Alcohol Rehab Versus Detox: What’s the Difference?

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It’s important to understand how inpatient rehab and detox differ. The two are different things that you will face at different points in your recovery. Most people will need to undergo both detox and inpatient rehab to have the best chance of success. Detox focuses on the physical aspects of the addiction while rehab focuses on the mental. Your medical detox will occur before you begin any rehabilitation programs, or it may be the first step in a treatment program.

When and Why to Participate in a Medical Detox

Before you can have a medically supervised detox, you need to have a physician do a medical assessment. This might be as simple as answering a series of questions from your general practitioner. It’s helpful to bring a trusted loved one to the medical assessment. When the doctor has ascertained the level of your alcohol dependence, they can recommend treatment programs.

Almost all doctors will recommend that you have a medically supervised detox when alcohol is involved. This is because alcohol withdrawal carries risk of delirium tremens, a life-threatening side effect. Medical detoxes are also ideal because they remove you from easy access to alcohol. For many alcoholics, the supervision inherent in a medically supervised detox is vital for them to get sober successfully. Alcoholics have a much higher chance of relapsing if they try to quit alcohol on their own.

How Long Does Detox Take?

The exact length of your detox will depend on a number of factors. For most alcoholics, the first symptoms of withdrawal begin to show about six hours after the last drink. In people with severe alcoholism, withdrawal symptoms might appear in as few as two hours. The symptoms gradually become more acute, reaching their peak about one to three days following the last drink.

After the withdrawal symptoms reach their peak, they will slowly start to fade. For the most part, the length of withdrawal correlates to the level of alcohol abuse involved. If you’ve been abusing alcohol for a long time, or you abuse large amounts of alcohol, your withdrawal period is likely to be longer. Meanwhile, height and weight can also play a part in the length that detoxification takes.

The bulk of the symptoms should have faded within a week. Some patients do experience milder withdrawal symptoms for several weeks after the last drink, but the detox process usually doesn’t exceed a week. Common persistent withdrawal symptoms are anxiety, irritability, and mild nausea.

When you begin your detox, your doctor may prescribe medications to help you with the pain of withdrawal. This is another huge advantage that detox has over at-home detoxification. Doctor-supervised medication administration helps to increase the overall success rate of recovery.

Inpatient Alcohol Rehab

Inpatient rehab usually takes place in a rehabilitation facility. Your detox may also take place in the facility, especially if your medical detox is the first step in your treatment plan. Alternatively, you may detox in a hospital and transfer to the rehab facility afterward.

Rehabilitation facilities are the places where you’ll address your addiction. A successful detox is a great step; physically speaking, detox is the hardest part of the recovery process. But detox is far from the last step. Addiction is a mental illness in addition to its physical dependency components. When people don’t address the mental aspect of their addiction, there’s a good chance that they’ll relapse within a week of returning to their home environment.

Treatment centers will give you access to doctors and other mental health professionals. You’ll have individual therapy sessions to address your underlying addiction. You’ll also have group therapy sessions to help you support and relate to other people struggling with addiction. Depending on the program, you might also engage in creative therapies and family therapy.

Inpatient rehabs are structured to allow you the maximum potential time and resources to tackle your alcoholism. You won’t get access to this kind of care in any other environment. The packed day-to-day schedule leaves very little free time to think about alcohol, and you’ll be supervised well enough that obtaining alcohol will be difficult. Mental health professionals will be available twenty-four hours a day for times when you’re struggling with your recovery.

The majority of inpatient programs last for a few months. Twelve weeks is a common time period, although there are shorter programs that last between four and eight weeks. On the other end of the spectrum, there are residential programs lasting for six or more months if you need a longer period of care.

Family Therapy in Rehabs

Another key difference between detox and rehab is the level of involvement that your loved ones have in the process. When you detox, whether it’s in a treatment facility or a hospital, you’ll probably be allowed to have your loved ones visit. Rehab facilities also allow family and friends to visit, but most have an additional benefit: They offer family therapy.

Alcoholism is a disease that can tear families apart. Sometimes, family members need to clear the air to heal past hurts. Doing this with an impartial mediator can keep the conversation productive and healing rather than confrontational.

It’s also common for a person’s environment to exacerbate their alcohol use. These environmental triggers might involve stress, another person’s drinking, or any number of things. Family therapy allows you to work on your home environment without being physically present in your home environment.

You’ll have a chance to set boundaries and establish healthy relationships with your family members and other loved ones. A support network is essential to the prevention of future relapses.

If you’re seeking treatment for alcoholism, know that you aren’t alone. Thousands of people successfully complete treatment programs every year. By combining a medical detox with an inpatient program, you’ll maximize your chances of success. Call 888-380-0342 to speak to one of our trained counselors about your rehabilitation options. We’re here to answer questions and offer help at all times.

Just Believe Recovery is a fully licensed, Joint Commission accredited, comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment center located in Carbondale, Pennsylvania

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