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Detox vs Rehab: What’s the Difference?

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Addiction can be one of the most difficult challenges to overcome and often requires physical, mental and emotional strength as well as a continued support system to help maintain your recovery. Yet hope and healing and a return to freedom are absolutely achievable and there are many resources available to help you in your journey. Two of these important resources are detoxification and rehabilitation programs, or more commonly known as detox and rehab. Many people think that these programs are the same and are not aware of the differences between each program or their individual strengths, and because of this, many are unsure how to choose the program that will be best for them. To provide additional understanding about detox and rehab programs and how they can benefit you or your loved one, this article will outline the basics of detox and rehab, discuss their individual strengths and limitations, and help you understand how to use both programs to make a full recovery.


Detox at a Glance

Detox is the process of ridding your body of the poisonous toxins that have entered your body from using your particular substance. Detox focuses primarily on the physical effects of addiction including the cleansing and detoxification of your physical body in order to begin the healing process. It allows the body to begin recovering from the damage that the addicting substance has caused and to begin to reduce its cravings for the substance as well.  The length of time and difficulty of detoxification will depend on the type of substance used and may also vary based on the individual as well.

Many different types of detox programs exist to try and tailor to your individual needs and circumstances.  Two of the most common types of detox include medically supervised detox or at home detoxification. Typically, the type of substance used, the length of time a person has been using, and the severity of addiction will determine whether or not you should choose medically supervised detox or if you can proceed with your detox process at home.

Medically supervised detox programs offer many benefits including the 24/7 care of medical personnel and a safe and comfortable environment free from distractions and negative influences.  Detoxing can be very dangerous because your body is dependent on the addictive substance and when that substance is no longer available the body will go through withdrawal symptoms that depending on the addictive substance, can range from mildly uncomfortable, to significantly painful and even severe or life threatening. For example, withdrawal symptoms for alcohol or benzoid addictions often tend to be the most severe and one article in the journal Alcohol Health and Research World reported that about 10 percent of people with alcoholism may have serious medical problems during withdrawal including the potential for seizures. Other substances such as opioids may have slightly less severe symptoms but detox from these substances may come with very severe cravings that are difficult to manage alone. Symptoms vary by individual and some may experience much less severe, but still uncomfortable and even painful symptoms such as nausea, hallucinations, anxiety, depression, sleep disruptions, and changes in heart rate or blood pressure.

Because of the potential difficulty of breaking your body’s dependency, having the supervision and support of medical personnel available can help you to manage your symptoms and the medical staff can provide constant care, nutritional support and even replacement medications as needed to help your body go through the detox process. However, if your addiction is less severe, or you have financial constraints or other concerns there are also at home alternatives available. These may be less costly, and will be most effective if you have good mental health, if you have broken all access to your addictive substance and any negative influences that may tempt you to use, and if you have a good team of family members, friends and other support people to help you through the process.

Generally, the detox process, and especially at a medical facility, will begin with an intake exam. You will usually meet with a physician who will assess your physical health in preparation for the detox. He may ask questions about your medical history and your history of using the addictive substance, take your vitals or potentially blood work, and will then help you put together a customized treatment plan for you.

The time frame for the detox process will also vary person to person and based on the substance used. For many people, withdrawal symptoms can begin anywhere from a few hours to 24 hours from the last use and symptoms can peak anywhere from 24 to 72 hours following. Most detox programs last between 3 to 7 days and the length of time will be based on the individual and substance. Some substances can clear your body’s systems faster than others. If a person is addicted to more than one substance the detox process may take longer to ensure that the body is completely free of all substances.


In short, detox is a process that is definitely unique to each individual and is an important step in addiction recovery in order to start with a foundation of a body free from harmful substances and ready to begin a new life.


Rehab at a Glance

Rehab is an addiction recovery program that aims to combat the psychological and emotional effects of addition. The goal of rehab is to treat the underlying factors that may have caused the addiction in the first place and to help replace negative habits with better habits and coping skills to allow you to maintain your addiction recovery and thrive. Addictions affect the mind, body and spirit and many rehab programs seek to heal all three of these elements to help a person regain total wellness.

Most rehab programs occur in a residential treatment facility, however some outpatient options are available as well. Treatment in a residential facility is more rigorous in that a patient will live at the treatment center 24/7, however, these types of programs have also been found to contribute to a higher success rate in overcoming addiction due to the complete investment in the recovery process.

Programs typically include a variety of treatments and therapies and a good program should focus on evidence-based therapies to provide the best treatment possible to patients. Programs may include individual and group therapies, family counseling and classes, instruction on coping skills and communication skills in order to repair broken relationships and manage stress more effectively. Many programs also offer different types of exercise programs or exposure to arts to provide variety and aid in recovery.

Most rehab programs last between 30 to 90 days with studies showing that the longer a person is fully dedicated to rehab the more likely they are to avoid relapse. The length of your stay will vary based upon the severity of your addiction and your commitment to the rehab process and your willingness to learn and grow.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and many others have shown that people who complete drug rehab are more likely to achieve and maintain sobriety. Because the goal of rehab is to address the underlying causes of the addiction and help individuals develop new habits and ways of thinking about themselves and the world, rehab is an incredibly important part of a complete recovery.


Strengths & Weaknesses: Detox vs. Rehab

As you can see, detox and rehab programs are different and focus on different objectives in the recovery process. Each program has its own strengths and limitations and many have found that the combination of both leads to the most effective treatment.

Detox programs are very effective at addressing the physical aspects of addiction and in breaking the body’s dependency on the substance. However, detox may not address the psychological or emotional consequences of addiction, nor will it necessarily address any of the underlying factors that caused the addiction including negative patterns of thought, behavior, poor stress management or relationship problems and many other factors. If these factors are not addressed a person may be at risk for continual relapse and feelings of hopelessness and failure. Detox is a great way to build a foundation for a clean recovery, but may not be the only solution for your needs.

Rehab also has its strengths including the holistic approach of focusing on healing the total person (mind, body, spirit, holistic wellness). However, rehab may not be the best choice for everyone. Rehab can be very costly and difficult for those with financial constraints and for less severe addictions choosing a detox only route may be the best solution provided the person has a good support system in place. Rehab also takes a lot of time and participating in an in-patient rehab program can put a person away from work, family and other commitments for an extended period of time. For some this may not be possible or may put too much strain on their life and an outpatient program may be the best alternative.


A Combined Path

As mentioned above, most people have found that a combined path of detox and rehab treatments is most effective in helping them overcome addition and maintain their recovery. The two types of treatment work together to help you overcome addiction physically, mentally, emotionally and even contribute to greater outcomes socially and in repairing relationships. Cleansing the body through detox followed by a rehab to help you learn new ways of being can help you start with a clean slate and build on the foundation of your experiences towards an even brighter and more hopeful future.


Choosing the Right Program for You

Each person’s journey is unique and many factors will go into choosing the right program for your needs. It may be helpful to start by making a list of your needs and what is most important to you in a treatment program. Factors such as location, length of time, the types of treatments offered, and training of staff will be important considerations for either detox, rehab or both. The options for after-care may be another important thing to look at as well.

The cost of the program and financial concerns will be a very important factor and you will want to make sure that any program you choose has options for your insurance or a payment plan that will work with your situation. However, living a clean and thriving life will be well worth the monetary cost and there are financing options available. Consider talking on the phone with many treatment facilities and visit their websites to learn more about different facilities and programs to find what will work best for you.


About Hope Rising Detox

At Hope Rising Detox we want to help you in your journey to recovery. We know that detox can be painful physically and emotionally and we want to minimize those side effects through offering a home like environment with high quality staff to assist you in your recovery. We are located in the beautiful area of southern Utah, availing patients an opportunity to go through the detox process while having access to engaging activities such as hiking, paddle boarding, yoga and much more. We also will make sure to tailor our treatment plan to your individual needs. Detox does not have to be scary and we want your detox process to be as painless and effective as possible to help you begin your journey to recovery.

For more information on how Hope Rising Detox and Rehab can help you in your journey to recovery, please give us a call at 435-632-3335 or visit our website to learn more about our facility and our team.

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