Is Medical or Social Detox more effective?
One-size-fits all works well for many things. It's convenient when measurements aren't required for fitting. However, when it comes to detoxing from substance abuse, medical assessment and treatment planning is paramount. One size does not fit all. Detoxification, the period when substance is purged from the body, is always the first step in the recovery process. It is also one of the most critical. It is in this timeframe when a patient is most likely to experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. It is also for this reason that "cold turkey" methods can lead to overdose.
There are two categories of detoxification methods: Social model detox and medical detox. Is one more effective than the other? It is important to examine each model before arriving to an answer.
First, social model detox involves careful monitoring of the patient through a residential inpatient setting. The patient is not administered medication, but is assisted through the detox process with counseling and therapy. It can be effective in instances when life-threatening withdrawal symptoms are not an issue.
Conversely, medical detox is detoxification combined with medical care - it often occurs in a hospital setting. Medical personnel carefully monitor and supervise the patient in this process, administering medication to assist in the withdrawal process. It can be costly, but it is safe and scientific. Both methods must involve careful monitoring and therapy to be effective. With medical detox, it is guaranteed - a medical professional monitors the process throughout, in a hospital setting. The pain and risks associated with withdrawal are eased.
Each case is treated differently. Each treatment plan is catered to the individual. Social model detoxification is not always as regimented. Social model detox as described above can be successful - and compared to medical detox, highly cost-effective.
However, the pitfalls lie in the interpretation. Not all facilities have the same idea of what social detox is. Some believe that social detox can be successful in an outpatient setting, in which the patient makes checkup visits, while essentially dealing with withdrawal on his or her own. Depending on the length of time and level of substance abuse, this method can be a recipe for death. It may mean life-threatening withdrawal.
Similarly, lack of 24/7 monitoring often means higher risk of relapse, and overdose. When deciding what the best method of detox, many factors are at play - level of dependency, cost, type of substance - just to name a few. It is recommended to seek consultation from a medical professional - one who is licensed in addiction medicine, when beginning this process. Whether social model or medical detoxification is recommended, it is important to remember that 24/7 monitoring and supervision is important.
Detoxification should never be handled outside of an inpatient or hospital setting. When it comes to detoxification, one size does not fit all, but that does not mean the patient should have take his or her own measurements. Each plan should be tailored by a medical professional.