Why Detox Alone Is Usually Insufficient for Addiction

  • Added:
    Jul 28, 2014
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Why Detox Alone Is Usually Insufficient for Addiction Photo by Colin Armstrong

Every year UK taxpayers fund NHS rehab centres at a rate of millions of pounds. Yet these facilities tend to be equipped with revolving doors, so to speak, as addicts continually come and go in a never-ending cycle of detox, relapse and detox again. Something is clearly not working.

An unbiased study of the evidence shows that one of our biggest problems is our view of detox. For too many policy makers, the belief that a 7 to 10-day detox programme is all that is required to overcome addiction is prevalent. However, reality bites. The truth is that detox alone is usually insufficient for complete recovery from addiction.

It is not enough to simply break a physical addiction through detox. It is even worse to condemn addicts to a lifetime of substitute medications under the guise of providing 'ongoing outpatient detox'. In order to conquer their demons once and for all, recovering addicts need to undergo comprehensive treatment at alcohol and drug rehab clinics specialising in addiction recovery.

Mind and Body

The very real problem of addiction is not just a physical one. It is also mental and emotional. When recovery focuses on detox only, all we are doing is dealing with the physical aspects of the problem. Then the recovering addict returns right back to the same life and circumstances that enabled his addiction to begin with. It is no wonder the rates of relapse among detox-only patients are astronomical.

On the other hand, treatments that also address the psychological aspects of addiction tend to be more successful. Take those private rehab centers that combine detox with psychotherapeutic treatments as an example. They start treatment by breaking the physical addiction, and then follow up by addressing the mental and emotional aspects.

Retraining the Mind

Why is psychotherapeutic treatment necessary? Because abusing drugs and alcohol alters the way the brain works. Addicts tend to have trouble thinking rationally about their substance abuse and the root causes of their misery. Without retraining the mind to think rationally, those incorrect thoughts and attitudes will continue. The first sign of any sort of pressure will likely result in relapse.

Combined detox and psychotherapeutic treatments do not work for everyone, especially among recovering addicts who do not genuinely want to recover completely. However, the combined treatments do far better than detox alone. They are a better option because they address addiction from every angle, rather than treating the problem as just a physical one.

Clearly, spending millions of pounds on programmes that focus only on detox is not accomplishing the results we are looking for. Yet we have been cutting funding for private rehab centers for a number of years. It is time we reverse that trend in the UK.

Author's Profile

Rehab-Clinic.com is a UK organisation devoted to assisting those who need help with alcohol or drug rehab. Their services make it possible for addicts and their families to easily locate and gain admission to rehab clinics around the country.


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