One of the hardest parts of the recovery process is going through withdrawal. For some people in withdrawal from drugs or alcohol, extra help and support are necessary. They may have other health conditions or could have been using for so long that their bodies need those substances to function. Medical detox is available in many rehab units to help people who need extra care and support.

Medical detox and rehab are places where people can turn to when they are struggling with addiction, or substance use disorder. Drug and alcohol detox can last about a week, and some people think that completing it will get them stable enough to go back to work. It’s true that people have busy lives, and may need to work to pay their bills, but it’s not always the best choice for recovery to complete a medical detox and then go right back to work.

Withdrawal from Addictive Substances

First, let’s take a look at what withdrawal is, and what makes it so difficult for many. Drugs and alcohol are psychotropic medications, which means they have an impact on the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. They change how the body functions for a period of time. The body is so incredible, however, that it will grow used to and adapt to having these substances in its system. This is called tolerance. The more a person uses, the more they can tolerate a drug and then the more they will need to take to get that same high.

When the body is tolerating drugs, that’s a sign that the person is addicted to, or becoming addicted to them. That’s also the point where a person will likely experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using drugs or alcohol. Withdrawal is the time when the nervous system and the body begin to re-adjust to living with substances again. The body is like a spring and can bounce back from this, but it takes time, and can be uncomfortable, or even dangerous for some.

Withdrawal symptoms that people can experience include:

  • Tension
  • Panic attacks
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty concentrating/remembering
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Disturbed sleep or insomnia
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Hypertension
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Clammy skin
  • Dizziness
  • Shakiness
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Dehydration
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts

The specific types of symptoms will depend on the type of drug used, what quantities, and how long the person has been using them. These will typically be the worst in the first three to four days, again depending on the drugs, and will taper off to minor complaints after a week.

Man in medical detox being evaluated by a medical professional

Medical detox

For most people, this is a very uncomfortable time, and they need support while they go through withdrawal. Having safety and stability while the body and mind react to the loss of substances is essential, and medical detox can be that place for you to go.

Medical detox is a specific type of detox unit that provides the most amount of safety and stability for a person going through withdrawal. The goal of detox is that they are to help a person manage their withdrawal symptoms, overcome them, and then become stable enough to go on to inpatient drug treatment. Drug or alcohol detox does not help a person treat their addiction, that is the role of inpatient treatment. Detox solely functions to help a person get through withdrawal without resorting to relapse to overcome the symptoms.

In medical detox, they provide services to people who need more support, who may have mental or physical health problems, or who have been using drugs or alcohol for so long that they are very addicted to them and detoxing is dangerous to their health. A medical detox treatment center is typically staffed with medical professionals, nurses, nurse practitioners, and doctors since people who need these services are more medically fragile.

At this type of detox, medical staff can assess accurately the level of care a person needs. They can also provide the level of medical intervention that other types of drug or alcohol detox units cannot offer. Here, they can provide medication that will help minimize or alleviate some of the worst symptoms a person experiences. These can be over the counter pain relievers for aches and pains, vitamins to help nourish the body or prescription medication for short-term relief from some of the worst symptoms.

They will also monitor the health and well-being of the clients they see. Emergencies do happen in detox, and afterward. Medical detox units will be able to assess and get the person to emergency departments when the need arises, providing that level of safety and security that other detoxes may not have.

Let us help you find a nearby medical detox that can help you. Call  Stepping Stone Center for Recovery at 866-957-4960 today.

Tired construction contractor's first day back at work after medical detox

Can I go back to work after detox?

Everyone who comes into alcohol or drug detox will have their own specific needs and desires when it comes to their substance use. Individual needs about going back to work after attending medical detox must be taken into account. Here are some things to think about when deciding whether leaving detox and going straight back to work is right for you, but always consult with your care providers and medical professionals before making this decision. Your health and wellness are the primary goals.

First, ask yourself if you are medically safe to go back to work. People in medical detox often have health complications or have been using for so long that they need medical supervision. This does not change once a person leaves detox; this just means that they are through the worst of it. Mental and physical health problems and damage which have been done to the body by substance use are still there. Is it safe for you to go back to work?

Is this the best thing for your recovery and addiction? Remember that detox is not treating the addiction or its underlying causes. Detox solely helps a person through withdrawal. Even if a person completes medical detox, they have not addressed why they started using, and have not been taught any skills to help overcome the addiction or the cravings. It is strongly urged that a person who goes through detox goes immediately to inpatient treatment. Leaving detox and skipping on treatment to go back to work prevents this, and may not be in your best interest with regards to the addiction.

Do you have a safe environment to go to if you go back to work after detox? This may be more complicated than it seems. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol often come from homes or neighborhoods where there is a lot of substance use. Is it safe to go back to that same environment without completing inpatient treatment? Medical detox can take care of a patient’s help, but they do not help with finding a person appropriate aftercare or housing like rehab can. Is this safe for you to go back home now?

One other thing to address when deciding if you can leave detox and go back to work is if you can afford to do it. This is a true reality for many people addicted to drugs or alcohol, and they need to work to pay rent, keep food on the table or support a family. While it does not support you and your recovery the best, it is true that people need to work. Look into human service programs in your area first before you make this decision, however. There are likely more options than you think if you start looking for them. Staff at a rehab unit are trained to help people get their basic needs met while they are in treatment, and can often help you find the programs that you need to help pay rent, put food on the table and support your family while you are there.

What it comes down to is taking that final step and admitting that drugs or alcohol are causing more problems than they are worth, and getting the help that an inpatient unit can provide that a medical detox does not. Ask yourself these basic questions first before making any decisions. Talk with detox staff, because they have much experience when it comes to addiction, withdrawal, and treatment, and can give you advice on what will happen if you leave detox versus if you stay and go into treatment. This is your opportunity to get your life back in control.

Medical detox can be a lifesaver to people in the grips of addiction. Staff, there can provide support, both medical and emotional, that people need when they begin the withdrawal process. Detox is what keeps people from relapsing to avoid withdrawal. It is the start of the recovery process and brings stability back to a life out of control. Immediately going back to work after finishing detox is an option for anyone, but it is not usually the best option. Take the time to ask yourself these questions, and talk with the people that know addiction the best before you make the quick decision of going back to work after finishing detox.

Let us help you find a drug and alcohol detox program that will work well for you. Contact Stepping Stone Center for Recovery at 866-957-4960 to find a medical detox facility near you.