Medical detoxification, or drug detox for short, is a type of rehab that focuses on removing drugs from a patient's body to foster sobriety, restore health, and prepare the body for addiction treatment.
The most successful drug detox programs happen in a specialized facility under the supervision of a rehab specialist. Supervision and expert care are important in detox because withdrawal symptoms can become intense and result in a medical emergency.
Indeed detox is an important part of drug rehab, but it is not a complete program on its own. The program only heals clients on the physical front. There is still the need to treat underlying behavioral causes of addiction and any occurring condition in rehab.
The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) licenses and regulates rehab specialists and centers providing medical detox services in Arkansas. This agency also runs government-funded rehab programs to ensure the most vulnerable people in communities get safe and affordable addiction treatment.
Meanwhile, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) plays a similar role at the national level. SAMHSA generally sets the standards of addiction treatment and creates guidelines that the DHS and addiction treatment providers follow to deliver safe addiction treatment.
Per a 2019 survey by SAMHSA, people in recovery spend an average of three days in detox programs in Arkansas.
Note, however, that this timeline is average. The time a person needs to stay in detox may be longer or shorter depending on several factors influencing their circumstances.
Common factors that influence the time a person will need to stay in a detox program in Arkansas include:
This factor refers to how long the person has been using drugs and struggling with addiction. Drugs like benzodiazepines take a couple of weeks before the user becomes dependent, but the time is much shorter for synthetic opioids, cocaine, and crack.
That said, persons with a long history of drug use and addiction need to stay in a detox program because the drug would have accumulated in their bodies. Also, withdrawal symptoms for these people are more intense and require expert care to ensure a safe and successful detox.
Many drugs are potent at low doses, while others require a high dosage before the user can experience the desired effect. Also, it is common for the body to build tolerance over time, so a person needs higher and higher doses of the same drug to experience an effect.
However, this also means that the drug and its byproducts will continue accumulating in the body. Combined with a long addiction history, this can mean drugs have accumulated in the body to high levels that require a longer detox.
Feeling better is not a reason to end detox. Rehab specialists will need to also test for the levels of drugs in the patient's body to determine whether they are ready to safely move to the next rehab phase.
Besides potency (how effective a drug is at a certain low dose), drugs also differ in how they induce their effects and how long those effects last.
For instance, cocaine is only generally effective for about an hour; the effects of psilocybin (LSD or acid) can last for up to 5 hours, but a short 30 minutes for heroin. However, while the body can remove traces of LSD within 12 hours, the process takes up to four days for cocaine and a week or more for heroin.
As such, the time it will take to complete detox depends on the type of drugs used. A short detox program is more likely to be unsuccessful and increase the chances of relapse in a patient.
Now, unrelated drugs can often affect how other drugs work when taken together or used within a short time. The goal is usually to increase the potency of a drug at a low dose and how long it lasts.
Generally, people struggling with addiction do this to save money or get the most out of drugs. However, this practice can worsen addiction and cause a high amount of the drug to build up in the body.
As such, drug detox programs for people who use multiple drugs will typically take longer than for persons in the habit of using one substance.
Detox for people with co-occurring physical or mental conditions requires special care to prevent worsening those conditions. After all, the withdrawal symptoms from detoxing alone take a toll on people without occurring conditions.
As a result, rehab specialists create medical detox programs that manage co-occurring conditions safely. Otherwise, the risk of relapse increases, especially if the co-occurring condition caused the addiction in the first place.
Common examples include addiction in persons abusing Oxycodone for pain management or Xanax for anxiety issues. Detoxing doesn't mean that the pain or anxiety will go away. So, rehab specialists must create a detox plan that manages these conditions and recommend post-detox that can treat the conditions as well.
Alcohol is an addictive substance that creates dependence like every other drug. Moreover, it is more accessible than scheduled drugs and socially acceptable. This means a person may be unaware of their alcohol problem for a long time.
Like drug detox, alcohol detox time also varies with several, albeit similar, factors. According to the SAMHSA report, age is a key indicator of how long the program takes. On average, patients younger than 18 take up to 14 days to complete alcohol detox. On the other hand, patients 18 years and older typically complete alcohol detox programs in about five days.
Besides age, legal gender is another factor that influences detox time — biological males typically complete detox in less time than biological females. Age and biological sex aside, a patient's physical health state will also determine how long alcohol detox takes. All other factors being equal, healthier patients complete detox comparatively faster than less healthy patients.
Meanwhile, co-occurring conditions, drinking habits, using alcohol with other drugs, and addiction history can also determine how long detox takes.
Drug detox follows best practices to ensure the patient's comfort and safety. And most importantly, the program must prepare the patient for the next phases of addiction treatment and recovery.
Per SAMHSA's recommendation, most Arkansas drug detox programs follow a three-stage process:
Evaluation is the assessment stage of drug detox. Here, rehab specialists encourage patients to share information about their drug use, habits, and medical history. At the same time, rehab specialists take samples (blood, urine, and hair) to get more information that the patient cannot provide. A sample test can show the drugs in the patient's body, and their levels and, thus, help rehab specialists create a personalized detox plan.
Stabilization is the main stage of detox. The process mainly revolves around making clients comfortable and safe as their body removes drugs. This stage starts with a rehab specialist explaining the detox process to the patient and highlighting what they can expect to experience during withdrawal.
Generally, stabilization uses medicated and non-medicated approaches, depending on the patient's needs.
So, patients with moderate to severe addiction will need medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to safely detox. On the other hand, patients with mild addiction do not require MAT but may need other holistic ways to manage withdrawal and keep them safe.
This stage often signifies the end of drug detox. Here, the rehab specialist helps the patient understand a post-detox program can help them build on the success of rehab.
Most drugs have a pattern of withdrawal symptoms unique to them. Here are the common side effects associated with detox from various drugs:
Persons in alcohol detox typically experience agitation, nausea, vomiting, agitation, and hallucinations. Sweating and trouble sleeping are also common side effects.
Persons detoxing from marijuana typically experience mood swings and depression, lose their appetite, and have trouble focusing. They may also sweat, have headaches, and have trouble sleeping.
Detox from amphetamines typically includes side effects like dry mouth, dizziness, anxiety, and depression. It is also common for people in recovery to have trouble sleeping, sweat a lot, and become paranoid.
The side effects that come with cocaine detox are mostly psychological. Generally, patients feel aggressive and hostile and may experience unreal events and confusing feelings. Anxiety, intense craving, and depression are common side effects people experience during cocaine detox.
The known side effects of benzo detox include insomnia, irritability, increased tension, and anxiety. Patients may also experience panic attacks, hand tremors, and difficulty concentrating. At the peak of benzo detox, patients sweat, feel nauseous, and dry heave. Many lose weight or experience pain and stiffness in their muscles and joints.
Sweating, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, cramps, tremors, and diarrhea are common side effects of opioid detox. At the peak of detox, patients start breathing fast, hallucinate, and may have seizures.
Yes. However, home detox is dangerous as people detoxing at home do not have the expert help they need to manage withdrawal symptoms. And without professional support, people detoxing at home may have medical emergencies or relapses.
Furthermore, the house is not a drug-free environment. At the height of withdrawal symptoms, people detoxing at home seek out hidden stashes or money to buy drugs. Friends and acquaintances with a drug habit may also come over and encourage a relapse.
Home detox is not always the first option for most people who want to recover from addiction. Cost is the main reason people feel compelled to take the cheaper, albeit risky option.
Medically-supervised detox means the patient must stay in a facility for up to two weeks. This means taking time off work and pausing commitments. For many people, this is not a convenient option.
Nevertheless, home detox can be dangerous. And in the end, the benefits of a medically-supervised detox outweigh the cost or temporary absence from life commitments.
Rapid detox is an aggressive treatment designed to speed up detox. The goal is to complete detox within hours instead of days while avoiding the discomfort and withdrawal symptoms common in traditional medical detox.
First, the rapid detox service provider checks the client's physical health. If the patient is healthy enough, the health professional sedates the patient. The goal of sedation is to minimize the experience of withdrawal symptoms.
Next, the health professional administers medication that binds to the drugs in the patient's body and removes them until the client's system is completely drug-free. Common medication used in rapid detox includes Clonidine, Naltrexone, and Flumazenil. The procedure typically takes five to seven hours.
Finally, the health professional monitors the patient until they are ready to leave. Although rapid detox offers the benefit of avoiding withdrawal symptoms, the procedure is experimental at best.
Convenience and speed are the most attractive qualities of rapid detox. The procedure helps patients avoid uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and avoid staying in a detox center for the time it needs to complete traditional medical detox.
This quality appeals to clients who cannot afford to leave commitments like work, school, or family for too long. However, the side effects of rapid detox outweigh the benefits.
Despite the appeals of rapid detox, the procedure is reportedly dangerous, highly experimental, and prohibitively expensive.
Addiction is both physical and psychological. While rapid detox removes drugs from the body, it is ineffective against psychological withdrawal symptoms. As such, persons who complete rapid detox still need further addiction treatment to maintain sobriety.
Furthermore, rapid detox reportedly causes clients to lose drug tolerance too quickly. And without the necessary skills to maintain sobriety, a relapse could lead to a medical emergency.
Besides the physical and mental dangers of rapid detox, the procedure is expensive. A session could cost enough to cover several months of high-quality outpatient rehab in Arkansas. Moreover, insurance companies do not typically cover rapid detox, meaning patients must pay out-of-pocket.
Despite the benefits of drug detox, it is not complete addiction treatment. Rehab specialists recommend that patients who complete detox commit to a formal rehab program or join a recovery community. Available options include:
Inpatient rehab programs let people in recovery get addiction treatment in a hospital or clinical setting. The equipment and professionals at these programs can treat addiction and co-occurring physical and mental conditions.
Residential rehab programs provide addiction treatment in a more comfortable, homely setting. These programs provide a high level of support for people who need help for co-occurring mental conditions after detox. The 2019 SAMHSA report shows that Arkansas residential rehab programs last an average of 95 days.
Outpatient rehab programs are designed for people who need comprehensive treatment but want the flexibility to handle life commitments. The program is also several times cheaper, albeit longer. The 2019 SAMHSA report shows that Arkansas residential rehab programs last for an average of 141 days.
Sober living homes provide informal support and a drug-free environment for persons in recovery to transition from rehab to their normal lives. This option is great for people with no strong support system to maintain sobriety after detox or during rehab.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, help is available at detox centers in Arkansas. To locate a detox center near you, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at (800) 662-4357. Your conversation with a SAMHSA representative is private, and the line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
SAMHSA's treatment center locator is also a useful tool to locate a detox center or rehab programs that independent specialists have assessed. The locator displays the location of the facility as well as contact information. You'll also find a list of various therapies, amenities, and payment methods.