For people who are addicted to illegal or prescription drugs, detoxification is the first step on the road to recovery.  Detoxification from many drugs, including opioids, sedatives and stimulants, requires medical supervision.  This supervision can best be provided in an inpatient drug rehab facility. 

The Inpatient Detox Process

The most acute physical symptoms of withdrawal are fever, changes in blood pressure and heart rate, vomiting, seizure, coma and even death.  For some people, the psychological symptoms can be severe and just as life-threatening as the physical symptoms.  They may include anxiety, depression, delirium, hallucinations and even psychosis. Some substances also cause protracted withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, irritability, slowed thinking and gastrointestinal disturbances.

The symptoms and medical protocol to be followed during detoxification are specific to the type of substance that has been abused.  Detox will usually begin within hours of the addict taking his or her last dose of the abused drug.  Symptoms will build over the next 36 to 72 hours, with the exact duration of withdrawal depending on the drug and on the individual’s physical and mental condition.  In some cases, medication may be used to manage symptoms.  Throughout detox, inpatient drug rehab staff should provide medical and psychological support.

Post-Detox Treatment

Once detox has been completed, inpatient drug rehab treatment can focus on the mental health of the recovering addict.  The inpatient rehab treatment program should include therapy that focuses on getting sober and avoiding relapse.  This may be done through individual or group therapy sessions.  If the patient has underlying mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, these must be addressed in order for recovery to be successful.  Classes in relaxation, meditation, nutrition and exercise are often provided to help the patient develop a healthier lifestyle and to take the patient’s mind off the addictive substance. 

Many inpatient drug rehab programs include the patient’s family in the treatment process.  Together, patients and families can learn how to cope with stress.  Emotional suffering that family members may have undergone is identified and discussed.  Family members are prepared for changes in behavior patterns and interpersonal dynamics that may come along with their loved one’s sobriety.

The Importance of Aftercare

A good inpatient drug rehab program should address aftercare before releasing a patient from the program.  This includes providing the patient with the tools to avoid relapse and putting a follow-up treatment plan in place.  Recovering addicts need to understand that they must avoid high-risk acquaintances and situations.  If relapse does occur, there should be a way for the recovering addict to get help quickly.  Finally, a schedule of therapy sessions or group meetings should be established to increase the chances of staying drug-free.