According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, more than 21.5 million Americans 12 years of age or older suffer from a substance use disorder. More over, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U nited States. These concerning statistics demonstrate that addiction is a national epidemic and supporting those on the road to recovery should be the highest priority.

Substance abuse can take many forms, be it alcohol, benzodiazepines, cocaine/crack, marijuana, opiates/heroin, polysubstance abuse, prescription drugs or stimulants/amphetamines. Each addiction comes with a host of complications when attempting to discontinue use of the substance. While the decision to seek detox treatment can be incredibly difficult for either the individual suffering from substance abuse or a concerned loved one, the right detox treatment program can make all the difference on the road to recovery.

After admitting that there is a problem and committing to seek treatment, finding the right place to detox and beginning the road to recovery is the next step. Detox is the process in which a patient removes the addictive substances and toxins from his or her system. When working through medically managed detox, medical professionals administer prescription medication to help a patient stop the use of addictive substances in an environment and manner that is safe and effective.

Attempting to quit an addiction to drugs or alcohol can be extremely difficult, and nearly impossible without the assistance of a detox center. Additionally, stopping the use of drugs and alcohol suddenly can quickly turn into a medically serious situation. Symptoms of withdrawal can include increased blood pressure, hallucinations, delirium and seizures, as well as a host of emotional and psychological disturbances. In addition to the physical symptoms, abruptly stopping the use of drugs or alcohol with out medical assistance will cause very intense cravings for the abused substance, making quitting that much more difficult. There are many quality detox facilities throughout the country, and those suffering from substance abuse have numerous resources to help them achieve sobriety and beat addiction.

Now more than ever, patients and loved ones have access to a great deal of information when it comes to making an informed choice about whether or not to check into a detox facility. Many addicts who have tried to quit their particular addiction on their own seek out detox centers when they have found their withdrawal symptoms too overwhelming to manage. In other cases, family members and loved ones will call an addiction hotline to get advice on the best course of action. Additionally, physicians and rehab facilities will refer patients to particular detox centers that will best serve the patient’s needs. With so many ways to learn about detox treatment resources, patients should be able to find a facility that works best for them.

There are many important factors that go into choosing the right detox for a particular patient: the length of the detox program, the types of medications used, the size of the facility, whether or not a facility is accredited by J CAHO ( The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) and what kind of clinical resources the center has at its disposal. Choosing a detox center that is affiliated or connected directly to a hospital allows the patients to have continuity of care should they need or seek more aggressive medical attention during treatment. The best detox centers will have a high-quality monitoring program, including a 24 -hour nursing staff available as well as a doctor who evaluates each patient on a daily basis. In detox treatment, the status of the patient can change dramatically from day to day and changes to medication may be necessary. As a result, a patient should be continually evaluated by a medical professional that is trained in addiction treatment. Additionally, providing a social worker can be key to helping patients with their life outside of the detox center.

Having a hospital connected to a detox facility enables medical staff to continue a detox program without interruption should a patient need specific medical attention. For example, a physician can order a chest x-ray and then continue with the detox treatment right after, rather than having to check a patient in and out of another hospital. Additionally, a smaller sized detox facility can lend itself to a more intimate, soothing environment. Cultivating these best practices has led more and more facilities to seek accreditation from J CAHO, which develops a standard of care for detox centers.

The detox process takes time and yet many facilities try to rush the treatment for insurance reasons. Completing the full course of the detox program is essential to mitigating the likelihood of relapse and falling back into old habits.
Whatever size, style or type of detox an individual ultimately selects, the most important thing is choosing one that works for the patient’s needs and provides the best care and comfort.

After completing a detox program, many patients feel that they can manage their addiction on their own. This common misconception can lead to relapse and thwart the effectiveness of the initial effort to detox. Addiction is a serious health issue, and like diabetes or high blood pressure, patients need ongoing care at different levels during the stages of their recovery. Oftentimes, people suffering from addiction also have co-morbidities such as depression or anxiety. It is crucial that patients take care of both issues simultaneously.

To truly be successful in beating addiction, patients need to enroll in a high-quality aftercare program. There are many different levels of rehab including inpatient and outpatient care as well as other treatment options. Other programs such as AA and NA can be helpful as well as continuing with therapy or counseling. Many detox centers offer aftercare or will refer patients to programs after they complete detox. Aftercare, along with the support of friends and family, will help to ensure that the patient changes the lifestyle that fostered addiction and maintains the good habits formed during the detox program.

Addiction is not shameful. It is a disease. When patients feel empowered to seek out the assistance of medical professionals, they have taken the first step to getting back to the life they deserve.

Dr. Raju Mangrola is an Addiction Psychiatrist and the Medical Director of the Lighthouse Detox at Jupiter Medical Center in Jupiter, Fl. For more information on Lighthouse Detox go to: