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What is Drug Detox

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What is Drug Detox

drug detoxThere are several types of drug detox treatments available. The right drug detox treatment will be different for each person, as the program will be determined by the type of drug being taken, and the dosage being taken.

Treatment may also depend heavily on whether there are any underlying or co-existing mental health conditions that may also need to be treated simultaneously.

Types of Drug Detox Treatments

Some of the different drug detox treatments available include:

Natural Detox

Perhaps the most commonly known type of detox is the natural way, which is also commonly called “cold turkey.” The person simply stops taking the drug of choice.

Most drug abusers and addicts attempt to quit drugs cold turkey at several points throughout their addictive use. However, detox alone won’t successfully treat the psychological side of the addiction. As a result, the majority of users who try to quit cold turkey end up relapsing after staying clean for a short period of time.

By comparison, people who go through natural detox treatments under supervision in an inpatient treatment facility have the benefit of medical supervision. In order to recover from drug addiction, it’s important to combine detox treatments with a comprehensive rehab treatment plan designed to address the psychological side of the addiction at the same time.

Inpatient Medicated Detox

Medicated detox programs work on the cold turkey withdrawal basis, but non-addictive prescription medication may be given to treat any symptoms that emerge. For example, some patients may be given antidepressants such as Bupropion to treat symptoms of depression, while others may be given anti-nausea or anti-diarrhea medications, or medications to relieve symptoms of insomnia. Others may require anticonvulsants, such as Neurontin, especially if there is an increased risk of experiencing seizures during withdrawal.

Outpatient Medical DetoxHelp for Detox

Medical detox involves administering replacement medication to wean the recovering person off the drug of addiction slowly. For example, methadone or Suboxone may be given to a recovering opiate addict under strictly monitored conditions.  These replacement medications allow the person to stop using the drug of addiction without experiencing horrible withdrawal symptoms.

Over time, the dosage of prescription medication is tapered down, so at the end of the detox process the person ends up free from both drugs. In most cases, medical detox occurs as an outpatient program that doesn’t require full-time admission into a rehab center. The person can continue to attend work or school, and can still return home or to a sober living facility at night.

Naltrexone may also be administered to recovering addicts who have already completed the detox process. Naltrexone is an opiate blocker, which actively blocks the euphoric effects of opiate drugs. The objective is to encourage the person in recovery to remain clean and drug-free over the long term.

Recovering alcoholics may be given a medication called Antabuse disulfiram. The medication causes severely adverse side effects when combined with even small amounts of alcohol. The objective is to create a negative association with drinking in the minds of people recovering from alcoholism.

Why Is It Dangerous to Detox at Home?

Research shows that there is a significantly higher rate of death caused by accidental overdose when a person relapses during overdose. The risk is higher during detox than at any other time during the person’s addictive drug use.

Additionally, withdrawal from drugs can cause adverse symptoms in some people that could require emergency medical assistance. People who detox at home don’t have the right medical supervision or support to treat any complications that can arise during the process.

One of the most underestimated withdrawal symptoms of detoxing from any drug of addiction is the powerfully compulsive urge to take more drugs. Overwhelming cravings are caused by significant changes within the brain’s chemistry due to drug abuse. When intake of the drug stops, the brain is unable to adapt, so a large percentage of addicts relapse back to self-destructive drug abuse during the detox process.

By comparison, medical drug detox in a rehab center can provide the necessary medical supervision needed to treat any medical complications. The person is also in a safe environment, away from people and places associated with drug use, which helps to avoid relapse during the crucial first stages of treatment.

Addiction WithdrawalWithdrawal Symptoms Associated with Detox

The type of withdrawal symptoms experienced will depend heavily on the drug being taken. Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms are as follows:

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

  Withdrawing from opiate drugs, such as heroin, morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin), or hydrocodone (Vicodin) can cause symptoms that include:

  • Intense cravings to take more opiates
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Profuse sweating
  • Runny nose and teary eyes
  • Goose bumps
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Depression

 Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

The physical withdrawal symptoms of cocaine detox may not be as severe as withdrawing from heroin or alcohol. However, the psychological symptoms can be much worse. Symptoms include:

  • Physical and emotional exhaustion (crash)
  • Fierce cravings to take more cocaine
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Increase in appetite
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Vivid unpleasant dreams and nightmares
  • Psychosis
  • Profound depression
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies 

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol is the most dangerous substance of addiction to detox from. The withdrawal symptoms of alcohol dependence can be potentially life-threatening. These include:

  • Strong cravings to drink more alcohol
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors and shakes
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Benefits of Treatment in a Residential Treatment Center

Detoxing from any substance of addiction in a residential treatment center offers the person in recovery a safe, supervised environment to complete the process. Medical supervision is on hand to treat any symptoms or complications that arise.

The person also has the benefit of receiving prescription medications that can help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, making the process more bearable overall.

Statistics show that the recovery rate for drug addiction is much higher in people who seek professional treatment in a residential treatment center. Structured treatment programs and strong community support available in rehab centers can make it easier to achieve a successful recovery.

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