Too many people equate the end of a physical addiction and the end of a period of detoxification off of drugs or alcohol as the end of recovery, and due to this misconception, far too many people need to endure the pains of detox on many occasions.
What is detox?
To detox means to rid the body of the lingering physical metabolites of the drug of abuse, and although the time needed for this can vary with the drug of abuse, between a few days and a week is long enough for most of the symptoms to disperse for most dugs. True detox actually continues for months, as the body slowly adjusts to sobriety and regulates processes damages through addiction; and some symptoms of long term withdrawal and detox can linger throughout these months.
But detox is not treatment, and in fact during the days of detox very few people are in any real shape to learn the kinds of things that need to be absorbed for any real chance at sobriety.
Why detox is never enough
Detox is a physical process, but the act of treatment is largely mental and spiritual, and for any real hope of continuing abstinence and sobriety recovering addicts need to understand why they abuse drugs, what risks factors lead them to crave drugs or alcohol, and have strategies and tools at the ready to fight these temptations and cravings when they inevitably do emerge.
Detox is a necessary first step to sobriety, and getting through detox without abuse is a great accomplishment, but it’s only after detox are recovering addicts then ready to start participation in group peer support meetings, to start to develop a relapse plan with a therapist, and to start to participate in cognitive educational seminars that give addicts the tools to avoid situations likely to cause temptation, and to know what to do when temptation does arise.
Because detox can be dangerous, it always best occurs under direct medical supervision with the prescription of appropriate medications for safety, and since the period of detox is both a time of discomfort, and also a time of intense cravings to use and abuse, the detox has a far greater likelihood of success should it occur in a facility far removed from access to drugs or alcohol.
Alcoholics and drug addicts fear the days of detox and physical pain, and getting past the initial period of physical addiction is an accomplishment, but it is only the beginning of a long road to sobriety, and those people who deny themselves real treatment after detox also deny themselves the best chance at success and sobriety.