What Exactly is Medical Detoxification?
A medically supervised detox can help you or your loved one withdraw in a safe environment with trained clinicians. It’s a common misconception that any type of detox will be effective. Some people try to quit drugs and alcohol on their own, while others may think a day or two of detox will be effective.
Unfortunately, most people don’t consider the withdrawal symptoms that occur after abruptly stopping substance abuse. While it may seem like detoxing on your own is a great idea, it can put you at risk of relapse or deadly overdose. The physical, mental, and emotional effects from withdrawal often requires medical attention from a board certified doctor or psychiatrist.
The Two Stages of Withdrawal
The withdrawal symptoms from drugs and alcohol abuse can be horrifying. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on the drug(s) of choice and the length of time abused. There are two phases of withdrawal symptoms, the acute stage and the post-acute withdrawal stage.
In the acute stage you will see more physical symptoms that can last from days to weeks. In the post-acute withdrawal stage the physical symptoms will subside, but you may experience more emotional and psychological symptoms that can last for weeks to months.
Remember, the following withdrawal symptoms often vary based on the drug abused and the length of use:
Acute Withdrawal Symptoms
- Flu-like symptoms from heroin or prescription painkillers
- Tremors and seizures from alcohol abuse
- Sweating and hot flashes
- Paranoia and hallucinations
- Increased sensitivity to pain
Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms
- Anxiety from benzos (xanax, valium)
- Depression and restlessness from cocaine
- Irritability and increased aggression
- Mood swings
- Fluctuating energy
- Inability to concentrate for long
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances
Common Medications for Drug and Alcohol Detox
Medications are used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and treat co-occurring disorders. Depending on the type of detox and if a person is detoxing from multiple drugs, some medications are used more than others.
Naltrexone can be used to treat alcohol dependence or opioid abuse. Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors in the brain. It’s responsible for blocking the euphoric effects of alcohol or opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers. Methadone and buprenorphine are also used to inhibit opioid receptors but helps to reduce cravings.
Acamprosate may be used to reduce the post-acute withdrawal symptoms from alcohol such as insomnia, mood swings, restlessness, anxiety, and dysphoria. This may be more commonly used with clients who have a more severe addiction.
Disulfiram is also used to help clients with withdrawal symptoms from alcohol. Disulfiram helps to fight against the toxic chemical, acetalhyde, which results in physical symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and irregular heartbeat.
Detox and Begin Treatment Today
Whether you are reading this for yourself or a loved one, receiving a medical detox by licensed medical doctors and psychiatrists can be the difference between life and death. There is no “easy way” to detox from drugs and alcohol. Effective substance abuse treatment requires physiological and psychological treatment for at least 3-6 months, while detox can last from days to weeks.
At Transformations Treatment Center, we take care of our clients from the moment admissions answers their call to the moment they transition in and out of treatment. As clients transition from detox they can transition into our partial hospitalization program and outpatient program. Our experienced and compassionate staff of doctors, nurses, therapists, and admissions coordinators all work together to see that you leave our facility prepared to thrive in recovery in the real world. If you or a loved one is seeking a reputable drug detox facility, reach out to us today and call our admissions team at (888) 995-5265.