Why Detox Alone Is Usually Insufficient for Addiction
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
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.