The choice to take action to overcome drug addiction and alcoholism and begin a road to recovery is a difficult decision for anyone to make. Family friends often find themselves trying to convince their suffering loved one to get help. The individual suffering from addiction often is in denial about having an issue with substances, the negative impact substances are having in their lives, or how bad the problem has gotten.
Once someone is able to overcome these issues and fears and ask for help, detox is typically the first step in the process of addiction treatment and recovery. However, there are many myths that people tell themselves about detox or have heard about detox that can cause a barrier between the decision to seek help and actually taking action on beginning a journey of health.
Common Myths About Drug Detox
Myth #1: You don’t need professional help- you can detox alone or on your own
This myth is often just the manifestation of denial or fear. Those suffering from addiction and substance use disorder can often admit that they have a problem or that they need and want to seek help for their issues with substances. The lip service occurs all the time. However, when the recommendation is made that they need to seek professional help (through a detox, a rehab, a treatment center, a hospital, or another professional setting) they often balk. Because engaging in detox and treatment is scary and brings the idea of getting better (and changing) right to the forefront. It means going somewhere, even if only for a short time. It means getting uncomfortable, even if that discomfort will bring about growth, positive change, and healing. Almost everyone that suffers from addiction will automatically choose a path of least resistance, of comfort over discomfort, and the easy softer way. Which is why people ask, “How long do I have to go?” or “How long will this take? Or “Can’t I just detox on my own at home?” Some people will say “I have done this on my own before, so I can just do it on my own again”, not recognizing that perhaps doing something different is what they need to go far enough to make the necessary positive change and have it stick. It is important to point out that best practices are to detox under the medical and clinical care of professionals. Withdrawal can be painful and uncomfortable. Detoxing on one’s own can be very dangerous and, depending on the substances, sometimes fatal. Also, while someone may get through a detox on their own, it is extremely rare for someone to find sustainable sobriety and recovery. Detoxing in a professional setting under medical care allows for the withdrawal to be monitored and controlled with FDA-approved medications, provides medical, clinical, and recovery support, and offers individuals the resources they will need to get through the detox while preparing them appropriately for long-term recovery.
Myth #2: Detox is a very painful and uncomfortable process
Many people, especially those with an opioid addiction, believe that detoxing is just the process of stopping drug usage and going through withdrawals. Similarly, other substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines can cause very painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. However, there is a difference between withdrawals and detox. While it is true that there is no magic pill or cure that will allow someone with an addiction to stop using without some discomfort, a medically managed detox process is able to use appropriate FDA-approved medications meant specifically for the withdrawal process, as well as other medications and comfort meds, to manage withdrawal symptoms and make the detox process as painless and comfortable as possible.
Myth #3: Detox means “going away” and therefore a long, abrupt disruption to your life
The detox process for any substance is not a very long process to get someone through withdrawals and get them to be medically stable. While the exact time frame differs from person-to-person and the specific substances an individual is misusing, a general timeframe for a detox is a short as 4-5 days and as long as 8-10 days. Additionally, when appropriate, it is certainly possible for the detox facility to allow individuals receiving care to also take care of major responsibilities, such as important work duties or paying bills. Addiction is a chronic illness and a health condition, and while it is important that outside responsibilities don’t become distractions and that any patient coming to detox participates in clinical care and support, there is also no need to think that major duties or life responsibilities will go neglected.
Myth #4: I’m not an addict. Only drug addicts go to detox and treatment
Many people reject the help offered by detox and treatment because of the societal idea that if someone goes to detox or rehab, they are an addict. First, it’s important to point out that the term “addict” is known to stigmatize and is almost never used in a professional healthcare setting anymore. Additionally, society has created a vision for what an “addict” is and many people, as often most people seeking help for substance use disorder, don’t fit that assumed vision. The truth is that seeking help for substances does not make someone an “addict.” The term “addict” isn’t even a category that someone can meet medical criteria for in healthcare. Substance use disorder is a spectrum and people fall on all areas of that spectrum, including mild, moderate, or severe. The reason that people seek help is that they need help to stop the negative coping issues of substance misuse, meaning that their substance use has gotten away from them, is causing problems or having a negative impact on their life in some way, or they are unable to moderate or stop substance use on their own. There is no shame in that. Many different types of people need help through detox and treatment. Some start using drugs at a young age and can’t stop. Some were prescribed medications from a doctor and became physically dependent on them. Some people starting with legal medications and then start buying them off the street. Some people that need help have burned their lives and savings to the ground or are homeless and been disowned by their families, while others are successful businesspeople. Some are young adults in college that started using substances to help them in school, while others are older adults who used medications as prescribed with no issues for years but have now found them to be a problem. Some are people that are using substances to cope with other mental health conditions, like anxiety and depression. There is no one type of person that needs detox and treatment when it comes to help with substances. The way to look at it is, regardless of what a person’s life looks like, that a person’s relationship with substances is not good and causing problems. Because of this detrimental relationship, the person is having consequences that can be either internal (shame, guilt, negative or detrimental behaviors), external (trouble in a marriage or relationship, trouble at work, legal troubles), or both. Just as someone with a health condition or medical issue would seek help from a doctor or specialist, so does someone having an issue with substances need to seek help from professionals, which is why they would find care at a detox and treatment facility.
Myth #5: To find recovery and get my life on track, all I need to do is go to detox and stop using
Addiction is a chronic health disorder that needs to be managed through long-term care in order to achieve sustainable recovery. Many people believe all they need to do is get help in order to stop using substances and they don’t need any further care or support. However, we know that the best recovery outcomes come from those individuals who engage in long-term treatment, care, and recovery support. The list of people who have gone to detox dozens of times and refuse further care, only to end up back in detox again, is very long indeed. It is important to understand that detox and medical stabilization is only the first step in recovery; the first piece of the recovery puzzle. Additionally, once detoxed and engaged in treatment and recovery, people end of finding out that their issue wasn’t the substances- rather the substances were the negative coping mechanism they had for greater issues that needed addressing and a process of healing, and that the coping mechanism (substances) in time only made their lives worse. Detox is the process of stopping substance misuse and becoming physically free of substances, but recovery is a long-term healing process. In order to find recovery, to find freedom and happiness through recovery, and to get your life on track, detox is a vital first step of a much longer journey of health and wellness.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.