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What to Do If Detox Doesn’t Work

Various roadblocks stop many people from getting treatment for a substance use disorder. Cost, a readiness to change, or feeling afraid or embarrassed are just a few. While compulsory treatment has been shown effective in some cases, it may not always work. 

When someone enters into treatment, they must be ready to change their lives. If they are not prepared to make progress, it’s likely that detox and addiction treatment will not work. 

For many years, battling addiction was viewed as a sign of weakness or lack of self-control. In recent times, addiction has been studied and diagnosed as a disease, a widely held view in the medical community. The stigma and shame of addiction of people with substance use disorders are enough to keep them from getting treatment. 

Fortunately, there has been a significant effort to educate the masses about addiction and reduce the stigma attached. 

Someone struggling with addiction has an impaired ability to stop using alcohol or drugs due to a deficit in the function of the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in executive function. The prefrontal cortex has an important job in delaying reward, self-monitoring, and integrating what the libido is telling you. Those struggling with the disease have difficulty abstaining from drugs or alcohol without the right treatment.

Detox is a critical phase of the treatment process, but it will not give the addicted individual the essential tools to abstain from drugs or alcohol long-term. In some cases, detox will not work, so what can you do if detox fails?

How Effective Is Drug Addiction Treatment?

The goal of treatment is beyond drug and alcohol abstinence. The purpose is to return individuals to productive functioning in the family, workplace, and the community. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shares research that individuals who receive treatment for an extended period not only stop using drugs, but they decrease criminal activity and improve their social, occupational, and psychological functioning. Relapse rates, however, resemble those of other chronic diseases such as hypertension, asthma, and diabetes. 

Addiction can be managed, but what is there to do if the first step, detox, doesn’t work?

What to Do If Detox Doesn’t Work

If you’ve relapsed after detox, you must not give up on your recovery. Keep in mind that addiction is a disease, and sometimes while you may want to get sober, it can feel impossible. However, it is within reach.

Detox is important because It allows you to clear your body of drugs or alcohol safely in a setting where there is access to medical professionals and medication. While it can help deliver you to the other side sober in three to seven days, it will not help you learn about the underlying factors that often contribute to addiction. 

There are no failures in life, just lessons, and if you’ve come up short and detox did not work, you must try again. When you complete your stay in detox, you must work with the clinicians to help you get into the proper treatment setting for you. In cases where the addiction is severe, an extended stay in residential treatment might be the best fit. 

Since you have a history of relapse, the best option will be an on-site treatment center where you will take part in therapy sessions geared toward helping you abstain from drugs and alcohol and integrating back into society.

Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). How effective is drug addiction treatment? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

Bierer, M. (2017, July 25). Is addiction a "brain disease"? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/is-addiction-a-brain-disease-201603119260

Werb, D., Kamarulzaman, A., Meacham, M. C., Rafful, C., Fischer, B., Strathdee, S. A., & Wood, E. (2016, February). The effectiveness of compulsory drug treatment: A systematic review. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4752879/

Rapp, R. C., Xu, J., Carr, C. A., Lane, D. T., Wang, J., & Carlson, R. (2006, April). Treatment barriers identified by substance abusers assessed at a centralized intake unit. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1986793/

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