Detox Vs. Rehab – What's the Difference?

Author: NP Addiction Clinic
Published: January 3, 2023

You or a loved one may be considering addiction treatment to overcome substance abuse. At this stage, you might be unsure about the difference between detox programs and rehab. It's possible that you wonder what role each plays in recovery from addiction. This blog post provides an overview of detox vs. rehab and describes what a person can expect when entering into a treatment program.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Before comparing detox vs. rehab, it is useful to understand what is meant by drug and alcohol addiction. Substance abuse causes people to become dependent on the substance to feel normal. When they quit, they develop withdrawal symptoms. When a person can no longer control their use of the substance, even if it brings negative consequences, this is an addiction. Both dependency and addiction fall under the category of substance use disorder (SUD).

In 2019, it was reported that 35 million people worldwide suffered from drug use disorders, yet only one in seven people received treatment. Some people receive treatment but not enough. Between 2003 and 2011 in the United States, only 13% of inpatient hospitalizations for drug detoxification resulted in further hospital rehabilitation.

In detox, a substance is removed from a person's body, and they go through withdrawal. However, if the addiction is left unaddressed, a person may fall back into drug use as soon as they have undergone detox. Addiction is a mental illness that needs direct attention. It is also important to deal with the underlying causes of using drugs in the first place.

Addiction often completely takes over a person's life, making them use a substance despite all negative consequences, including the loss of valuable and long-lasting relationships with friends or family. The compulsive need to use a drug can lead a person to engage in risky behavior, abandon responsibilities, and place themselves in financial difficulty.

It is a good idea to receive a professional diagnosis to understand whether you need addiction treatment or whether detox alone is sufficient. The type, duration, amount, and frequency of drug or alcohol use, your overall physical and mental health, and your support system may determine whether you need rehab.

The Detox Process

The Detox Process

The detox process refers to ridding the body of addictive substances and toxins. The initial part of a detox process is usually physically challenging and can take a toll on a person both physically and mentally. Detoxing from opioids outside of a medical facility, for example, can be so uncomfortable that a person is very unlikely to complete detox before returning to substance use. Attempting to quit 'cold turkey', especially from certain substances such as benzodiazepines and alcohol, can be fatal if done without medical professionals.

The withdrawal process comes with symptoms that are often painful or involve strong cravings for the drug. While withdrawal varies depending on the kind of drug, the amount, and the duration of use, it generally includes flu-like symptoms, sweating, headaches, malaise, or exhaustion. Withdrawal from alcohol can lead to a condition called delirium tremens, which involves immense confusion and weakness. It can be life-threatening, leading to coma or death.

Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely stressful, which is why medical supervision in a detox center or treatment center is always advised. A medical professional can monitor a person's vital signs and manage their withdrawal symptoms, in some cases with the aid of medicine. Having a medical team at hand 24/7 makes drug detox as safe and as comfortable as possible.

The detox process is intended to cleanse the body of toxic substances. Medical assistance can reduce pain and discomfort, lower anxiety and manage stress levels, and help the body's immune system regain strength. A detox may help someone gain control over their behavior because it lessens their drug and alcohol cravings.

Drug or alcohol detox essentially lays the foundation for recovery. This is where the 'real' work in battling addiction begins. If detox vs rehab were a contest, both would win because each plays an essential part in recovery.

Is Detox Required to Attend Rehab?

Is Detox Required to Attend Rehab?

Detox programs and rehab focus on different objectives. Undergoing detox does not stop someone from using drugs again. It does successfully break the body's immediate dependency on a drug. A detox process followed by a recovery program is usually needed to achieve long-term sobriety.

A detox program allows a person to regain control of their body, giving them more space to function optimally again. Addressing the physical effects of drug use is often needed for a person to start addressing the underlying factors – or the psychological and emotional consequences – of their substance use. Without detox, rehabilitation may be far away, as the body may continue to malfunction due to the presence of addictive substances.

In some cases, where a person is not physically dependent, or the substance they abused does not require a medical detox, their recovery journey may begin directly with what is known as inpatient or residential treatment.

The frequency and depth of a person's drug use influence the treatment they need. However, both detox and rehab are generally essential to beating addiction. There is no contest of detox vs. rehab because they are actually two parts of a single, vital process.

Drug Rehab

At the start, medical personnel may evaluate a person's overall health and design a treatment plan to meet their specific needs. One of the strengths of addiction treatment is that it typically uses a holistic approach focused on healing the whole person. This means that the mind, body, and spirit are cared for.

Rehab focuses on getting to the 'why' of addiction so that a person has a solid chance of full recovery. After learning about dependency, a person learns about themselves so that they may regain total wellness and stay sober in the long run.

Rehab lasts longer than detox. Treatment programs may run anywhere between 30, 60, or 90 days. The length of stay usually depends upon the severity of a person's addiction, their commitment to the rehab process, and their willingness to learn and grow. There are various types of programs, such as inpatient or outpatient treatment or aftercare programs, which vary according to an individual's needs.

You may attend inpatient treatment at a residential facility; this is rigorous since you will live at the treatment facility 24/7. This may be followed up with outpatient treatment, whereby you reside at home and attend specific therapies at the center.

Most programs also offer aftercare services. Some people may require an aftercare program or to stay in sober living homes to transition back into life outside the treatment facility and continue abstinence. A rehabilitation team can help a person set up a plan that includes where to go for support, back-to-work plans, addressing family issues, and any other concerns a person may have.

While most people seeking treatment wish to overcome addiction as quickly and painlessly as possible, The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and many others have shown that people who fully complete rehab are more likely to achieve and maintain sobriety. A complete investment in the recovery process and long-term treatment produce higher success rates in overcoming addiction.

The main aim of drug and alcohol rehab is to allow a person the time they need to cope with the range of causes behind their addiction and to develop new coping skills to minimize the risk of relapse. It further helps to replace negative habits with healthier ones, which allows a person to maintain their addiction recovery.

What Does an Addiction Treatment Program Entail?

What Does an Addiction Treatment Program Entail?

Apart from detox, a rehab treatment program typically involves various types of therapies. It also includes activities that contribute to health and well-being. Many programs may include activities such as educational lectures or alternative activities like yoga, art and music therapy, and exercise.

Individual Therapy

Drug use is usually treated by individual therapy, typically cognitive behavioral therapy, as part of a treatment program. One-on-one sessions with a therapist allow an individual to identify the underlying causes for their drug use, triggers for returning to drug use, and the skills to respond to these triggers healthily. It helps a person to develop new habits and ways of thinking about themselves and the outside world.

Group Therapy Sessions

In a group setting, these sessions follow 12-step programs and involve sharing experiences, challenges, coping skills, and accomplishments throughout recovery. Group therapy can teach a person how to handle stress, manage emotions, and improve their relationship with others. Group therapy sessions also provide a good support system for maintaining sobriety.

Family Therapy

Family therapy is also part of the recovery process. As substance abuse also affects those surrounding a person suffering from addiction, family therapy is there to help rebuild broken relationships. It involves family members expressing how they have been affected by a loved one's drug use and serves to improve communication skills and family dynamics. The strengthening of the family unit can greatly support someone in recovery.

Where Can I Find Detox and Rehab?

If you are seeking detox or addiction treatment, NP Addiction Clinic can help. Our highly trained clinical team can provide around-the-clock help, support, and guidance to ensure that your initial detox is as safe and comfortable as possible while additionally treating the underlying cause of your addiction.

By using a variety of treatment modalities that combine specialized, cutting-edge therapeutic techniques with FDA-approved medications, NP Addiction Clinic can address both the medical and behavioral aspects of substance abuse.

Contact us to find out how we can help you. We offer treatment detox and rehab for addictions to alcohol and drugs. Our other services on offer include:

  • Dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring substance use disorders and mental health disorders.
  • Specialized treatment for substance abuse in pregnancy
  • Treatment for PTSD
  • Treatment for depression
  • Treatment for personality disorders

We know that overcoming addiction is individual and personal. That is why we design an individualized master treatment plan according to your needs. NP Addiction takes the stress of everyday life from your shoulders so that you get the time and space you need to recover and lead a life free from substance abuse.

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