Addiction recovery is a journey, not a destination—and as such, it encompasses many steps. Though no two recovery journeys are ever exactly the same, they do all begin with the essential first step of detoxification; indeed, without this step, your recovery journey is over before it really begins.

Of all the phases in recovery, detox is perhaps the one that fills clients with the most anxiety and apprehension. That’s because the painful symptoms of withdrawal are well known, and can seem scary. That’s what makes it all the more important to detox in a controlled, clinical environment—not just on your own: Doctors and addiction specialists can help control the symptoms and minimize discomfort, often through the use of non-habit-forming medications.

Even so, detox can be unpleasant—there’s just no getting around it. Yet to ensure that the recovery itself is safe and effective, detox is vital.

For one thing, detox enables you to enter an addiction recovery program with a “clean” system. Drugs and alcohol ravage the body and mind in different ways—and if you’re in the throes of those ravages, you’re simply not in a good place to be serious about sobriety.

Moreover, the detox process itself can equip you with some of the tools and strategies you need to make your recovery a success. It can provide an opportunity for the diagnosis of co-occurring disorders. And when you do on-site detox in a clinical facility, it makes the transition into an inpatient rehab program that much smoother and easier.

Addiction detox is never an easy thing, and it may well be the hardest step to take in your journey toward recovery. Without that step, though, the rest of the journey is all but impossible. Make sure you begin your recovery by thinking seriously about medical detox.

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