There are 4 main types of detox available for alcoholics and addicts to reach the initial stages of sobriety. There is cold turkey detox, specialized detox centers, a medical detox facility, or a rapid detox center.
Each has its own advantages and disadvantages and anyone looking to recover from a serious addiction should understand the options before they decide on a treatment option.
Therefore let’s look at the different types available.
Cold Turkey Detox
Sometime’s called “natural detox,” a cold-turkey detox involves the patient going through the stages of withdrawal while living in a private setting and receiving little or no medical care or assistance.
This method has the smallest chances of breaking the initial acute withdrawal stages, and many with a substance dependency end up returning to their drug or drink of choice before their recovery efforts can reach a critical mass.
Despite the risk of failure, quitting “cold turkey” is not dangerous provided the substance is fairly benign — like a mild opiate addiction or marijuana.
Unfortunately, cold turkey detox can also lead to life-threatening symptoms (known as AWS) if it is used for certain other substances. With substances like benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and alcohol, sudden cessation can trigger very severe symptoms – including seizures, cardiac or respiratory arrest, comas, and sometimes even death. In these cases, cold turkey detox is not advised at all.
Of course, regardless of the substance which lies at the center of the chemical dependency, most experts don’t recommend natural detox as chances of succeeding are not as high as other options.
Special Drug Detox Centers
Specialized drug detox center will provide an inpatient-style treatment for as much as 2 weeks. Patients get an initial evaluation. This is used for developing an individualized plan of treatment for the length of their stay. Since these plans are tailored to the patient, some patients can be treated in a few days or less, whereas others may need a week or more. Many of these facilities will work with a longer-term treatment facility like New Directions for Women so that patients can automatically transfer to longer-term care once detox is complete.
Medical detox works similarly to specialized detox centers but there is much more of a focus on the medical aspect. Usually there is a doctor or nurse on site, monitoring is 24 hours a day, and there are other medically-focused aspects. Medical detox centers may also help the patient step down drug usage gradually in order to maintain their safety in a medical sense and reduce symptoms of withdrawal.
A medical detox is often needed by patients who have repeatedly relapsed, since trying to get clean again can sometimes produce a more severe withdrawal phase which lasts longer. This is known as the Kindling Effect. It’s quite a real phenomenon which makes it very hard for people to get and stay clean. Medical detox centers address these issues with an expert touch in a safe and nonjudgmental environment.
Rapid Detox Centers
Rapid detox is a medically-focused detox procedure where the patient experiences most of the withdrawal symptoms while they are unconscious. This works by putting the patient in a medically-induced coma, then administering a number of drugs which facilitate and hasten the acute withdrawal process. This spares them from experiencing the worst of their symptoms and lets them start treatment without the discomfort and pain of a long withdrawal period.
Unfortunately rapid detox is fairly new and we don’t yet understand how successful it is when looked at from the perspective of long-term treatment success. Patients considering a rapid detox should ask their doctor before they speak with a rapid detox facility.