Drug addictions are easy to acquire and hard to get rid of. This is because many drugs are highly addictive. Once a person develops a drug addiction, he or she will likely need to attend drug detox followed by addiction treatment to become sober again.
Drug detox is the process of ridding the body of all substances. The purpose of drug detox is to get the body to become sober and stable again prior to attending addiction treatment.
Drug detox can be quite dangerous. This is because getting rid of all the substances that the human body has been dependent on to function for an extended period of time causes the body to act out. As a result, the body will experience withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that they cause the body to shut down, and possibly die.
That’s why it’s important to only perform a drug detox at a professional detox facility. The best form of professional drug detox is a medical drug detox.
Medical drug detox is professional drug detox that is supervised by doctors and a medical staff. Medical drug detox is the best form of drug detox because having doctors and a medical team on standby assisting individuals that are going through drug detox dramatically reduces the possibility of the body shutting down due to withdrawal symptoms.
In fact, the chances of that happening while attending medical drug detox are slim to none.
This is because the doctors and medical staff at a medical drug detox will prescribe medication to help individuals manage any severe withdrawal symptoms.
Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is when doctors treat the withdrawal symptoms that individuals experience during medical drug detox with prescription medications. MAT is often necessary to safely stabilize a person’s body during drug detox.
There are certain types of medications that doctors use to treat withdrawal symptoms during drug detox. These medications include:
Some substances are more addictive than others and thus cause more severe withdrawal symptoms when detoxing. As a result, individuals that are detoxing from such substances are advised to receive MAT.
Examples of substances that require MAT during drug detox include:
Doctors prescribe acamprosate, disulfiram, or naltrexone to individuals that are detoxing from alcohol. Doctors prescribe buprenorphine, methadone, naltrexone, naloxone, and suboxone to treat opioid withdrawals, including heroin.
As previously mentioned, due to the addictive nature of substances, individuals that are detoxing from them experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s response to no longer having substances that it has been dependent on for an extended period of time.
Withdrawal symptoms are often physical but can be mental and emotional as well. Drug withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the substance that individuals are detoxing from and even the amount of time that people have been detoxing.
Heroin is technically a type of opioid. Therefore, the withdrawal symptoms of heroin and other opioids are very similar.
While heroin is an illegal opioid, many opioids are prescription drugs that people use to relieve themselves of pain. Thus, many individuals develop an addiction to opioids due to taking too many opioid pills in an attempt to relieve more of their pain quicker. Another probable reason is because they are taking prescription opioid medications for too long of a period of time because they still feel pain and fear no longer taking the drug. Other individuals just purposely choose to misuse prescription opioids due to their euphoric effects.
Acute opioid withdrawal symptoms include:
Short-acting opioid withdrawal symptoms begin around 8-24 hours after the last time that a person has used the substance and lasts for an average of 4-10 days. Examples drugs that induce short-acting opioid withdrawal symptoms include heroin and certain prescription painkillers.
Longer-acting opioid withdrawal symptoms begin around 2-4 days after the last time that the substance was used and lasts for around 10 days. Examples of longer-acting opioids include methadone.
Benzodiazepines are a central nervous system depressant. People often use benzodiazepines to treat anxiety, panic disorders, or anxiety disorders.
Doctors also prescribe benzodiazepines to treat muscle spasms. This is due to the relaxing effect that benzodiazepine has on the muscles and the body. Common benzodiazepines include Xanax, Vlaium, Ativan, Klonopin, Librium, and Valium.
Possible benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms typically begin within one to four days after the last use. Benzodiazepine withdrawal tends to peak around two weeks after the last use, though. Protracted benzodiazepine withdrawal can last months or years.
Alcohol is another central nervous system depressant. Therefore common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as a couple of hours after the last drink that a person has had. The alcohol withdrawal symptom of delirium tremens may not start for another few days though. Although alcohol is one of the most accessible and commonly misused substances, because of the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, doctors must monitor individuals detoxing from the substance.
Quitting alcohol and drug use cold turkey can increase the severity of withdrawal symptoms and shock the body into a dangerous state that could lead to death. Thus, the safest way to perform drug detox is to taper a person’s use of substances. Tapering refers to slowly decreasing the amount of substances that a person is using until he or she is no longer using or is dependent on any substance.
Drug detox occurs in three main steps. These steps are evaluation, stabilization, and transition to treatment.
During the evaluation stage of drug detox, doctors and a medical team will assess the patient’s physical and mental state. A medical team will also administer a comprehensive, multi-paneled test to all individuals entering drug detox to see what drugs are within their bodies’ system and how much of the drugs are present. Based on the results of the evaluation stage of drug detox, MAT is necessary or not.
The stabilization stage of medical drug detox is the stage at which patients are actively ridding their bodies of substances. During this stage of medical drug detox, individuals will experience withdrawal symptoms. Thus, it’s also during this stage of medical drug detox that individuals will receive MAT.
Doctors and a medical team along with addiction treatment specialists and mental health counselors will monitor every moment during this stage of medical drug detox. All of these medical, addiction treatment, and mental health professionals will do whatever they can to make drug detox as comfortable as possible. This includes providing mental support, sleep accommodations, and regular meals on top of any necessary MAT.
The third and final stage of drug detox is a transition to treatment. At this point in the drug detox process, the bodies of patients are stable. Therefore, addiction treatment specialists will support drug detox patients by advising them on what they need to do next while entering drug addiction treatment. Individuals with any lingering withdrawal symptoms may still be able to receive some form of MAT to help them cope as they transition into treatment.
Once individuals complete drug detox, they should enter drug addiction treatment. The form of drug addiction treatment that patients enter depends on the severity of their addictions.
Individuals with severe addictions will enter either standard inpatient or residential inpatient drug addiction treatment. Both forms of inpatient treatment require their patients to live in the rehab facilities while receiving care. This is so that they can receive 24/7 care and monitoring. Also, both inpatient and residential drug addiction treatment lasts anywhere from 30 days to a year, depending on the patient’s needs.
The main difference between inpatient and residential treatment is that standard inpatient treatment is more structured than residential treatment. Therefore, residential treatment patients get more free time to themselves than standard inpatient treatment patients. Residential treatment patients also get to partake in more holistic treatment activities than standard inpatient treatment patients.
Outpatient forms of drug addiction treatment don’t require their patients to live in rehab facilities while receiving care. This means that outpatient treatment patients get to live in the comfort of their own homes when not receiving treatment. Thus, the severity of outpatient drug addiction treatment patients is less than that of inpatient drug addiction treatment patients.
There are three forms of outpatient drug addiction treatment. The most intensive form of outpatient drug addiction treatment is partial hospitalization program (PHP) treatment. PHP treatment requires its patients to attend rehab for five to eight hours a day, five to seven days a week. Individuals that receive PHP drug addiction treatment typically have moderate to severe addictions.
The second most intensive form of outpatient drug addiction treatment is intensive outpatient program (IOP) treatment. This form of drug addiction treatment requires patients to attend rehab for a few hours a day, a few days a week. Individuals that attend IOP drug addiction treatment usually have moderate-level addictions.
The third and least intensive form of outpatient drug addiction treatment is standard outpatient program (OP) treatment. This form of drug addiction treatment requires its patients to receive care for a couple of hours, once or twice a week. Individuals that attend OP drug addiction treatment usually have mild drug addictions.
Grace Land Recovery is a dual diagnosis treatment center located in the Memphis, Tennessee area that helps individuals overcome both their substance use and mental health disorders. As a treatment center that treats individuals with substance use disorders, we understand the value of drug detox. That’s why we advise that all individuals attend medical drug detox prior to receiving addiction treatment.
Once individuals do complete drug detox, we’re here to provide them with the addiction treatment and therapy services that they need to maintain sobriety long-term. To learn more about Grace Land Recovery and the various addiction treatments, therapies, and services that we offer, contact us today!