“Detox what is it?”
“Detox” is short for “Detoxification”. This is a process of removing toxins from your body caused by drug or alcohol dependency, bringing your body back to its natural state. A detox is usually carried out as part of an ongoing treatment plan for physical addiction, and usually includes the use of medication.
Does all drug use require a detox?
By and large, detoxification is only used in cases of physical dependency caused through the use of substances like alcohol, opiates (heroin for example), benzodiazepines (valium for example) and GHB.
How will I know if I need a detox?
The worker doing your assessment will know if the substance(s) you are using might make it necessary to undertake a detox, and will refer you to a doctor who will be able to decide if a detox is necessary.
What is it like?
To be honest it can be uncomfortable, but various medications can be prescribed to make it as easy as possible.
How long does it last?
That depends on the substance you are using, how long you have been using, how much you use, and to some extent your physical health. In general, a week or two is normal though.
Will I have to go to hospital?
Not always. Detoxification can take place in a hospital or at home.
Do I get a choice as to which one I do?
You certainly get an input into the final decision, but there are a lot of factors to take into account. For a home detox (where the medication is prescribed and you take it at home) there are certain criteria that need to be met.
Can you explain?
To begin with, having a stable place to live is vital. If you are homeless, living in a hostel or sofa surfing, then an in-patient detox is the way to go. After all, you are liable to be feeling a little poorly and being warm, having something to eat, and being able to relax and sleep is important.
Is that all?
Well, you also need to be able to stick to the prescribed medication and not use alcohol or other drugs as well. Some people find this difficult to do, and to be realistic, if you can’t stick to the prescribed medication then the chances of a ‘home detox’ working are very small.
Is anything else required to do a detox at home?
It is important that you have friends or family to pop in and keep an eye on you, especially for the first few days when things can be a bit difficult. You also need to be in reasonable physical health, so that there are no unexpected complications.
So what would make it necessary to do a hospital detox?
Apart from the things mentioned above, if your substance use has caused you blackouts or seizures you will need to go to hospital. If you are addicted to, or heavily using more than one substance, then an in-patient detox is also likely to be your best course of action.
What happens next?
Remember, detox is the first part of the process toward rebuilding your life. By and large there tend to be two courses of action that people take afterwards.
What are they?
Well the first is to go into rehab for a few months. There is an entire separate page on this section of the website discussing rehab. Far fewer people do this than you might imagine.
Or you might go to a day programme which is very much like a rehab but where you go home at night. There is a page on the website about this too.
What is the other option?
Well having taken the huge step of detoxing yourself, remaining abstinent becomes a priority. Regular appointments with your key worker; attending mutual aid groups and peer run services, and generally looking at moving forward with your life with the support of treatment services and your peers is the most common option.
How will I know what to do next?
Before undertaking your detox your keyworker and/or care manager will have spent some time working with you to decide upon the best course of action for your next steps. There is nothing to worry about because you will have worked it all out beforehand!