Detox, or removing drugs or alcohol from the body, is a vulnerable time where persons addicted to these substances tend to give up due to discomforting withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the type of substance abused, some of the withdrawal symptoms can be severe both physically and emotionally.
Men and women who are ready to sober up sometimes hesitate due to fear of the withdrawal process. The fear may be driven by prior experience or the experience of others. To make withdrawal a lot more bearable, detox centers use various strategies to ease the symptoms.
The introduction of medically-assisted detox allows for the use of prescription drugs to help you gradually taper off drugs or alcohol. Besides being a safer and easier way to rid the body of addictive substances, this strategy significantly reduces the risk of relapse.
How Severe Are Withdrawal Symptoms?
The withdrawal process is a personal experience. Symptoms and results vary from person to person. Factors such as the type of substance abused, how much was used, and for how long will determine the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
People who tried to quit at home “cold turkey” know that some of the symptoms can be maddening, making them unable to complete the process. Because detox poses risks to physical and mental health, this process may be best done under the supervision of a health professional.
These are among the general withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening:
• Overpowering cravings
• Shaking, chills, or cold sweats
• Irritability and fatigue
• Anxiety, panic attacks, or depression
• Confusion, hallucination, or paranoia
• High blood pressure
• Inability to sleep
• Heart palpitations
• Suicidal thoughts
Why Medically-Assisted Detox is Necessary
Medically-assisted detox is the first stage of addiction treatment and can be done at a residential or an outpatient detox clinic. The drug or alcohol is removed from your system during this process and the symptoms are managed to prevent relapse. Supervised detox is highly recommended for addiction to the following substances:
• Opiates, e.g., heroin, cocaine, and meth,
• Prescription opioids, e.g., codeine, morphine, and oxycodone,
• Stimulants, e.g., Adderall and Ritalin
• Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants, e.g., benzodiazepines and barbiturates
The more severe the addiction the more intense withdrawal symptoms are likely to be. Detox centers take a systematic approach to help you quit. From evaluation to psychotherapy, each stage is planned out to suit your circumstances. Their scientific approach has proven to be an effective method for drug or alcohol rehabilitation.
Evaluation: During intake and evaluation, a dual diagnosis will be performed by a health professional to determine the severity of the addiction. You will also be evaluated for any co-occurring mental health conditions, e.g., anxiety disorder. A treatment plan will be tailored, beginning with detox, before you transition into psychotherapy to address any mental health needs.
Stabilization: Withdrawal symptoms usually begin about 6 to 24 hours after the last dose of the substance. As symptoms become acute, you will be given medication to help reduce their effects. Some medications used have a two-fold effect. For example, suboxone works to taper the user off the addictive substance, e.g., heroin, as well as provide low doses of opioids to manage cravings.
Tapering off drugs or alcohol helps the body gradually adjust to the absence of the substance until it no long craves it. Stabilization is followed by the last stage of detox which is preparation for entry into addiction treatment.
Types of Medications Used For Medically-Assisted Detox
Detox can last for days, weeks, or months. Certain medications are approved by the FDA for short-term and long-term treatment of withdrawal symptoms. They are administered in low doses to prevent addiction.
Alcohol: Several drugs may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms. Carbamazepine helps prevent seizures, beta blockers treat rapid heart rate and high blood pressure, while benzodiazepines, e.g., Valium, can prevent serious withdrawal symptoms from developing. Acamprosate helps restore neurotransmitters in the brain while disulfiram may be administered to deter future alcohol use by making the substance taste unpleasant.
Opiates: Withdrawal symptoms related to addiction to opiates such as heroin can be treated with buprenorphine, clonidine, suboxone, or methadone. These are prescription opioid medications. They prevent or reduce withdrawal symptoms by tricking the brain’s opioid receptors into thinking cravings are being satisfied.
Opioids: Symptoms related to abuse of prescription opioids such as oxycodone, codeine, or methadone may be treated with suboxone. Suboxone is an opioid blocker. It contains the ingredients naloxone and buprenorphine. Buprenorphine creates a mild feeling of euphoria and reduces or prevent symptoms such as pain. The effect of naloxone is beneficial during maintenance as it blocks the effects of opioids on the brain.
Stimulants: Benzodiazepine is a depressant that may be prescribed to help with irritability, depression, anxiety, and insomnia during withdrawal from stimulants such as Adderall or Ritalin.
Depressants: Symptoms related to addiction to CNS drugs such as benzodiazepines can be alleviated using a benzodiazepine drug itself, e.g., diazepam.
Antidepressants to treat anxiety and sleep medication for insomnia can be given as needed while weaning off alcohol, opiates, or opioids.
Benefits of Medical Detox
If you or someone you know are considering treatment at a detox center, a quick consideration of these benefits can help you decide on medically-supervised withdrawal:
• You will be in a safe, structured environment surrounded by a medical staff
• Inpatient centers provide round-the-clock supervision and can manage medical emergencies that may arise
• In the absence of environmental triggers that lead to drug or alcohol abuse, you can focus mainly on recovering.
• Getting clean at a detox center significantly reduces the risk of relapse. Even if you experience cravings, medications may be used to manage them until cravings subside.
• Detox centers usually have mental health professionals to provide emotional support and therapy to manage psychological symptoms, e.g., depression, mood changes, or emotional overreaction.
• Once you are stabilized, you are prepped to transition to psychological therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and family therapy can help you understand why you choose drugs or alcohol to cope with life problems.
Medical detox is the first and crucial step to sobriety. It also paves the way for psychological therapy. Detox centers in South Florida may use one or more of these medical strategies for managing withdrawal symptoms and providing clinical comfort. The types of medication used will depend on the substance that was abused in addition to your personal recovery needs. A simple phone call to 877-978-3125 is all it takes to start the process of long-term recovery.