Detox is the process of breaking a physical addiction by withholding the drug from the body so that traces can be flushed from the system and brain function can begin to return to normal. Medical detox is the most common method of detoxification in drug rehab programs.
Medical detox involves administering medications to prevent or alleviate intense withdrawal symptoms associated with various types of addictive substances. During the medical detox process, patients are evaluated for underlying issues, co-occurring mental illnesses, and secondary addictions, all of which will be addressed in the treatment phase of rehab.
Detoxifying at home without the supervision of medical personnel can be highly dangerous when the drug of addiction is alcohol or central nervous system sedatives like Xanax and Klonopin. Withdrawal from these substances may cause dangerous changes in blood pressure, body temperature, and heart and respiratory rates, and these conditions can be fatal.
While the withdrawal symptoms associated with some drugs aren’t particularly dangerous, they can be extremely intense, and detoxing without medications to alleviate symptoms typically leads right back to using the substance just to ease the discomfort.
Inpatient detox is essential for those with ambivalence toward recovery, secondary addictions, or a co-occurring mental illness, and it’s always the ideal treatment scenario for those who can afford to be away from home or work for an extended period of time.
Inpatient programs allow the patient to focus solely on recovery without the added challenges of triggers and stress at home tempting them back into using. Inpatient programs offer 24-hour care and often include alternative addiction treatment therapies like yoga and massage therapy to help improve the comfort and success of detox.
Outpatient detox enables patients to continue living at home in order to meet the responsibilities there and at school or work. Outpatient detox is typically successful for those who have a personal commitment to sobriety and a support system in place at home and in the community.
Not all patients experience all of the potential withdrawal symptoms of any given drug, and symptoms may range in severity from mild to intense.
Alcohol withdrawal produces symptoms like hallucinations, tremors, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, and seizures as well as dangerous increases in blood pressure and other bodily functions. Medications used to treat these symptoms during detox include Paxil to alleviate depressive symptoms and combat insomnia, Neurotonin to prevent or treat the onset of seizures and help restore brain function back to normal, and Chantix to alleviate the intensity of cravings.
Withdrawal symptoms associated with detox from opiates like heroin and prescription painkillers like OxyContin include body aches, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and hot and cold sweats. Medications used to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms include Methadone to suppress the onset of symptoms and relieve cravings, Subutex to decrease the time it takes to detox, Clonidine to reduce anxiety and alleviate cramps, and Paxil to treat depressive symptoms.
Stimulants like cocaine, meth, and the prescription drugs Adderall and Dexedrine produce withdrawal symptoms that include depression, anxiety, lethargy, and suicidal thoughts. These are particularly intense during withdrawal from meth. While there are no medications approved specifically to treat symptoms of stimulant withdrawal, drugs like Zyban will be administered to help alleviate the deep depression associated with detox from stimulants.
Sedatives like Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium produce withdrawal symptoms that often include dangerous increases in blood pressure and body temperature. Since there are no medications available to treat these symptoms, medical sedative detox is a weaning off process to prevent the onset of these conditions altogether.
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