Drug detox is often a critical component of any solid drug rehab program. It is the process of ridding the body of harmful toxins that are present because of the individual’s drug use. It helps by reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms as well as by lowering the risk of possible complications, which can be a direct result of withdrawal.
Going through drug detox should be the very first step a person takes during addiction recovery. It is important to address withdrawal symptoms first to ensure the safety of the patient.
Understanding the Need for Drug Detox: Withdrawal Symptoms
The types of withdrawal symptoms a person might experience during recovery will vary based on their drug(s) of choice. But there are certain symptoms that are common with many substances. They include:
- Cravings and urges
- Nausea and vomiting
- Symptoms of depression
- Symptoms of anxiety
- Shakiness in the extremities
- Brain fog
- Memory problems
Sometimes withdrawal can become severe, which can result in dangerous symptoms like:
- Heart palpitations
- High or low blood pressure
- Fluctuations in body temperature
- A risk of stroke
- A risk of heart attack
- Suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviors
What Types of Drug Detox Programs are Available?
There are several different types of drug detox programs available to help people through the withdrawal stage of recovery. While people should choose what they believe will work best for them, there are some that are more highly recommended than others.
Inpatient Drug Detox
Inpatient detox centers offer medically-supervised programs that can help people through every stage of withdrawal. Some drugs require this level of care, and they include:
Most inpatient drug detox programs provide their patients with therapy as they go through the detoxification process. This is important because it can help them to talk about what they are going through with a professional as well as with a group of their peers.
Outpatient Drug Detox
Outpatient drug detox is available, though it is generally not the best option for someone who is new to treatment. Some outpatient recovery programs offer it as an option along with strict rules that must be followed for the duration.
Sometimes people begin the detoxification process on an inpatient basis and then they continue it as an outpatient. This can work well for people who are addicted to opioids for example. Methadone and suboxone are two medications for opioid withdrawal that are often dispensed on an outpatient basis.
When people go through withdrawal, they want to get through it as quickly as possible. Withdrawal symptoms are very hard to deal with, and they can be both physically and psychologically draining.
Rapid detox is a way of detoxing the body quickly through the use of medications. The patient takes certain medications to help withdrawal happen quicker than they would normally. Once symptoms begin, the patient is given additional medications to treat them.
Ultra-rapid Drug Detox
Ultra-rapid detox is very similar to rapid detox in that withdrawal is brought on and treated in a short timeframe. The main difference is that with ultra-rapid detox, the patient is given general anesthesia as they go through withdrawal. The theory is that when they wake up, their symptoms will have passed and they will feel much better.
Both rapid and ultra-rapid detox are questionable as far as their level of safety goes. Most experts do not recommend them for this reason.
Common Treatments Used During Drug Detox
When a person begins an inpatient drug detox program, they are usually given two different types of treatment for withdrawal. They may go through medical detox as well as receive holistic treatments for their symptoms. A combination of both is usually necessary and beneficial.
Medical detox involves the use of medications to aid in the recovery process. This type of program is always medically-supervised so that staff members can intervene in the event of a complication or emergency.
There are some medications that have been FDA approved specifically to treat withdrawal from certain drugs. This is called medication assisted treatment, or MAT. Opioids and alcohol are excellent examples.
People who are addicted to opioids may be offered any of the following:
People with alcohol use disorder may be prescribed Vivitrol, Gabapentin for seizures, Valium, or one of many other medications that are approved to treat alcohol withdrawal.
But medications alone are usually not enough to help people get through withdrawal quickly and safely. Holistic treatments offer a more natural approach. They harness the body’s ability to detox itself while improving a person’s overall health at the same time.
Nutrition therapy is often provided to people as they go through withdrawal. The human body is very capable of detoxing itself well as long as it is healthy enough to do so. Most people with addictions are not eating proper diets, and some may not be eating at all. This can be very taxing on the liver and kidneys, and it is their job to detox the body. Nutrition therapy can help to re-institute a healthy diet, which allows the body to function as it was designed to function.
Physical exercise is also frequently recommended for people going through drug detox. The body releases toxins through sweat, which aids in the recovery process. Exercising also results in the release of endorphins, which produce a “natural high” that can help people feel better faster.
Drug Detox: Step One in Addiction Recovery
Withdrawal symptoms have been known to cause relapses in people who are incredibly dedicated to recovering from their addictions. Drug detox is a tool that can help them reach their goals of living a life that is free from any type of drug use.