Social Detox: Is It Effective?

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Social detox rejects the use of medications in the withdrawal process. The treatment method leans into social support, providing individual therapy, group recovery programs, and family counseling.

Social Detox For Addiction Treatment

For some people, social model detoxification, otherwise known as social detox, is an effective detox method when in addiction treatment.

While many drug and alcohol detoxification programs use medications, social detox relies on therapy and emotional support to help a person come off substances.

This treatment method is used at a number of rehab facilities throughout the U.S. and can be useful for some people in recovery, but not for all.

The Effectiveness Of Social Detox Programs

To determine the effectiveness of social detoxification, it’s important to consider the value of social support in long-term recovery.

According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), social support is instrumental in treatment retention and long-term recovery.

The study found that the more social support a person has — including friends, peers in recovery, and family — the more likely they are to enter treatment and prevent relapse.

Social detoxification programs use individual, group, and family therapy methods to build this support and increase their clients’ chances of remaining sober post-treatment.

Social Detox Vs. Medical Detox

In a medical detox program, you or your loved one will detox in a hospital-like setting equipped with medications, nurses, doctors, and medical equipment.

This type of detox is typically needed for people who have been drinking heavily or using a high level of strong substances who will experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms without medications.

Social detox does not involve the use of any medical assistance. Instead, a person coming off a substance will detox naturally with social support, therapy, and emotional guidance.

The social model of detoxification is effective for those not in need of medical assistance.

The Benefits Of A Social Detox Program Model

Social detoxification can be very effective for a range of clients, including those who have tried medical detox and other proven treatment methods and are looking for alternatives.

Here are a few of the top benefits of social detox programs:

  • Stigma reduction: Social detox programs may replace “patient” with other names, such as “client” or “participant.”
  • Mental health: In a social detox program, the emphasis is on social support and mental wellbeing, as services are provided in a supportive non-hospital environment.
  • Peer recovery: Time spent in hospital beds and clinical appointments are replaced with more time spent in peer recovery groups, group therapy, and more.
  • Non-medicated approach: Not everyone needs, or is comfortable with, detoxing with medications. Social detox provides a holistic, medication-free alternative.

Effective Forms Of Social Detoxification Programs

You can see social detoxification models used in several treatment settings, including inpatient and outpatient programs for addiction recovery.

The most common form of non-medical social detoxification is found in residential or inpatient treatment programs.

In a residential treatment setting, clients typically have individual and group therapy sessions, participate in daily treatment programs, receive addiction education, and more.

However, not all social detox programs are inpatient. You can also find outpatient programs that use similar methods of group therapy and education at varying levels of care.

No matter the level of care, the principle of treatment remains the same: social detox programs provide a non-medical place to separate a person from a substance of abuse, relying on social support.

Is Social Detoxification Safe?

When used correctly, social detox is a safe way to come off substances. Detoxing at home can come with risks, so choosing a social detox method is a safe alternative.

However, it’s important to consider a few factors when deciding between a medical and social detox program.

Social detox might be safe for people who:

  • do not have a life-threatening condition
  • do not have serious co-occurring disorders
  • have been using a lower level of drugs or alcohol

Social detox is not always safe for those who will experience extremely uncomfortable or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

For people overcoming heavy prescription drug use or addiction to opioids such as heroin, it’s best to detox in a medical setting with medications that can ease the process of withdrawal.

When Medication May Be Used In A Social Detox Program

Some exceptions may be made to the non-medical social detox model when necessary.

For example, some treatment centers do provide some medication assistance at a lower level or accept clients who are already receiving medication-assisted treatment.

In case of emergency, all social detox programs should have a connection with a medical facility if a client experiences life-threatening effects from substance withdrawal.

After receiving necessary medical care, the client may then be returned to the social detoxification program for further treatment in a non-medical setting.

Find The Right Detox Program For You

You or your loved one can start the journey toward recovery by exploring social detox and other detox programs for drug and alcohol abuse.

To find a drug rehab center that might be a good choice for yourself or someone you love, call our helpline today for a free referral and start the process of healing.

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(888) 859-4403

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