Going to a detoxification or detox program is often necessary when a person is recovering from a severe addiction. These programs can help people to cope with drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms so they can move forward in their recovery journey. While completing detox is beneficial, it is not the only step required in the recovery process. Understanding the role and limitations of detox, as well as the reasons that additional treatment is warranted, is important for those looking to heal from addiction.

Why Detox Matters

Going through a detox program is critical for most people looking to recover from addiction, because of the side effects that can occur when someone abruptly stops using drugs. In fact, withdrawal is one of the symptoms of a substance use disorder, which is the clinical term for an addiction. This means that when someone who is addicted attempts to stop using drugs, they are likely to experience uncomfortable withdrawal side effects, which can lead them to take their substance of choice in order to relieve these symptoms. In the end, this makes it rather challenging to stop using drugs without some sort of medical intervention.

In a detox program, medical staff, such as nurses and doctors, provide supervision to individuals who are withdrawing from drugs and alcohol. Doctors can prescribe medications to relieve specific withdrawal symptoms, such as headache, sleep disturbances, or nausea, and nurses can provide care to keep patients as comfortable as possible as their bodies detox from drugs. In some cases, a detox program may be essential for a patient’s safety, as detoxing from alcohol can lead to a potentially fatal condition called delirium tremens, which requires immediate medical intervention.

The Next Steps After Detox

Some people may think that after they complete detox, they are permanently healed of their addiction, but this is often not the case. As the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) explains, detox is only the first step in the treatment process and is not enough to treat addiction on its own. Detox can help people to come off of drugs so that they can enter long-term addiction treatment, but without continuing treatment after detox, people are prone to relapsing. Entering a treatment program after detox is essential, to address the underlying issues, such as social and psychological problems, that led to addiction. Without addressing these problems, it is difficult to achieve lasting sobriety.

People may attempt to return to daily life after detox and avoid an ongoing rehab program, but this is unlikely to result in success. Many people find that they return to using drugs shortly after detox without the support of an ongoing treatment program. Detox programs are only intended to manage the uncomfortable and potentially dangerous side effects of drug and alcohol withdrawal, but they are not meant to treat the root causes of addiction.

Post-Detox Treatment Options

It’s critical to continue addiction treatment after detox, but there are a variety of options. For example, some people may transition into a residential program after detox, where they will live on-site and participate in a variety of interventions, such as individual and group counseling, educational programming, and support groups. People who have a safe and supportive living environment as well as the skills to remain sober while remaining in their home may choose an outpatient treatment program that allows them to maintain their regular routine of work and family life while attending appointments at a clinic.

Everyone’s specific treatment needs will vary, but what is most important is that you engage in ongoing treatment after detox. Keep in mind that a detox program only provides medical intervention to treat side effects that occur as the body cleanses itself of drugs or alcohol but does not offer any psychological intervention. In ongoing treatment, therapy can help you to overcome the issues that led to your addiction and increase your risk of relapse. For example, if you have an underlying mental health issue, like depression, that contributed to your addiction, therapy can help you to work through your emotions and find ways of coping without turning to drugs. Therapy can also help you to cope with issues like underlying trauma, feelings of loneliness, or unresolved grief that have contributed to substance abuse.

There are a variety of different therapies that are used in the treatment of addiction, and no one approach will work for everyone. Your treatment team will work alongside you to determine the best type of therapy to meet your needs. One type of intervention called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been found to be effective for treating a variety of addictions, including those to alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines. CBT can help people to change unhelpful behavioral patterns that have contributed to addiction.

Another counseling method, called the Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA), is a comprehensive outpatient program that addresses a variety of areas of life, such as family issues, job skills, and social support to help people recover from addiction. CRA programs typically involve counseling sessions that occur once or twice a week, and participants can receive rewards for having negative drug screens.

The bottom line is that you should absolutely go to treatment after detox. You are unlikely to achieve long-term abstinence from drugs or alcohol if you complete a detox program and do not follow up with additional addiction services.

For men seeking addiction treatment in the Los Angeles area, Ethos Recovery offers a sober living residence, where you will receive support from other men and work through a recovery program that includes 12-step meetings and house outings. Are you ready to change your life for the better? Contact Ethos Recovery today.