Preparing for Detox: Setting Expectations

January 18, 2023

Written By: Buena Vista Recovery

Detox is often the first step in each individual’s journey to sobriety. However, committing to this first step can be exceptionally difficult, with personal barriers and uncertainties that need to be overcome. Understanding the necessity of professional detox and what to expect can help each individual pursuing a sober future begin their transformative journey. Detox will always be a trying time, but it also provides physical and psychological support that is necessary to overcome substance use disorder (SUD) and rebuild a healthy, sober life. 

What Is Detox?

Detox is the process of ridding the body of remnants of alcohol and other drugs. Before an individual can truly embrace treatment and all it has to offer, each person must first cease the active use of addictive substances. Detox is the time when an individual can safely expel addictive substances from their body, preparing each individual to embrace new coping strategies, perspectives, and therapeutic opportunities with a sober mindset. 

This initial phase of addiction treatment also ensures that an individual is beginning their recovery journey with the most support possible. Trying emotional states and withdrawal symptoms are all common upon the cessation of addictive substances. Professional detox programs are instrumental in providing the best education and resources to challenge withdrawal and address any underlying factors that may inform the use of addictive substances, such as mental health disorders or trauma. 

Why Professional Detox Is Necessary

It is common for many looking to begin their sober journey to wonder if professional detox programs are necessary. Further, many may entertain the idea of detoxing in their own home. For some, this may be due to concerns about costs. Others may not yet feel emotionally prepared to commit to an addiction recovery facility, feeling that it would somehow announce their challenges with addiction in a more public forum. However, professional detox programs are necessary for effectively establishing sobriety for several reasons.

First, detox is about more than immediately ceasing the use of addictive substances. Some individuals may live in spaces or be a part of social groups that do not understand the need for treatment and recovery, while others may find themselves in stressful home environments or still adhering to routines established while using drugs or alcohol. Without being able to separate a developing sober lifestyle from past practices, stresses, anxieties, and more, it can be difficult to embrace a transformed sober lifestyle. 

Additionally, withdrawal symptoms can also be exceptionally difficult to process. Without professional resources, education, and support, relapse can be exceptionally common in the face of such intense experiences, especially with at-home detox. Some may compromise their sobriety in an attempt to cease these withdrawal symptoms, even if they know it would go against their goals. 

Professional detox provides not just a safe place for detox but also a supportive environment, educated staff, and necessary resources such as emotional therapies or medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to ensure that each person has the best resources to sustain long-lasting sobriety.

How Long Does Detox Last?

Detox programs will form differently for each individual, depending on their unique needs. For some, detox can help an individual safely process and expel addictive substances quickly, transitioning out of detox in as little as two days. However, other programs can take longer, lasting up to 10 days, depending on the intensity of withdrawal symptoms or the presence of mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. 

Detox may also take longer if additional complexities arise, such as tremors, nightmares, or delirium tremens (DT). Dedicated medical detox programs can also affect how long one will remain in detox, with some medical approaches being necessary to address particular symptoms of withdrawal.

Detox does not mark the end of an individual’s recovery journey. Rather, it marks the beginning of a sober life as an individual transitions into a long-term treatment program. From dedicated residential treatment to intensive outpatient care, recovery is an ongoing process, with detox being just the first step in the lifelong journey. 

Setting Expectations for Detox

Detox is a major step towards sobriety that should be celebrated. However, it is still important to set appropriate expectations for detox. Addiction is a disease that can affect an individual for years, and expecting oneself to be able to navigate urges and cravings while establishing a completely new, sober life only in detox is unfair. 

Setting appropriate goals in detox is essential for maintaining motivation throughout this time. Goals, such as trying one new strategy a day or going 24 hours without drinking or using drugs, can help each individual take detox one day at a time. 

Likewise, an individual should expect to spend much of their days focusing wholly on these sober efforts. While some time for self-care will be provided, each person’s time in detox will be highly structured. An individual will also only have to bring clothes or other necessities to a detox facility, with healthy food, structured therapies, and individualized medical sessions provided throughout each day. 

While luxurious detox facilities provide several advantages for those navigating detox, these programs are not vacations. Each person should still expect to be engaging with active and proven therapeutic outlets and discuss their progress with professionals. 

Lastly, it is common to expect some degree of uncertainty throughout detox. New stresses may arise, and new challenges may be uncovered as a person ceases their use of drugs and alcohol. Being prepared to pivot recovery strategies, adjust time in detox to address these challenges, and talk honestly with professionals are all necessary for a healthy and effective beginning to each person’s sober journey. 

Detox is just the beginning of your recovery journey, and we at Buena Vista Recovery are committed to helping you navigate detox and transition to further forms of care depending on your personal needs and goals. We understand the complex nature of addiction recovery. We believe that engaging in a comprehensive continuum of care alongside a supportive atmosphere, understanding peers, and trained professionals is necessary to challenge and overcome the effects of addiction in your life. From medical detox to inpatient and continued outpatient support, along with a comprehensive set of effective therapies, we are prepared to create a recovery program that is right for you. To learn more, call to speak to us today at (480) 741-9414.