5 Considerations To Help You Decide Whether To Start Your Rehabilitation With Drug Detoxification Or Counseling

19 July 2016
 Categories: , Articles


Drug rehabilitation has many steps. This usually includes detoxification, counseling, medication, and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues. Many people assume that the first step should always be physical detoxification. However, there is not a strict order for how these steps should progress. It is highly dependent on the individual, their counselor, and the current extremity of the individual's drug addiction. Below are some things to consider when deciding whether to start counseling first or attempt an immediate detoxification. 

Are you in immediate physical danger from your drug use? 

If you are in immediate physical danger from your drug use, then you should concentrate on your physical safety by pursuing physical detoxification. For example, if you are taking large amounts of drugs and are at risk for overdosing, you should start with detoxification rather than counseling. However, if you take a small amount of drugs regularly, and are in control of your dosage, then you may be able to start therapy before attending a drug detoxification center. 

Are you a high-functioning drug user? 

Addicts can function at different levels in life. For example, some addicts can hold down a job and maintain relationships. Other addicts may barely be able to function due to their drug usage. Social functioning is a spectrum, and most people are somewhat negatively affected by their drug addiction without being completely unable to function. How important detoxification is for you may depend on your level of functioning. If you are high-functioning, you may need counseling to even begin to realize why you may need drug rehabilitation, meaning you are more likely to enroll in counseling before going to a detox program. 

Do you have mental issues that would prevent you from going to a detox center?

Often, drug use is started as a coping mechanism for mental issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, or PTSD. If you have one of these disorders, you may be too frightened or nervous to agree to stop using, which could make detoxification more traumatic than necessary for you. If you start counseling before going to a detox center, you may be more prepared and less frightened of the detox experience. Your counselor may start treating your other mental issues or they may simply work on developing coping mechanisms that will get you through your physical detox and into the first steps of rehabilitation. 

Can you take time off of work to go to a detox center? 

Often, drug addicts have to take time off of work to go to a detox center, such as Evergreen Recovery Centers. While rehab may be outpatient, most detox programs are inpatient because they require close monitoring. However, if your drug use does not demand inpatient detox, then you may be able to complete an outpatient detox program under the remote supervision of a doctor. However, you may want to attend counseling before attempting an outpatient detox in order to prepare yourself for the experience and to develop the skills necessary to conduct a detox on your own. 

Do you already have a relationship with a counselor you trust? 

If you already have a relationship with a counselor whom you trust, then it may be a good idea to visit them once or twice before checking in to a detox program. However, if you do not trust a counselor, then you may want to start with a detox program where you may develop a relationship with a counselor who you can then learn to trust. 

Drug rehabilitation is a highly individual journey. Although most people start with physical detoxification, there are circumstances when it is appropriate to start with therapy and then, if needed, complete a physical detox.