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Articles > Drug Rehab and Detox Programs Explained - A Simple & Easy Description of Many Different Programs


What's the difference between one rehab program and another? Which drug and alcohol detox and rehab program should you or a loved one go to? Do you know the different types or models of recovery?

Here is a summary of the different approaches to detox and rehab that I am familiar with after working in the field of drug abuse for 8 years as a drug rehab consultant and drug prevention specialist.

Medical Detox

Medical detox is the use of medications, such as benzodiazepines, clonidine, suboxone, etc, to more smoothly withdraw someone from alcohol, methadone, opiates or other drugs of abuse. Approved medical facilities and medical doctors and staff are required to administer the various treatments to assist with difficult or otherwise long withdrawals from these drugs.

Some medical detox facilities use a combination of medical and natural / holistic approaches to detox. These methods generally speed recovery time and comfort through withdrawal according to client testimonials.

Non-Medical Detox

This might mean withdrawing someone from drugs without medication. Non-medical detox is sometimes more effective than medical detox as a drug abuser is sick of using drugs and is highly averse to any more drugs going into their bodies. Non-medical detox may mean the highly skilled use of alternative nutrients, sometimes IV's and natural therapy's to assist a person to more comfortably withdrawal and detox from drugs / pharmaceuticals and correct brain function. (Agora Regeneration Clinics Ltd)

Some medical and non-medical detox is highly sophisticated and involves many testing and evaluation protocols not used by traditional medical detox centers. IE nutrient, vitamin and allergy testing to name only a few.

Bio-Physical Detox

Drug residuals have been found to get lodged in the fatty tissues of the body. This includes the brain, kidney, liver, muscles as well as the fat. Former drug abusers sometimes relapse back to using drugs due to physical cravings for the drugs which they say doesn't go away after medical detox or rehab.

Bio-physical Detox involves a total and full detoxification requiring weeks or months of natural detox methods like extensive sauna baths, vitamin and nutritional supplementation, intensive exercise, proper rest, improving diet, drinking lots of water, etc.

Some Bio-physical Detox has been given extensive scientific testing and proven itself under many different populations - drug addicts; hazardous chemical / gas victims (fire fighters, pesticides / herbicides -- DDT; mental / spiritual betterment, health improvement. (see Townsend Letter Apr 2006 #273)

Traditional & 12 Step Rehab Methods

Traditional and 12 Step models comprise about 95% of the rehab facility programs in the US and Canada. Their successes vary massively depending on the center and how the center defines success. One center can vary greatly from another in terms of professionalism, care and results.

12 Step programs attempt to intervene between the decisions to abuse drugs and desires to stay clean. A drug addict or alcoholic have been solving life's problems with a fix, drink, hit, or other drugs. 12 Step methods use sponsors, meetings, actions, education, etc techniques to stop further drug abuse. 12 Step programs also resemble social educational programs from step 4 onward, as a personal responsibility in ones recovery is expected of a 12 stepper. 12 Step includes principals of spiritual connection through-out the process.

Medical / psychological programs use different drugs and counselors in their intervention efforts. Usually medical programs are either trying to make a client more comfortable while in rehab or they have actually done some extensive testing to find underlying medical problems which could by spurring the substance abuser to use drugs. A typical example is hypo-thyroid conditions. Psychological approaches either attempt to correct aberrant behavior through adjusting the thinking of the client. It may involve on-going counseling for in-determinant amounts of time after a stay in rehab is completed.

Sometimes drugs that create aversion to drinking are used as with Schick Shadel programs. Other substitute drugs like methadone for opiate abuse and Ritalin for cocaine / meth abuse have been used by many program models.

Non-Traditional Rehab Methods

Social Educational or learning models focus on improving abilities and increasing self control or will power through enlightenment or cognitive realization. Combinations of study, exercise, counseling and practical application of processes are applied to bring about desired states of being. Often a type of therapeutic community is established due to the camaraderie of clients assisting each other through the tough times of their recovery.

As social educational programs are my forte, I will list the specific programs I am familiar with along with their posted success rates.

Jude Thaddeus Program (JT), or St. Jude's is a social/educational approach rather than a medical/psychological methodology putting control over one's recovery in their own hands rather than a doctor, psychologist, or group. JT provides an opportunity to permanently recover, because JT believe's it is a choice - not a disease. JT's success rate for 12 years is over 68%. (Ref: St. Jude Retreat House)

Rational Recovery or RR, has a different approach than traditional or 12 Step methods. RR labels different behaviors and parts of a mind model to get a person to recover through cognitive or increased awareness and control over their addictions. Focus is on self-recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs through planned, permanent abstinence through greater self awareness / control. (Ref: Jack Trimpey, Founder RR)

Narconon (NN) Drug Rehabilitation is a drug-free all natural social educational approach to ending addiction. Narconon considers clients as students who are not trying to recover from an illness. NN students enroll to learn something that they didn't already know. NN addresses the disabilities caused by drug abuse with new abilities, new skills for effective living. Narconon posts success rates averaging 75% Narconon uses the non-medical detox & Bio-physical method of detoxification. (Narconon: An Overview Of Results).
Do you still have questions about which detox and rehab programs would be best for your loved one?

Go to: Different Rehabs Compared

Tibor A. Palatinus, CCDC, is the Director of a Drug / Alcohol Detox and Rehab Consultancy which specializes in Referring Clients to Drug-free Detox and Rehab Programs which End Addiction for Life.


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