When individuals develop a habit of persistently taking drugs or alcohol, their continuous intake of these substances can cause their cellular chemical structure to undergo changes such that the addictive substance becomes an integral part of the cells’ chemistry requiring detox treatment to break change them back. This results in physical dependence because the body cannot now function correctly without the addictive substance being present. Dependency and physical addiction are virtually the same thing in that they both mean people will have a very difficult time trying to quit. Medical detox treatments are available to surmount this problem and help build patients a strong foundation for recovery.
It is best to seek detox treatments in dedicated addiction treatment facilities, ideally on a residential treatment basis. Full scale medical detox is only available in treatment centers. An important component of this type of detox is that patients are continuously monitored, and dosages can be increased or reduced depending on how the patient is reacting.
It is hard to overstate the trauma of unassisted withdrawal. Even in the caring environment of an addiction treatment center, where experienced staff will be on hand at all times to lend moral and physical support, withdrawal can be very difficult. Using medications to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms can be the deciding factor in why addicts get through withdrawal without relapsing.
Types of detox treatments
Detox is all about getting all of an addictive substance out of patients’ systems. The way this is achieved will depend on what addictive substances patients are quitting. In general, there are three different approaches. Addicts may:
be weaned or tapered off the addictive substance
be offered an alternative, but safer, drug of the same class
quit taking the substance entirely.
There is a widespread belief that the third option is the one most commonly used in dedicated treatment centers, but this is not correct. Abrupt cessation of addictive substances can be fatal, and addiction specialists must look for ways to help people get clean safely. Alcoholics will most often be expected to quit taking alcohol from the start of treatment because they can be given high doses of tranquilizers that will suppress the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
This is clearly not an option for people trying to quit tranquilizers, so they must be weaned off. Prescription opioid addicts may also be weaned off. In the most severe cases of opioid addiction, drug swapping is used. For example, heroin addicts will be placed on methadone. This will suppress withdrawal, and methadone is a safer drug than heroin. Although it is also addictive, it does not give a high like heroin does, and addicts do not need to take it as often.
The principle behind using methadone is that at some future stage addicts can be weaned off methadone, or it can be swapped for yet another opioid like Suboxone, a drug that is also used as an alternative opioid.
Other medications used in detox treatments
Medical detox tackles withdrawal on all fronts. Therefore, addicts may be given naltrexone, bupropion or disulfram to curb cravings. Neurontin might be used to manage seizures. People can get drugs to lower blood pressure and heart rate, and to control other symptoms like nausea and vomiting. The aim is to make the withdrawal process as comfortable as possible.
Detox treatments in residential facilities are safer and more effective than trying to quit without help, or doing detox at home. Medical detox in a secure environment with 24-hour supervision greatly reduces the risk of an early relapse. Call addiction detox treatment specialists today and get help finding the path to recovery.