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Medical Detox

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Medical Detox

The Role of Detox in Addiction Recovery

The drug treatment process is often broken down into three separate components: detox, rehab, and aftercare support. Detox helps people to stop using drugs and treats associated withdrawal symptoms, with medications often administered to reduce and manage the withdrawal syndrome. While natural detox is possible, medications are often advised when physical-somatic withdrawal symptoms are present. Medical detox is the process and experience of withdrawal under medical supervision. The medical detox process is typically conducted at the outset of addiction treatment, with detox followed by inpatient or outpatient rehab and aftercare support programs. If you know anyone who could benefit from medical detox support, it’s important to contact a professional treatment center as soon as possible.

Stages of Detox

Medical detox normally begins with a detailed evaluation phase, with physical and psychological tests both performed prior to medication. This process is important for many reasons, with blood tests performed to check for currently circulating substances and mental tests performed for co-occurring mental health disorders.

Once the clinicians involved have a clear picture of the situation in front of them, they will generally start to medicate the client. A variety of different drugs are used during medical detox, with the substance and extent of addiction greatly influencing the treatment provided. For example, heroin and opiate addicts often receive methadone to help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. In contrast, alcoholics and sedative addicts may be prescribed benzodiazepine drugs such as Valium to help manage their withdrawal symptoms.

Once the patient has been stabilized and problematic drug use has been discontinued, they will generally be guided into a rehabilitation program. While detox is an important part of the drug treatment process, it does very little to address the psychological aspects of drug addiction. Residential and outpatient rehab regimes are designed to do just this, with cognitive, behavioral, and motivational methods employed to address the environmental and emotional precursors of drug addiction. If medical detox is not required, patients may be guided directly towards a rehabilitation program.

Breaking the Physical vs Psychological Dependence in Detox

Access to medical detox depends greatly on the substance and extent of addiction. For example, some psychoactive substances produce a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome when intake is stopped or reduced, including alcohol, heroin, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, Valium, Xanax, Klonopin and many others. These drugs are more likely to require medical detox in order to manage associated withdrawal symptoms. In contrast, many other substances produce emotional-motivational withdrawal symptoms, including marijuana, cocaine, meth, and prescription stimulants such as Concerta and Ritalin. Medication treatment is largely ineffective for these drugs, with addicts often guided directly into rehabilitation programs. Even when detox is recommended for these drugs, it is generally used to enable discontinuation without the use of medical support.

Opiate Detox and Opiate Withdrawal

Opiates are central nervous system (CNS) depressants, with common opiate drugs including the illegal drug heroin and the prescription drugs oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and many others. More correctly referred to as opioids, these substances are highly addictive and likely to produce physical withdrawal symptoms when drug intake is stopped. Typical withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and restless leg syndrome. Medications are often advised to help manage these symptoms, followed by rehabilitation and aftercare support programs. If you or anyone you know who needs help to overcome any kind of drug addiction, it’s important to contact a specialized treatment center as soon as you can.

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