Do I Really Need Inpatient Detox?
How can you know if you need inpatient detox treatment? Are there certain criteria that make a person better suited to this type of care? And even if you don’t necessarily need inpatient detox, can you still choose this treatment program over a different type of option?
Inpatient detox is more intensive than many other treatment programs available for substance abuse and dependence. However, some people truly need this option while others feel they would prefer to seek it for its additional benefits. Make sure you understand whether or not this program will be necessary for your safe recovery when you begin to seek out the best options for your needs.
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What Is Inpatient Detox?
Inpatient detox is a 24-hour treatment program for those going through medically assisted withdrawal. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, detox is usually the first stage of addiction treatment because it allows the symptoms of withdrawal to be safely managed with the help of a trained medical staff and treatments like medication, behavioral therapies, etc. In inpatient centers, patients are also given meals and sleeping accommodations, as well as daily activities.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Detox
Outpatient detox still provides patients with the main treatment options associated with withdrawal, including medications and behavioral therapies. However, these programs do not provide 24-hour care, a controlled environment, or amenities like meals and sleeping accommodations. Both types of treatment can be effective for someone who needs help recovering from drug or alcohol dependence, but there are many more differences between the two.
- Outpatient detox usually tends to be less expensive because it offers fewer additional options to patients. Still, many individuals are able to find inpatient detox programs that will offer them payment assistance. As stated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, facilities that offered care completely free of charge were more likely to also provide residential treatment than partial-free or non-free programs.
- Inpatient detox programs are generally more intensive than outpatient programs. The care is more hands-on, and patients will meet with their doctors and other practitioners more often.
- The NIDA states that some outpatient programs can provide little more than drug education to patients, so you must be aware of exactly what your treatment center will offer you before you choose to attend care there.
In general, inpatient detox is for those with more intense dependencies—as well as other issues—while outpatient detox is often more suitable for those with less severe dependencies. In addition, those who work, have strong social support systems, and have a large number of responsibilities may want to choose outpatient care so they can plan their recoveries around their daily lives. This isn’t possible for every patient, however.
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Severe Dependency and Inpatient Detox
Certain people may require inpatient care during detox because they have more severe dependencies than others. This means, if your reliance on your drug(s) of choice is intense enough, you may require inpatient care.
- Some people are afraid of relapsing during detox or after the program has ended. In fact, this is the time when many people are most vulnerable to this potential outcome. Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, painful, and in some cases, even unbearable, and many individuals will return to using drugs just to make them stop. It is also extremely dangerous to relapse during this point in one’s recovery. As stated by the National Library of Medicine, during and just after detox is the time when opioid addicts most commonly experience a deadly overdose. This is because they are likely to relapse as a result of their unbearable withdrawal symptoms, but they may not realize their tolerances have diminished. As a result, they will often use the same amount of the drug, which can lead to overdose.
- Other individuals may not realize they have a likelihood of relapse, but if someone who has grappled with substance abuse problems for a long time should seek inpatient detox.
In inpatient detox, patients are protected from the potential of relapse. They will not be able to return to drug abuse because they are in a controlled environment where they will not be able to get ahold of any dangerous substances. Any drug use in which they do participate will be strictly monitored by the facility’s staff.
Mental Illness and Inpatient Detox
Many individuals with substance use disorders also suffer from other mental illnesses. In fact, people who have addictions are more likely to also have depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, or other mental illnesses than the general public. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, mental health disorders can lead to addiction, and substance abuse can also cause mental illness. These individuals will often benefit from inpatient detox.
- Inpatient detox is an effective option for those with comorbid mental illnesses because it places these individuals in a controlled environment. Also, inpatient centers usually offer more treatment options in general, including holistic programs that could be beneficial to this population.
- According to a study published in Psychiatric Quarterly, people with any kind of high psychiatric severity usually benefit more from inpatient care. Many people suffer from severe psychological withdrawal symptoms that cannot be treated as effectively in outpatient care. These can range from mild depressive symptoms to anxiety about quitting their substance abuse to full-blown psychosis, the last of which can occur when someone goes through stimulant withdrawal.
Your Support System and Inpatient Detox
Not everyone has a support system of friends, family members, and other loved ones who can help them through the process of withdrawal and addiction treatment. Those who don’t should consider inpatient detox.
- Detox is a difficult time, and having extra support can mean the difference between relapse and recovery. The NIDA states that patient who have family support during treatment often fair better in their recoveries and stay in treatment longer. If you do not have this, the other patients and staff in your detox facility can become your support system, especially if you are with them 24 hours a day.
- Some withdrawal syndromes can also take a turn for the worst suddenly and without warning. Especially if you do not have loved ones who will be able to monitor you during your withdrawal, you should consider seeking inpatient detox treatment for this reason.
Some people are also not in an environment that will be conducive to recovery. They may either live alone, have continued access to drugs of abuse, or be in close contact with people who do not want them to recover. Also, according to the journal Military Medicine, a person’s environment as a child can set the stage for drug abuse and future addictions. All of these situations would call for inpatient detox treatment in order for the patient to recover safely.
Do I Really Need Inpatient Detox?
Not everyone needs inpatient detox. Some individuals are perfectly suited to outpatient care followed by some form of rehab program. However, others may find inpatient detox much more effective—and even essential—for their safe recoveries.
Ask yourself the questions below to find out if this program will better suit your needs.
- Do you have a severe addiction or dependence syndrome?
- Are you addicted to or a user of multiple drugs?
- Are you worried about relapsing, especially during withdrawal?
- Have you relapsed during or after withdrawal in the past?
- Is this your first time going through detox?
- Is it likely you might experience any severe—such as extremely painful or even life threatening—withdrawal symptoms?
- Are you suffering from any comorbid mental disorders?
- Are any of the common withdrawal symptoms associated with your drug(s) of choice psychological in nature?
- Do you lack a strong support system of friends and family members who can help you through withdrawal?
- Do you believe you will be relying mostly on yourself to stay sober if you are not in treatment 24 hours a day?
- Is your home life dangerous in any way or not conducive to recovery?
- Are you afraid someone at home might hurt you or tempt you back to substance abuse?
- Have you tried to detox on your own or in outpatient care before and been unsuccessful?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is a strong indicator that you could require inpatient detox to safely navigate withdrawal. It is important to remember that the symptoms you are likely to encounter are often painful and even frightening. In certain cases, they can be extremely dangerous. This is why inpatient detox is so often recommended as a safe option for medically assisted withdrawal.
Every patient is different and needs to choose the program that best suits their needs. But most people are able to build a solid foundation for recovery by choosing inpatient detox. After you answer the questions above, consider whether or not this may be the best option for you.
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- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says- 8: Medical Detoxification.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). Awareness Campaigns On Underage Drinking. Suicide Prevention. Mental Health.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)- Types of Treatment Programs.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Common Comorbidities with Substance Use Disorders- Introduction.
- The Psychiatric Quarterly. (1993). Inpatient vs Outpatient Treatment for Substance Dependence Revisited.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)- How can family and friends make a difference in the life of someone needing treatment?
- Military Medicine. (2005). Family and Environmental Factors of Drug Addiction Among Young Recruits.