Detoxification refers generally to the process of eliminating toxins from the human body. In the context of drug abuse, detox generally refers to a period of time in which the body is given the opportunity to properly process and metabolize alcohol and any other drugs in the body and, in so doing, clears their harmful toxic effects. There are many reasons why detoxification programs are important in the treatment of drug abuse. In the most extreme cases, detox can be life saving. At most, it is a way for a drug addict to rid themselves of potentially addictive substances.
There are two basic approaches to detoxification processes. The first is called the one that provides the patient with on-site detoxification services. The second is called the extended care or long term care (ECC) approach. The latter is considered to be more effective and can offer a more comprehensive recovery plan for the patient. This recovery plan takes into account the patient’s needs as well as the underlying medical condition of the patient. An ECC approach may include, for example, the use of residential or community rehabilitation centers, short-term medications, therapies and support groups, and a return back program.
In general, when providing effective detoxification services, health care providers should consider the various risk factors that can increase the likelihood of a patient returning to drug abuse. These include the withdrawal from substances such as alcohol and opiates; exposure to contaminated medical supplies; exposure to contaminated blood and urine; the presence of diseases and conditions that compromise detoxification processes; and physical conditions that limit detoxification capabilities. It is also important for health care providers to consider the various aspects of a patient’s lifestyle. Family counseling and family therapy can play an important role in aiding the process and recovery from substance abuse. However, there are additional methods that should be considered in the event that drug detoxification services are needed.