What is Drug Detox?

Since substance abuse and addiction take time to develop, it is also essential that you spend some time in a drug detox program. This is because in many cases the detoxification process is complicated. Read on to find out more:

Understanding Drug Detoxification

Detoxification, also known as drug detox, is the process by which intoxicating and mind altering substances are eliminated from the body. Since the process can be complex, it is recommended that you undertake it after enrolling in a medically managed detox program.

Drug abuse and addiction are multifaceted. The problems continue rising with every instance of substance abuse. To this end, it can only be managed in a medically supervised environment.

The Drug Detoxification Process

Before you can receive any other form of treatment for addiction, you first need to go through drug detox. At this point, your psychological burden especially when you think about what will happen during your detoxification can be difficult.

This is because you might be afraid that you will no longer be able to continue taking your favorite intoxicating and mind altering substances. Further, you may be wary of the potentially undesirable mental, emotional, and physical effects that will occur once you develop a withdrawal syndrome.

Often, you will experience withdrawal symptoms because your body has become accustomed to the presence and effects of drugs. This is particularly true if you have been abusing these substances for a long time.

If you suddenly stop using them or you radically reduce your typical dose or frequency of substance abuse, there is a high possibility that you will develop these symptoms of withdrawal.

What is more, some of these symptoms might prove to be painful, uncomfortable, adverse, severe, or even potentially life threatening. This is why you might be scared about going through drug detox.

However, it would be impossible for you to overcome your addiction unless you have receive drug detoxification services. To ensure that you do not suffer too much during withdrawal, it is recommended that you seek medical aid during detox.

Through a medically managed detoxification process, you will get the opportunity to consult with medical professionals and addiction treatment experts. This way, they can create a treatment plan that is suitable for you based on your unique needs, requirements, preferences, and experiences.

The detox process will also be supervised by a consulting physician. By so doing, it can ensure that you are safe and healthy all through the process, and that you do not suffer overly from your withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal Symptom Management

Once you start going through drug detox, there are some withdrawal symptoms that you can expect to experience. As we mentioned earlier, the best way to manage these symptoms is through a medically managed detox program.

The medical professionals working at the drug detox center can help you by treating the undesirable effects that arise during withdrawal. Often, they will also prescribe medications - a process that is also known as medication management - to manage all your unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal. These medications could potentially make the detox process potentially tolerable and safer for you.

In many cases, the medication treatments provided during withdrawal will depend on the particular intoxicating and mind altering substances that you were abusing. However, they might also depend on the volume of your substance abuse, the duration of your addiction, and many other factors.

Based on specific commonly abused drugs, the following treatments are available:

a) Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

If you are addicted to benzodiazepines and you check into a drug detox center, a wide variety of strategies will be used to manage your withdrawal. For instance, the program might require that you continue taking these drugs before gradually decreasing the amounts over time. They could also compel you to switch to other safer benzodiazepines or to go through phenobarbital substitution.

b) Opioid Withdrawal

If you are addicted to any opioid drug, you can use buprenorphine (Suboxone and Subutex) and methadone. The FDA - the Food and Drug Administration - has approved both of these medications for use in the treatment of opioid use disorders.

c) Stimulant withdrawal

At the moment, the FDA has not approved any mediations to act as antagonists in the management of cocaine addiction and withdrawal. However, enrolling in an inpatient drug detox program could help you manage your stimulant abuse and addiction.

In particular, the program might use benzodiazepines to offset your withdrawal symptoms, especially if you are addicted to methamphetamines and/or cocaine. Although benzos (as they are known as) are also addictive, they are also effective in calming the adverse effects arising from stimulant withdrawal. This form of treatment is ideal because there are no other medical alternatives available at the moment.

Quitting Cold Turkey

Even so, medical drug detox is not the only way to overcome your physical dependence. You might also be tempted to try quitting cold turkey. This effectively means that you will be dealing with your withdrawal without any medical interventions.

As you can well imagine, this is a dangerous proposition. It could, for instance, lead to fatal outcomes especially if you are addicted to intoxicating substances that cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms - such as methadone and benzodiazepines.

A better way to deal with your addiction would be to enroll in a medically supervised drug detox program. It can manage your withdrawal symptoms, protect your life, and ensure that you are safe and comfortable during withdrawal.

There are also other drugs that might not always lead to fatal outcomes during withdrawal. Examples of these substances include nicotine, amphetamines, and cocaine. However, if you try to overcome your dependence on them through cold turkey quitting, they could present some severe symptoms of withdrawal.

One of the main reasons why you should not try to quit cold turkey is because it could increase your risk of relapse. Even if you manage to overcome your addiction for some time, your tolerance will be reduced.

This means that if you relapse and start taking the same amount of drugs that you used to take before quitting, there is a high risk that you could suffer a drug overdose. At this point, your tolerance would be so low that your body could potentially be overwhelmed by the sudden intake of drugs. Often, this overdose could lead to adverse side effects, including comas and death.

Detox as a Continuum of Care

Although drug detox is an important first step to recovery, it is not always sufficient for full recovery. To recover from your substance use disorder, you need to go through many steps and receive different treatments over and above detoxification services.

The goal of detox is to address your physical dependence as well as help you overcome any drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms that arise when you stop abusing drugs. However, you will still need other services to ensure that you have dealt with your behavioral, psychological, and emotional dependence.

This is because it might take several months before your brain can start functioning normally again. Only after receiving adequate treatment can you manage your drug cravings successfully and reduce your risk of relapse.

Many addiction treatment specialists will inform you that you should undergo drug detox in a medically managed facility. Some of benefits that you stand to gain by enrolling in such a program include:

- It can reduce your drug cravings through ongoing medical supervision and medication management

- Most of these programs have many different treatments and amenities that could improve your outcomes in the long term, such as diets to complement detox, pain relievers, and nutritional supplements

- The program can administer medications to deal with any adverse, severe, or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms

- Through a medically managed detox program, you will get a support system that could help soothe the psychological and emotional challenges that you develop during detoxification and withdrawal

After Detox

If you check out of a medically detox program, you will still have a risk of relapse. In fact, a study by John Hopkins reported that the relapse rate after detox is anywhere between 65 and 80 percent. The same report published in 2012, however, also showed that recovering addicts who continue with other treatments have 10 times as high a likelihood to remain free of drugs over the long term.

The amount of time that you spend receiving help for your substance use disorder, to this end, is a crucial factor to consider. Research studies have shown that the longer you spend in drug detox and rehabilitation programs, the easier it might be for you to overcome your addiction.

After you have been through a medical detox program, it is recommended that you continue receiving other additional treatments. As long as the drug rehab that you choose after detox meets the criteria set out by NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), it should be able to help you overcome your substance use disorder.

This is particularly important because you still need to work through the other factors linked to your substance abuse and addiction. These factors include but are not limited to your psychological, emotional, and behavioral dependence, as well as the existence of any co-occurring mental health and medical disorders.

Overall, medical drug detox is an essential first step that you have to take when you get started on the road to recovery. After you complete it, you can go through drug rehab to deal with the other aspects of your recovery.

CITATIONS

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360883/

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