Formal & informal detox
NOTE: Quotes are presented word for word apart from minor editing for readability and clarity. Identifying details have been removed. Square brackets show text that has been added, e.g. ‘I want to maintain [my current level of drug use]’. Ellipses within square brackets […] show where text has been removed, e.g. ‘Counselling was good but […] I would have liked more information about other treatment options’.
Many of the people interviewed for this website talk about changing their patterns of consumption by seeking treatment or using informal strategies to create change. For some these strategies include detoxification (‘detox’). This is the process of reducing or stopping drug use to allow the body to eliminate the drug entirely. It usually involves managing physical symptoms that can be experienced when stopping or cutting down (often called ‘withdrawal’). Sometimes considered the first step in treatment, detox can be done through formal programs at an outpatient withdrawal service or a residential service. Outpatient detox services typically provide short-term individual consultations with a health professional, along with ongoing counselling and support. Detox at a residential service usually involves a short stay at a residential withdrawal unit or hospital. Detox can also be done at home as an informal strategy for changing consumption patterns. It differs from other informal strategies for creating change because it usually involves stopping abruptly and allowing the body to eliminate the drug. Often people do this by isolating themselves at home while they manage the physical symptoms that can be experienced when stopping.