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What Is Sub-Acute Detox Program?

A detox has to be done before further addiction recovery treatment can be carried out, and a sub-acute detox program can help.

What is Sub-Acute Detox?

The detox process is fundamental in treating and managing all kinds of addiction. While the general idea behind detox remains the same, there are some differences with regards to the specifics of how this is carried out. One such detox approach is a sub-acute detox program.

Sub-acute detox is a type of detoxification program often recommended by healthcare professionals to people whose drug or substance addiction condition involves the abuse of substances in low doses. That is, these individuals consume only a small amount of the substance of abuse each time they use a substance. They also tend to be in much better physical health than those with severe addiction problems who ingest large doses of the drug or substance of abuse.1

Why Does Sub-Acute Detox Work?

Sub-acute detox is often recommended for this category of people because, due to their relatively low level of drug consumption, the side effects and withdrawal symptoms of addiction experienced during treatment will also tend to be a lot milder compared to those who have a history of consuming large amounts of substances.

You should know that although sub-acute detox is for patients with less severe addiction problems, this doesn’t mean that the addiction condition present should be taken lightly. If it’s not properly managed, it could still have devastating effects on the lives of the people affected.

Difference Between Sub-Acute & Acute Detox

Medical-assisted detox can be divided into two major types: sub-acute and acute detoxification. While these two types of detox programs have the same aim in mind, they are carried out quite differently, especially with respect to which kind of patients they target.

Acute Detox

Acute detoxification is often recommended for individuals struggling with drug addiction conditions that involve the frequent consumption of large amounts of a substance. In this type of detox, it’s expected that affected individuals will experience severe and acute drug withdrawal symptoms, as well as any accompanying side effects of detox, meaning it’s often much too severe for them to handle on their own safely.

As a result, these affected patients should attend an inpatient or residential treatment facility where they can be under the constant supervision of medical care providers.

Sub-Acute Detox

In sub-acute detox, the substance addiction condition isn’t as advanced as the cases observed under acute detox. As a result, patients in a sub-acute detox program are expected to experience less severe withdrawal symptoms, so they may even be able to take care of or manage the withdrawal symptoms on their own using prescribed medication. This also means that medical supervision isn’t as needed during sub-acute detox, but is still recommended.

Sub-Acute Detox Program Formats

There are a number of different sub-acute detox program formats, and the choice of a particular treatment program usually depends on a number of factors, namely patient comfort and the severity of addiction.

In several of these cases, the families of the individual undergoing addiction treatment will choose which treatment format to go with, especially in somewhat severe addiction cases, such as in patients requiring urgent care for alcohol withdrawal. Whenever possible, however, it is recommended that the patient be allowed to make this decision for themselves. Some sub-acute detox program formats include:

  • Residential detox facilities
  • Urgent care centers
  • Intensive outpatient programs

Why Will a Sub-Acute Detox Ease Your Recovery?

Sub-acute detox programs offer a safe and secure means to remove harmful drugs or toxins slowly and carefully from the system, successfully managing tough withdrawal symptoms and effectively dealing with drug cravings. Sub-acute detox will also allow for the effective reduction of cravings in order to create a healthier mental and emotional state.

Who Needs Sub-Acute Detox?

There are different specifics for acute and sub-acute detoxification, so it’s important you know which of these two programs is the most suitable option for you or your loved one. You might need sub-acute detoxification if you are:

  • Someone who has already gone through high-level detox
  • Someone who has ongoing psychological or biological needs
  • Someone who is psychologically addicted to drugs that aren’t chemically addictive
  • Someone who has relapsed after completing treatment

Who Is Sub-Acute Detox Not Suitable For?

You should know that, just as there are people for whom sub-acute detox is a perfect option, there are also people that sub-acute detoxification treatment is not suitable for. Some of these categories of people include the following:

  • Those who have tried a sub-acute detox program before and relapsed
  • Those who have detoxed before and experienced particularly dangerous or negative side effects
  • Those who are psychologically unwell or suffer from a particular cognitive disorder
  • Those who have a long history of abusing multiple drugs
  • Those who are detoxing from substances that carry risks when going “cold turkey,” or are detoxing not under medical supervision

What Factors Influence Detox?

Although the amount of substance consumed during addiction and the length of the addiction period are very important detoxification factors that influence what type of detoxification is recommended to a patient, there are many other factors that should be considered before the final decision is made. Some of these factors include:2

  • The substance(s) the person is addicted to
  • How long the patient has been addicted to the substance
  • The severity of the addiction
  • Any co-occurring mental health issues
  • Any other medical issues present
  • The age of the patient
  • How much support the patient has
  • The motivation level of the patient

Side Effects of Sub-Acute Drug Detox

No treatment approach is perfect and without side effects, and the same fact applies to sub-acute detox programs. The side effects of sub-acute detox can be divided into two major parts. There are certain medical and physical side effects that can occur during the program, along with emotional and psychological ones as well. These depend on each individual and may not occur for everyone.

Medical and Physical

The medical and physical side effects of sub-acute drug detox often depend on the severity of the addiction, along with how long someone has been abusing substances. These side effects can include:

  • Tremors and shaking
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tightness in the chest

Emotional and Psychological

Sub-acute detox also has effects on a patient’s emotions and psychological state. Some of these emotional and psychological effects can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Social isolation
  • Poor concentration

When Can Someone End Sub-Acute Detox?

Detoxification usually takes about five to seven days to be completed, although depending on each patient, it could extend slightly beyond that. When you’re undergoing sub-acute detox program, however, it is recommended you inquire with your medical providers as to the specifics of the treatment program, including questions relating to the duration of the program.3

Do not stop or quit treatment just because you’re feeling better until your treatment provider tells you it’s safe to do so. Beyond detox programs, there are also aftercare approaches that addiction patients have to undergo to ensure that the positive results obtained after sub-acute detox are maintained.

How Does Aftercare Work?

Aftercare involves planning and structuring activities and events that contribute to ensuring the positive results from detox are sustained. These activities could include joining a support group and attending periodic counseling.

Aftercare also helps prepare previous addiction patients from relapsing by assisting them in learning to identify, avoid, or develop coping mechanisms for dealing with substance use risks, all to ensure a successful transition back into their regular routines.4

Find Detoxification Services at San Diego Detox

The detoxification process is usually accompanied by several side effects, some of which are potentially life-threatening, so it’s often recommended that drug detox be done in a treatment facility for improved patient safety. San Diego Detox can help you or a loved one undergo a safe sub-acute detox.

Our health professionals are licensed and well-experienced in providing the safe and effective detox and drug addiction recovery treatment you need. Contact us today and we will be with you every step of the way during recovery.