Drug Detox

Drug detoxification is the process of cleansing the harmful toxins from the body of a person who abuses substances. It is the first step in the rehabilitation process for recovery from drug addiction. During detox, medical professionals assist the patient in managing the symptoms associated with withdrawal.

When someone uses a substance for a long period of time, or has become dependent on it, and when he or she suddenly stops taking it, the body experiences several different and severe side effects.  In some cases, the withdrawal side effects can be life threatening. Detox and drug addiction rehabilitation centers are specialized facilities for detoxification. In these centers, medical professionals manage patient detox processes by using various techniques and medications to ease the effects of withdrawal.

Detox alone may help a person stop abusing drugs for a short period of time; however, it is important to receive additional treatment after the detoxification process, including therapy, to prevent the risk of relapse.

Who Benefits from Supervised Drug Detoxification?

When drugs are used for a prolonged time, the body becomes dependent on it. The substance affects the brain and the brain becomes accustomed to it. Over time, the body builds a tolerance to the drug, which means that larger amounts of the drug have to be taken to experience the same initial effects.

Due to drug tolerance and dependency, the user’s body needs the drug to function. When the drug is not taken, the absence of the substance causes the body to have negative side effects, including:

  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

These side effects are withdrawal symptoms. To combat them, the body starts to crave the substance, making it more difficult for the addict to abstain from using. Through supervised detox, an addict receives the necessary assistance  to get through withdrawal safely and to help avoid drug cravings.

The Process of Drug Detoxification

The beginning of detox can be very intense. After just a few hours of using the last dose of a substance, the person will start to experience withdrawal symptoms, which include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Aches and pains
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures and tremors
  • Psychosis

In some cases, withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening, but rather they are physically and mentally uncomfortable. In severe cases, the symptoms of withdrawal are not only uncomfortable, but can be lethal. In either case, it is best to go through the detoxification process at detox or rehabilitation centers so patients receive the care and support needed for safe drug withdrawal.

Patients are monitored by medical professionals, including doctors and nurses. Their vital signs are taken and their progress is assessed. If medical intervention is deemed necessary, patients will receive the assistance, including medication and other tactics to stabilize the patients and help get them through the withdrawal symptoms.

The type and severity of withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person and depend on a variety of factors:

  • The type of drugs the person was using
  • How much of the drug the person was taking
  • The length of time the patient was abusing the drug(s)
  • The amount of the substance that is in the patient’s body upon entering detox
  • Whether or not any physical or mental disorders exist in the patient
  • The half-life of the substance. If the drug is short-acting, typically the withdrawal symptoms occur immediately after taking the last dose; if the substance was long-acting, the withdrawal symptoms can be delayed.
  • The severity of cravings.

Types of Drug Detoxification

There are several types of drug detoxification options. The type of substances addicts abuse, along with the types of withdrawal symptoms, will help determine which detox programs  are appropriate.

Some drug detox options include:

  • Inpatient Detoxification. Generally, an inpatient detox program is recommended for those who abuse drugs and are trying to become sober. These programs allow patients to receive immediate assistance for any issues that may arise, as well as guidance to successfully handle withdrawal symptoms.
  • Outpatient Detoxification. This type of detox is not usually recommended; however, if a person has a less severe addiction, an outpatient detox program may be a good option. It usually involves checking in with a treatment team, and medications are provided via prescriptions. In cases where finances are a factor or a patient has to continue working, an outpatient detox program may provide the treatment necessary to detox.

There are also detox programs that are specifically designed for certain drugs; opioid detox and alcohol detox, for example.

Drug Detox Methods

There are several different drug detox approaches. These include:

  • Short-term medicated detox
  • Long-term medicated detox
  • Cold turkey detox – A person stops using a drug with nothing more than medical supervision in case an emergency arises.

The type of method depends on a person’s specific addiction; it varies from person to person. The type of drug(s) the addict was using, the length of time the addict was using the drug(s) and the level of dependency will help determine what type of detox method will be the most effective.

If you or a loved one is dependent on drugs, we are here to help you. Please contact us today to learn more about our drug detox programs.