Following the recent death of Amy Winehouse, Rupert Wolfe Murray and Dominic McCann of the Castle Craig Rehab Centre in Scotland comment on detox versus rehab:
A detox is the initial – and sometimes very tough – stage of rehabilitation when a patient gets the poisonous drugs out of their system.
In fact, detox is just the first step of a long process of physical and psychological rehabilitation. During rehab the person needs to look honestly at their alcohol and drug use and understand the seriousness of their condition. Every alcoholic or addict is, to some degree, in denial. In many cases the root causes of addiction, such as trauma, must be addressed if there is to be any chance of recovery.
So detox isn't rehab, even though the media often present it as such.
Another popular misconception about rehab is that it is something luxurious. The media often paints a picture of an overworked celebrity escaping into an exotic retreat where they can swim, relax, do some gentle therapy and catch up with their sleep. But if you speak to people who have gone through residential rehab they will tell you that it's one of the toughest experiences of their lives, as they have to face their own demons.
The other fallacy about rehab is that it can be managed at home on an “outpatient” basis (Amy Winehouse was receiving outpatient care at the time of her death). This approach works for some but is dangerous for hard core addicts whose lives are totally controlled by drugs or alcohol.
Behind the sad story of Amy Winehouse’s death is a greater tragedy - that of thousands of other drug and alcohol addicts who are caught in the same trap. They are dying every day. The health services need to face up to the terrible impact the disease of addiction has.