Detox Program

Detox Program

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Drug & Alcohol Detox Treatment

Detoxification is the elimination of any drugs or alcohol from the body under a controlled setting in order to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. Alcohol and drug detoxification is the first step in treating an individual with substance abuse. Detoxification is usually part of residential treatment and individuals who are currently under the influence or at risk of withdrawal symptoms must undergo detoxification from drugs and/or alcohol at a detox facility before they can be fully integrated into a long-term drug and alcohol treatment program.

Who should enroll in a Detox Program?

Individuals who are struggling with an alcohol addiction or drug addiction should undergo some form of treatment at a detox facility. Individuals who are physically dependent on drugs or alcohol will eventually feel like they must take more of the drug over time in order to experience the same high as before. When the drug is withdrawn, dependent individuals will often experience a host of mental and physical health symptoms that are uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Medically assisted detox is most appropriate for people with substance dependencies involving:

  • Alcohol
  • Hypnotic/sedative drugs like barbiturates and benzodiazepines
  • Opioids like heroin, morphine, and prescription pain medication

What is the length of a Detoxification Program?

Depending on the specific drug of abuse and the duration of use, the detoxification process can take three to six days on average however for some individuals this process can last for a couple of weeks. Therefore there is no set timeframe for detox to be completed as it solely depends on each individual.

What happens in a detox program?

During this initial stage of recovery, medications are administered to the client in a controlled setting to manage physical withdrawal symptoms and to prevent any life-threatening withdrawal effects. Life-threatening withdrawal symptoms can occur in individuals who are detoxing from benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Klonopin) and alcohol as both of these substances can result in withdrawal seizures when either alcohol or benzodiazepines; are rapidly eliminated from the body. Opioid withdrawal, although not life-threatening, can be extremely unpleasant with very painful physical withdrawal symptoms and as a result, many individuals will seek out opioids in order to curb these unwelcoming side effects.

What is medical detox?

Medical detoxification is a specific form of detoxification that helps deal with the severe physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping drug use by providing the client with long-acting small doses of medications that are similar in nature to their drug of abuse. Medical detox varies among each client depending on the following factors:

  • The type of drug abused
  • The duration of the use/abuse of the substance
  • Amount of drug consumed on a daily basis
  • Biological differences such as weight, gender, age and psychological well being

Medications are given to lessen the side effects of withdrawal symptoms most commonly for opioid abuse, alcohol abuse and benzodiazepine abuse. Medical detoxification is a systematic process that aims to wean the client off of psychoactive substances in a safe and stable environment, typically under the close supervision and care of a physician. Most detoxification treatment programs occur in an inpatient or residential setting to ensure that the treatment team can monitor the client around the clock. The client is placed in a tranquil and comfortable environment where noise is kept to a minimum and electronic devices are not allowed. This is to ensure that the client is relaxed as much as possible while being provided the best treatment as this process can be extremely taxing both mentally and physically on the client. Some of the medications used in medical detox include:

  • Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin): Administered to prevent seizures in individuals undergoing alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal.
  • Methadone/Suboxone: Opioid agonists that are approved to ease the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. These substances provide mild opiate effects but because they are longer lasting in the body, they do not provide the full euphoric highs or debilitating lows that come with stronger opioids like heroin.
  • Clonidine: Used to relieve some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms without producing a high or any intoxicating effects during opioid detox (it can be helpful during nicotine detox as well).

What happens after detox?

It is important to keep in mind that medical detoxification is only the first step in the addiction treatment process and does not hold the potential to treat long-term drug use that affects the client at a much more deeper, psychological and emotional level. Many people confuse detoxification with rehabilitation, but this is most definitely not accurate. Recovery from addiction is an all-inclusive approach that helps clients deal with addiction at all mental, physical, social and psychological levels. Once the client is successfully weaned from the abused substance he or she will enter a treatment program that will treat the psychological and emotional aspects of their addiction.

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