Drug Addictions That Require Medical Detox

Written by Chloe Nicosia

When is a Medical Detox Needed?

Once a person has become dependent on an addictive substance such as alcohol, heroin or cocaine, the withdrawal symptoms can be one of the factors that drive them to continue their substance abuse. In 2009, only about 11.2 percent of the people that suffered from an addiction went to a rehab facility for treatment. A medical detox program can make the withdrawal symptoms far easier to deal with, helping to ease the patient through their recovery.

In this article, we will explore what withdrawal symptoms are and what happens in detox.

What are Withdrawal Symptoms?

When a person becomes dependent on a substance, their brain chemistry undergoes changes due to the continued presence of a drug.  For example, a person dependent on opioid pain relievers will have impaired production of “feel good” chemicals in the brain. This happens because the body is trying to balance its chemistry with the abundance of the substance present. When use stops, the sudden change in chemistry causes several withdrawal symptoms as the brain tries to normalize again.

Specific withdrawal symptoms vary mainly based on the type of drug that was abused. The severity of the symptoms can also be affected by the amount of the substance that was taken regularly and the duration of the dependence.

What is a Medical Detox?

A medical detoxification is the term used for a detox where the acute symptoms of withdrawal are managed with the use of medications. The medications used require a prescription and can only be given by a qualified doctor. During a medical detox, a patient is under constant medical supervision in a controlled setting to ensure the safest recovery possible.

Some of the medications are weaker forms of the same type of substance that was abused in order to slowly wean the person off the drug while others help to reduce the symptoms such as anxiety or depression. A medical detoxification is usually performed at a rehab center.

When is a Medical Detox Needed?

Not all substance addictions require a medical detox. Depending on the severity of the addiction, a medical detoxification may not be necessary.

In general, this form of detox is used in the majority of heroin, prescription pain relievers, stimulants and alcohol addiction treatments. These substances are some of the most difficult to quit and have some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms than can be fatal if not closely monitored by professionals. If you or a loved one suffers from an addiction to one of these substances, it is highly advised that you seek professional help before attempting a detox.

What Happens in Detox?

Dealing with the withdrawal symptoms can be one of the most difficult times during recovery. A person entering into a medically assisted detox program at rehab can expect to have far easier time dealing with the symptoms due to the medications used.

In each detox, different medications are used to help the patient cope. They are as follows:

  • Opioids – In a medically assisted opiate detox, the most effective medications used include methadone, clonidine and buprenorphine. A medically assisted opiate detox can help to shorten the duration of the symptoms with the use of buprenorphine and help to prevent relapse with medications such as naltrexone.
  • Alcohol – Diazepam, phenobarbitals, lorazepam and chlordiazepoxide are most commonly used in alcohol detox, helping to reduce symptoms such as depression.
  • Stimulants – Since drugs like cocaine have similar depressant properties as alcohol, many of the same medications are used including diazepam, benzodiazepines and desipramine.

A medical detoxification may be one of the best ways to overcome an addiction to certain substances, but it is not a cure to addiction – further therapy and treatment is required to obtain long-term recovery. If you’re struggling with addiction, contact Better Addiction Care today. We’ll help you find the right treatment program for your needs. Call us at 1.800.429.7690.