We can say that a detoxification is the process of withdrawal of a psychoactive substance, usually a drug, which is carried out safely and effectively under the supervision of healthcare professionals. It is common for the person to have withdrawal symptoms at the beginning of this process; in some cases medication is required. Detoxification is carried out in hospital detoxification units or in those centers with the necessary human resources and infrastructure.
The hospital detox unit
Not everyone who needs a detox needs to go to a hospital detox unit. Let us remember that there are drugs such as cocaine or cannabis that hardly produce physical withdrawal symptoms when their consumption ceases, on the other hand, alcohol, heroin or benzodiazepines do have a marked physical component in their withdrawal syndrome, and can be fatal as in the case of delirium tremens. In conclusion, this type of site is needed when the substance has a very physical withdrawal syndrome or this can lead to worsening or decompensation of other illnesses that the person has. A typical example would be someone with alcohol problems and epilepsy.
What are they expected to do in the hospital detox unit? These units are normally integrated into the psychiatric services of the hospitals. The first step is to go there when the admission has been scheduled. From the outset, the person will be evaluated by a doctor -psychiatrist, internist or both- to make a global analysis of the case, medical history, request medical tests if necessary and prescribe pharmacological treatment to reduce the withdrawal syndrome.
The average duration of a hospital detox is usually 14 days, in some cases it will take more time
It is important to make the person aware of where they are going and the characteristics of the site. Being a hospital floor, you have to wear pajamas, not street clothes. You cannot smoke, visits are limited and you cannot go outside. You will normally be seen once a day by your referring doctor; He will ask you how you are physically and psychologically in order to adjust the treatment if necessary. Sometimes, the person may be very nervous, with many desires to consume or have some complication derived from a worsening of any of their diseases; in these cases the doctor intervenes by taking the necessary measures to safeguard the physical and mental integrity of his patient.
Detoxification in a hospital is only part of the treatment; It is important that the professionals who have cared for the person during the process motivate them to continue treatment, either at an outpatient or residential level, to consolidate being drug-free and develop the necessary tools to try to avoid relapses. At discharge, patients usually leave with prescribed medication.