program provides further treatment in a hospital or clinic. The rehab specialists at inpatient rehab treat addiction and have the means and expertise to treat co-occurring physical and mental conditions. This program is better suited for people with moderate to severe drug addiction or those who need a high level of support for a short time after rehab.
Clients in this rehab program get addiction treatment in a more comfortable, homely setting rather than a hospital. Rehab specialists provide a high level of support for people recovering from addiction and co-occurring mental conditions.
The features of this program make it suitable for persons who need a high level of support for an extended time. According to the SAMHSA survey, people in Georgia residential rehab programs stay for an average of 135 days.
The structure of outpatient rehab makes it suitable for clients who need comprehensive addiction treatment with minimal disruption to their daily lives. Unlike inpatient and residential rehabs, clients in outpatient rehab get addiction treatment and return home after each session.
Thus, this program is better suited for clients with mild to moderate addiction. It is also possible to get intensive addiction treatment in outpatient rehab. Besides the flexibility, outpatient rehab in Georgia is also several times cheaper.
Sober living homes are a type of informal rehab program designed for people who need a drug-free environment to transition from rehab to everyday life.
Sober homes in Georgia do not directly provide addiction treatment. Instead, residents receive peer support while getting expert care in an outpatient rehab program. As such, the structure of sober living homes makes them better suited for people who need a solid support system to maintain sobriety after detox or while going to rehab.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, treatment is available near you in Georgia. You can call the SAMHSA helpline at (800) 662-4357 to get help finding a detox center near you in Georgia. The helpline is open at all times of the day, seven days a week, all year long.
Another way to find detox centers in Georgia is with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SAMHSA treatment center locator. The locator will display the facility's location and contact information. You will also find a list of addiction treatment services available at the center and accepted payment options.