Detox—The First Step Towards Healing

Written By

Detox—The First Step Towards Healing


If you Google the word, you’ll find images of vitamins, herbs, teas and other soothing, healthful options for living a happy, healthy life.

It suggests a spa, where someone prepares healthy food, groups of devotees practice yoga in front of a peaceful waterfall, and I get a massage. (Sorry, spa fantasy here.)

Detoxes and cleanses are particularly popular at the beginning of a new year, when most of us are determined to get healthy, eat “clean” and generally live better. Yet there is little scientific evidence that body detoxes and cleanses have any medical benefit—unless, of course, you’re an addict. Then, the word detox holds another meaning—getting the drugs or alcohol out of your body, the first step towards any significant healing.

I can’t speak for the mind of an addict, but I imagine the idea of detox is at once frightening and appealing. Fear of being without the drug and anticipation of being able to live without the drug. But there’s nothing spa-like in the process. It’s stressful, uncomfortable and scary.

For a parent or family member of an addict with no frame of reference on personal drug or alcohol abuse, detox is yet another confusing word in the endless parade of language used to describe what’s happening to a loved one.

When my son first entered treatment, I was told he would undergo a period of detox before beginning rehabilitative therapy. I had no idea then, nor do I now, what the particulars of detox involved medically. I didn’t need to know. I didn’t particularly care. All I knew was that someone—someone who knew how to help my son, because I clearly didn’t—was going to remove the poison from his body and try to help him heal.

That was enough for me. I assumed it wouldn’t be pleasant for him, but cruel as it may sound, I didn’t really care. I’d seen enough of how drugs consumed my child to know that it wouldn’t be easy to be rid of that demon. If David had to be uncomfortable or even in pain to be able to deal with his addiction, so be it. It was a price worth paying if my child could be made whole again.

It was also a time when I “detoxed” myself from the constant, considerable strain and pain of thinking about my son’s addiction 24/7.

Knowing he was in the hands of medical professionals with a skill set to handle addiction provided enormous relief. I thought about him of course, but granted myself the mercy to take a break, rest, eat well and take care of myself while others were taking care of him.

Detox is the beginning of the journey towards a healthy life for any addict. While it begins with removing poison from the addict’s body, it is also the beginning of removing mental and emotional poison from the family. Ask your medical professionals if you want to know more and remember to “detox” yourself and rebuild with rest and healthy habits while your loved one is in treatment.

Mary Fran Bontempo is a 2x TEDx speaker, author and humorist. Visit her at

Her latest book, “The 15 Minute Master—How to Make Everything Better 15 Minutes at a Time,” can be found on Amazon.

Mary Fran Bontempo