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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

An Integrative Approach to Medical Detox: Supervised medical detox with a holistic focus can generate better results, says Sarah Dodson

May 31, 2015 01:39PM ● By Sarah Dodson

Medical detoxification is offered in both outpatient and inpatient facilities, at mental health centers, addiction clinics, private clinics, hospitals and residential treatment centers. The sole purpose of detox is to stop the physical dependence on a given substance so that the person with an addiction can begin a treatment program. Withdrawal symptoms are controlled in a medically supervised setting, reducing the risk of serious complications. Although there are some variations between detox programs, most include three stages: the evaluation of the patient, stabilizing the patient and guiding the patient into a treatment program.

Though medical detox is nothing new, it has made advances over the years. Just as the approach to treating drug and alcohol addiction has been adjusted, the detox process has also been fine-tuned. Where detox has fallen short in years past is that it is focused on getting addicts clean in the shortest amount of time, and then releasing them, in the hope that they will pursue treatment elsewhere. Unfortunately, recently detoxed addicts could wait weeks or months to get into a treatment program, and by then it’s often too late.

Integrative treatment centers are changing the detox process for the better by providing supervised medical detox with a holistic focus. Patients often receive a full assessment prior to being admitted and their treatment protocol is more individualized, based on the drug they are addicted to, how much of the drug they are abusing and how long the addiction has been active. Patients typically stay an average of five to 10 days and are medically supervised around the clock by licensed physicians and licensed therapists.

Throughout the detoxification process, patients are made comfortable using a combination of conventional medicine and holistic therapies. Common withdrawal side effects such as nausea, difficulty sleeping and muscle pain are treated using traditional medicine, while holistic therapies such as acupuncture, physical manipulation, massage therapy, vitamin B12 shots, meditation, light exercise and counseling make detox more pleasant.

One winning combination is the use of dry sauna detox and vitamin therapy. Toxins are expelled through the body using dry saunas and essential nutrients are replaced using oral and intravenous vitamin therapy. By the time patients have completed detox, they are no longer physically dependent on drugs or alcohol. They are instead physically, mentally and spiritually able to commit their time and energy to treatment and explore the social and psychological factors that often intermingle with addiction.

Detox is not intended to be a painful, brutal process. Nor is it to be feared or avoided. It is the primary stepping stone in the road to recovery, and can be comfortable, even enjoyable, thanks to the combination of conventional medicine and holistic therapies. By choosing a detox facility that offers an integrative approach and provides individual detox plans suited to the individual, recovery is put within reach and given a higher chance of success than ever before.

Sarah Dodson is marketing director at The River Source, a holistic drug and alcohol treatment center in Mesa. For more information, visit or phone 866-577-1861.

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