What is detox?

Navigating where to get help especially if you are concerned that your drug use may be becoming problematic can be difficult and confusing. Everyone has an opinion about drug use and they want to share it with you.

Maybe you just want to know where you can go and what are your options are so you can make an informed decision. Knowing what your options are can help you make an informed decision about what type of treatment would be best for you.

You can ring Alcohol Drug Information Service, ADIS, on 02 9361 8000 or free call 1800 422 599 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for education, information, support, crisis counseling and referral to services in NSW. Or check out their website [http://yourroom.com.au/]

So what are your options in NSW? If you are experiencing problematic drug use many treatment services require you to undergo detox or withdrawal program before you start their programs. So what is Detox?

What is detox?

Withdrawal or detoxification (also called detox) is the process of stopping the use of alcohol or other drugs in a medically supervised setting or under medical care whilst trying to minimise the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal. Most detoxs are done in specialist medical services but some detoxs can be completed at home under medical supervision.

Why do I need detox first?

As we mentioned earlier some Residential Rehabs [see what is rehab] only take if you have already detoxed. What they mean by detox is the process of ensuring you physically are no longer dependent on a particular drug or alcohol. Detoxing is important part of drug treatment because by ensuring you no longer have a physical dependence on drugs leaves you free to address the psychological factors that drug use raises.

What is physical dependence?

Physical dependence occurs when you have taken a drug for a long period of time and your body comes to rely on it, and if it’s not taken physical withdrawal symptoms will appear.

What is psychological dependence?

Psychological dependence occurs when you believe you need the drug to function and carry out normal day to day tasks. This could express itself through having to drink or use drugs when  social functions unless you drink or use drugs.

What can I expect from detoxing?

Your body will need to get used to not having that particular drug in your system, so you when you detox you may experience a range of symptoms, some minor, and some more serious.

Everyone experiences detox differently and the symptoms you may experience will depend on a variety of factors including, but not limited, to amount of drugs you have used, amount of time using the drug, your age, and your overall health and fitness.  Most people experience mild withdrawal symptoms which can include excessive sweating, sleep disturbances, insomnia, confusion, joint pain, or fever or more severe symptoms including vomiting, seizures, and shakes. This is why it is a good idea to complete your detox under medical supervision as staff are on hand to help you manage the more extreme symptoms.

Is detoxing safe?

For some drugs it is advised that you don’t detox without medical supervision to ensure you go through withdrawal safely. If you are considering detox, be sure to discuss this with your doctor or GP or with an alcohol and other drug treatment service first.

If you are trying to reduce or stop your dependence on alcohol, GHB, benzodiazepines or ketamine you should only do so under medical supervision. You may experience sever withdrawal symptoms, even death, if you try and stop the use of these drugs alone without the proper medical supervision.

As mentioned earlier some residential rehabs have detox facilities and others required a detox before entering. Most hospital-based rehabs have the facilities to provide supervised medicated detox’s at the beginning of a treatment program.

How long does it take to detox?

Generally, detox can last from a few days to a few weeks, but some symptoms, especially psychological  symptoms such as cravings, can continue for weeks, even years.

The length of time it takes for physical symptoms to pass depends on many factors including type of drug used, how long you have been using it, your age and general health.

Where can I go To detox?

Taking the first step and deciding to detox can be a big decision so it is important that you choose a venue where you feel safe and supported. Speak to your doctor, health practitioner or a drug and alcohol service for advice on which setting would be best for your needs. They will probably suggest one of the following:

Home detox: If your detox is not likely to be complicated then home detox might be the answer. You can speak to your GP or Doctor or Drug Health Service worker they will offer support to you so you can go through detox at home. Remember when choosing home detox you need to ensure that you can stick to a program where you will be unsupervised.  If you feel like temptation to use is a real possibility, then you should really think about whether home detox is for you.

Outpatient withdrawal: If you don’t plan on admitting yourself into a rehab after you complete your detox then an outpatient detox might be the best option for you. Outpatient detox consists of visiting your detox facility of choice on a regular basis until detox is completed. During your first visit, you’ll undergo a physical exam to determine your overall health. You may be given medication to help prevent some of the withdrawal symptoms. Usually on your first visit, you’ll stay a few hours for observation before the medical team will send you home with a supportive friend or family member.

Outpatient treatment is usually reserved for people who have only been using drugs or alcohol for a short period of time and are in relatively good health. It’s also important to note that outpatient therapy requires that you have at least one person willing to help support you throughout the detox process. When choosing outpatient detox you need to be honest with yourself and your ability to stick to the program in an unsupervised environment. If you feel like temptation to use is a real possibility you should seriously consider if Outpatient detox is for you.

Residential detox: As an inpatient you will be admitted to the service and will you stay at the treatment facility until you complete your detox.  Your stay in detox can last from 3 to 7 days depending on how long you have been using and your overall general health.

During your stay medical staff will be on hand to help manage both the physical and emotional symptoms of withdrawal. This is a good option if you are concerned that you may be tempted to use if you are unsupervised. At residential detox you are supervised 24 hours a day 7 day a week while you are there.

Does detox cost and are there waiting times?

Like Rehab services, private detox’s don’t have large waiting lists but they do charge fees for the service. As stated in the “What is rehab?“, cost varies from service to service but you may be able to use your private health cover to cover the costs or use your superannuation to pay for the costs. If you can’t afford to pay you can put your name down on public detox and wait for a bed to become available waiting lists may vary depending on whether you are in the city, regional or rural area.

Where can I find help?

You can ring Alcohol Drug Information Service, ADIS, on 02 9361 8000 or free call 1800 422 599 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for education, information, support, crisis counseling and referral to detox services in NSW. Or check out their website.

You can also check out Australian Drug Information Network (ADIN) for up to date information on treatment services across NSW.

You can also find up to date information on Australian Drug Foundation website.