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What Is The Difference Between A Detox And Rehab?

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, recognising that there is a problem is the first step on the path to recovery. Once the problem is recognised you will need to determine the best form of treatment to handle the addiction. Deciding on the best form of treatment involves understanding the different phases of recovery.

The first phase of recovery is detoxification, the second phase is rehabilitation, and the final phase of this lifelong journey is maintaining abstinence from substance use.

It is important to differentiate between the phases in addition to understanding how each phase correlates with one another. Detoxification and rehabilitation are oftentimes used interchangeably, however, there are key differences between the two.

Key Differences Between Detox And Rehab

Detox refers to the elimination of toxins(addictive substances) in the body. During detox, the physical aspects of addiction are addressed. This includes the withdrawal symptoms and removal of the addictive substance from your body.

Detox treatment can be performed in a clinical setting under close medical supervision, in a holistic environment, or at home.

Rehab, on the other hand, concentrates on the underlying factors associated with addiction, and the areas that are affected. This includes the mental, emotional, psychological, and social aspects of addiction.

Depending on the substance abused, withdrawal symptoms can cause seizures or cardiac arrest, or other adverse reactions. Medical detox in a clinical setting involves managing these withdrawal symptoms through the use of replacement medication. The replacement medication is dispersed using a taper down method.

Rehab is considered a form of substance abuse treatment, whereas detox is not. Detox does not provide therapy, counselling, or support that is needed to avoid relapsing. Rehabs introduce coping mechanisms that an individual can use to avoid relapsing. Some of these activities include holistic therapies such as yoga, meditation, volunteer work, or learning a new trade or hobby.

While an individual is in the detox process, connection to the outside world is eliminated. During detox, you are required to refrain from the use of electronics and communicating with loved ones and family members.

Rehabs allow you to visit with family and encourage reconnecting with family through therapy and counselling. This helps build a support system once you complete rehab.

Detox Without Rehab

The purpose detox serves is to remove the toxic substances from the body. It does not address the underlying cause of the addiction and it does not address relapse prevention.

After the toxins are removed from the body, an addict can easily slip into the patterns of addiction and substance abuse. For individuals with a long history of substance abuse or those who abuse multiple substances, learning how to avoid them is vital to their recovery.

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Rehab Without Detox

After understanding the difference between rehab and detox people question whether rehab can be done without detox. It is possible to go to rehab without detoxing first, however, the success of the treatment can be compromised. Certain substances that are abused require a person to detox before rehab to ensure success.

Detox is a process that prepares the mind and body for rehab. If your mind and body have not been cleaned before rehab, you have a higher risk of leaving the treatment programme because the withdrawal symptoms become unbearable.

Some rehab facilities offer a detox programme before entering treatment. Some treatment programmes may require that you complete a detox process before taking part in their treatment program. Each person is unique in their addiction, which is why individuals have customised treatment plans when they decide to seek help.

Detox Process

According to the Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration, this process involves 3 steps evaluation, stabilisation, and transitional. It is a recommended process before entering a treatment programme, however, it is not mandatory.

The detox process begins with an evaluation by a medical professional. During the evaluation, an interview, assessment, screening, and blood tests are performed to determine your need for help and assist you with a treatment plan. After the evaluation individuals are moved to the stabilisation phase of detox.

The stabilisation phase is where your mind and body will be prepped for rehab. You will receive replacement medication if necessary, discuss your nutrition and diet, and learn how the treatment and recovery process works. The final phase of detox is the transitional phase.

The transitional phase assists individuals with transitioning from detox to treatment. You will become familiar with the treatment programmes that are available to you, such as aftercare, outpatient, or inpatient.

If you complete the detox process at a rehab facility you will be given information about the programmes offered at that facility and outside of that facility.

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When Detox Is Not Necessary

Not all substances require detoxification before entering rehab. Remember the purpose of detox is to get rid of the substance and manage withdrawal symptoms. Some substances pass through the body fairly quickly where there is a minimal withdrawal effect or the addiction is more psychological than physical.

Detox aforementioned does not address the psychological aspect of addiction.

Drugs that fall within this category include the following:

However, keep in mind that not every addiction is the same. Therefore, although the above substances rarely produce withdrawal symptoms, doesn’t mean an individual will not have them.

When Detox Is Necessary

To reiterate the purpose of detox is to manage the physical dependency of addiction. An addiction to physically addictive substances is when detox is warranted. Physically addicting substances can cause severe withdrawal symptoms that need to be closely monitored by medical professionals in a medical facility.

The types of substances that fall in this category include:

  • Opiates (prescription narcotic painkillers, such as oxycodone or oxycontin)
  • Opioids (heroin)
  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines-(psychoactive drugs used to treat anxiety or panic disorder)

Addiction to these substances can produce severe withdrawal symptoms that can only be alleviated through the use of replacement medication. The withdrawal symptoms that an individual can experience from these substances can be life-threatening.

Therefore, it is important that as soon as an individual experiences withdrawal from these substances, they enter a detox programme.

The type of medicines used to manage withdrawals include:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naloxone
  • Librium
  • Valium
  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Clonidine

Withdrawal Symptoms Managed With Detox

Most individuals that enter into a detox programme are possibly dealing with withdrawal symptoms depending on the substance used, the amount used, and when the individual last used the substance.

The withdrawal symptoms that an individual might experience include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Seizure
  • Hallucinations
  • Dehydration
  • Headaches
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Chills
  • Flu-like symptoms

Individuals may experience some or all of the above withdrawal symptoms. Entering a detox programme will help ease these symptoms.


Length Of Time A Person Should Detox

The length of time a person may need to detox will vary from person to person. Several factors contribute to how much time a person needs to detox.

These factors include the following:

  • Medical history
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Mental health conditions
  • The substance(s) abused
  • How often substance was abused
  • How much of the substance was used and when the substance was last used

In general, the detox process can last anywhere between 3-10 days. An individual is ready to move on to a treatment programme once their physical and mental health has been stabilised and they are no longer experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

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What To Expect After Detoxing

After the detoxing process is complete, you are ready to move on to a treatment programme. Detox is not considered a treatment programme. Treatment programmes provide additional counselling, therapy, and support that is needed to continue living a normal life and to prevent relapsing.

Inpatient rehab is recommended for individuals with a long history of drug and/or alcohol abuse. For individuals with a mild to moderate addiction, detoxing and attending meetings may be the key to living a normal life.

Entering Rehab

Before completing the detox process, an individual will need to determine the best type of rehab that will help with their recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that a 90-day minimum in an inpatient rehab treatment programme after the detox process results in greater success for individuals with a long history of addiction.

Not all individuals will need to enter an inpatient rehab. However, because of the intensity of inpatient rehabs, it is often recommended as the best solution after the detox process.

When you enter rehab, whether it is inpatient or outpatient, you should be prepared to focus on obtaining the tools and skills that you need to maintain your sobriety. This includes a treatment plan that will help you once you finish rehab, and resources for additional support to continue living a life drug and alcohol-free.

Living Life After Detox And Rehab

Recovery aforementioned is a lifelong journey. It doesn’t end after detox and rehab. Once the processes of detox and rehab are complete, an individual will need to maintain a substance-free life. This can be done through aftercare, counselling, and attending meetings.

An individual will need to use the skills that were learned in rehab to avoid relapsing. However, if an individual does relapse, it is not the end of the world. It is part of recovery.

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Call now on 0800 138 0722 for confidential and immediate advice.

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