Medical Detox Is A Powerful Weapon In The War Against Addiction— How Does it work?
For many people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, they need medical detox, or medically assisted detox, to start the recovery process. Because addiction is a powerful disease, getting the remnants of drugs or alcohol out of the body in a safe way can be a difficult task. Generally, when a user has been using heavily and/or for a long time, there are withdrawal symptoms that come along with detoxification.
At the very least, these symptoms can be uncomfortable. At worst, they can be life threatening.
We want to caution, right here at the beginning, that anyone who is a heavy user of drugs or alcohol should speak to a medical professional before abruptly stopping. In the case of alcohol, for those who have drunk heavy amounts over a significant enough portion of time, these withdrawal symptoms can cause death. Again, talk to a medical provider before abruptly stopping.
So what can be done to make this process safer, easier, and offer better outcomes?
The answer is medical detox, and we’ll explain more about the process below.
What Is Medical Detox?
Medical detox is a process where a person “detoxes” or removes the remaining amounts of substances and residues from their bodies as well as gets over the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. This process is aided by medication, often taken orally or intravenously. It is almost always performed in a treatment center or a hospital under the supervision of a doctor, physician or other medical professional.
There are three general steps to getting healthy and sober. The first is detox, the second rehabilitation, and the third reintegration. For the second two steps to happen, detox is almost always the step that needs to happen first. In rehabilitation, the patient learns healthy habits and deals with traumas and other issues that cause addiction, and reintegration involves learning how to live sober in the greater world.
But none of these can really happen until detox is completed. Because withdrawal symptoms can be so severe, the patient needs to focus only on one thing, which is getting sober. Staying sober comes later.
With medically assisted detox, some of the withdrawal symptoms can be eased with medication. Medication differs with what drug is being abused, but is always prescribed by a physician or other professional. Its use is also monitored, and the patient is monitored for any life-threatening symptoms as well.
What Are The Symptoms Of Withdrawal And Risks Of Detox?
Just as the medication used to treat withdrawal symptoms are different for what drug is being used, withdrawal symptoms can vary, although there are some commonalities.
Withdrawal symptoms common to many of the most widely used drugs include:
- GI tract issues like constipation or diarrhea
- Sleeping issues
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Muscle and body aches
- Tiredness or mood swings
Drugs like alcohol have some withdrawal symptoms that can be life threatening. If you are experiencing any of these when attempting to detox without the help of a medical professional, please call 911 immediately. These include:
- Delirium Tremens or hallucinations
- Low blood pressure
Some or all of these symptoms can be eased with medication and proper doctor care.
What Drugs Are Used In Medical Detox?
The drugs used in medical detox vary, and need to be prescriber or administered by a professional. But for reference, some of the major drugs include:
- Methadone and Suboxone for heroin and other opiate abuse
- Acamprosate for alcoholism
- Buprenorphine, also for opiates
- Anticonvulsants to reduce or eliminate seizures
- Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication to relieve psychological effects
- Naltrexone to control cravings
- And others
Know that these medications, when overseen by a professional, can significantly reduce the stress, discomfort, and danger of detoxing from these substances. Once the detox process is complete, the patient can then enter the next stage of rehabilitation to learn new habits and deal with old horrors and triggers.
Just as we stressed above that undergoing detox without the advice of a professional is dangerous, undergoing detox with help is safe and improves outcomes overall.
How Can I Get Medical Detox?
Medical detox can only be given via a professional. This is why it’s important to contact a treatment center and get help when trying to deal with an addiction. We are one such place where you can get the help you need. You can reach us through our website, or by phone at 424-339-0965.
Detox does not have to be an excruciating process. Medicine has advanced a long way in recent years and addiction science has improved immensely. You don’t need to go it alone. Call us today and get the help you need and deserve.