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Drug Rehab vs. Detox: What is the Difference?

detox and rehab center in connecticut

Rehab and detox are two types of treatment that play an important role in a person’s recovery from addiction. Find out whether detox or rehab—or both—should be a part of your treatment plan.

Substance use disorders (SUDs) happen after regular or repeated substance abuse. As drugs are used over a period of time, a person’s body can become reliant on those drugs to function. Physiological changes take place within the brain, disrupting a user’s ability to carry out common day-to-day tasks without the crutch of drugs. When this happens, a person feels compelled to continue using, despite the spiraling, negative effects that these drugs have caused. This is what many of us know as addiction.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, you may be considering seeking help. Professional intervention and treatment are critical to the recovery process. Drug abuse alters the brain’s structure and function, but there are professionals trained to help you heal and overcome these negative effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, professional treatment enables most people to “stop using drugs, decrease their criminal activity, and improve their occupational, social, and psychological functioning.” Of course, this depends on the level and type of treatment obtained.

While researching your options and the types of substance abuse treatment available, you may have come across the question of “detox vs. rehab.” Detox and rehab are two forms of treatment that are significantly different from one another. While some people wish to choose one over the other, both detox and rehab are essential in treating substance addiction. Below, we break it all down.

What is Detox?

Detox is short for “detoxification,” or the process by which the body clears itself of drugs. Through detox, the body purges itself of the harsh toxins and chemicals it was once reliant on. When drugs and alcohol are removed from the body, it enables a person to start on their road to abstinence and recovery, drug-free. Therefore, detoxification is often considered “the first stage of treatment.” 

Detoxification can be dangerous when done “cold turkey,” so medical intervention or a dedicated detox center is typically recommended. When done in a professional setting, detoxification can help manage the acute withdrawal symptoms, and prevent potentially dangerous effects, associated with stopping drug use. Medications may be utilized to alleviate the difficult symptoms of withdrawal, as well, in a professional setting. 

As noted above, when a person is struggling with addiction, their body becomes reliant on the drugs to function. When drugs are removed from their body after long-time and repeated use, it goes into a state of withdrawal. Acute withdrawal symptoms can be painful, demanding and, without professional help, can lead back to drug abuse. For this reason, a detox center is recommended to help users safely navigate through this initial phase of recovery.

Detoxification plays a critical role in the recovery process. It gives the body a clean slate, without the drugs or alcohol its been dependent on, and ensures a person is physically stable. From there, the emotional and the mental work of recovery can begin – in therapy or a rehab center. This is another essential step towards a successful recovery from addiction.

As noted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Detoxification alone does not address the psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with addiction and therefore does not typically produce lasting behavioral changes necessary for recovery. Detoxification should thus be followed by a formal assessment and referral to drug addiction treatment.”

What is Drug Rehab?

Rehab is short for “rehabilitation,” which describes the process of restoring one’s health through treatment or therapy. Drug rehab, therefore, refers to the treatment needed to overcome drug abuse and establish healthy way of living. Rehab can also encompass the therapy needed to heal from the mental and physical detriments that can occur alongside substance addiction. 

Drug rehab is synonymous with phrases like “drug treatment” and “recovery center.” At minimum, these facilities are intended to help people stop seeking and using drugs compulsively. The best rehab centers, however, work hard to help people break free of the addiction cycle, learn the skills needed to live without drugs and alcohol, and to become the best and most healthy versions of themselves. 

There are many types of rehab centers, however. There are residential and outpatient facilities. There are long-term and short-term rehab programs. There are also different modalities used within different rehab centers. However, when drug rehab is recommended by a professional, it usually implies a rehab that offers:

  • Long-term and extended care programs for clients (at least 90 days is recommended, though longer stays are associated with better treatment outcomes)
  • Residences for clients to live, should they need a safe space to heal
  • A variety of evidence-based therapies, tailored to each individual’s needs
  • Multiple interventions and episodes of treatment
  • Ongoing care services and support for clients
  • Regular monitoring of clients, through residences or sober living homes

These checkpoints are just the beginning of ways to differentiate detox vs. rehab programs. While detox is essential in terms of starting the recovery process, and safely setting a person up for success, rehab is the process of ensuring they are restored, revived, and readied to take on a drug-free life, long-term.

At Turnbridge, the goal of our rehab programs is to help clients emerge from their prior state of being, and become the healthiest, happiest, and most productive versions of themselves. We help them move forward and achieve their goals, whether that’s accomplishing a year of sobriety, establishing an exercise routine, learning how to meditate, re-building relationships with family, going to school, maintaining a successful job, or finding self-love and acceptance. Our rehab program teaches clients the skills they need to reach their goals and live a life drug-free, and our extended care programs are always there for support, if and when they need it. That is what makes a great rehab so unique.

Detox vs. Rehab: A Summary

Detox refers to the medical intervention process that enables the body to clear itself of drugs. Rehab, on the other hand, refers to an extended period of treatment where a person learns to overcome addiction and live a productive, sober life.

Detoxification is the first stage of the recovery process. But recovery is a life-long journey. While detox is an essential step to get the journey going, drug rehab is the step that really sets the stage for a life of sobriety and success. So, as the National Institute of Drug Abuse suggests, detox and rehab coupled together can help pave the way for a person’s recovery. An article from WebMD reflects this sentiment, as well, stating: “There is a difference between detox and rehabilitation, but both are essential to the journey of lasting recovery.”

If you have completed detoxification and are ready to take the next step, Turnbridge is here for you. Learn about the rehab and extended care programs at Turnbridge by calling 877-581-1793 today.