What Is Medical Detox?
Medical detox (also known as medically assisted detox) is a multipronged approach of breaking a person’s dependence on addictive drugs or alcohol. This entails controlling withdrawal symptoms, which are often painful and traumatic, raising the possibility that the person might want to resume their drug intake to alleviate their distress.
Medical detox, when done properly, helps the person through this process while rebuilding their body with vital nutrients that were lost as a result of substance abuse.
The process of medical detox is carried out with the supervision of trained medical professionals. If the patient goes through any distress, or if there is a negative reaction to any of the medications administered as part of the process, doctors and nurses can intervene to address whatever is impeding the expected progression of treatment. Staff can increase, change, or discontinue medication as necessary, or provide other forms of comfort and support to help the person.
Healing the Body & Brain
Medical detox is necessary because of how substance abuse changes the chemical and neural processes of normal brain functioning. When the addictive substances are removed, multiple systems in the brain (chemical, hormonal, and neural) are thrown into disarray, trying to compensate in the absence of the drugs or alcohol that had been flooding the central nervous system with chemical compounds. This state of emergency manifests in symptoms like muscle cramps, nausea, fever and chills, depression, and fatigue — all the recognizable signs of drug withdrawal.
Certain substances, like alcohol, can have such damaging withdrawal symptoms that people can die. Other substances, such as opioids, do not have directly fatal withdrawal symptoms, but they can put the body under such strain that death can be caused by other factors, especially if the patient has a co-occurring condition.
Detoxing from drug and alcohol abuse can be a complicated process that should not be attempted alone. Medical detox, like that offered at Boca Recovery Center in Galloway, is vitally important to properly address the rehabilitative needs of an individual.
Medical detox doesn’t just stop at breaking the physical dependence on drugs and/or alcohol. It also addresses the emotional and psychological needs of a person coming out of the shadow of addiction. This can entail Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, group therapy, 12-step support, and other forms of aftercare.
Suboxone & Buprenorphine
The point of medical detox is to control withdrawal symptoms as much as possible. How specifically to do this depends on the nature of the drug use and the person’s own medical profile.
In cases of opioid abuse, a popular choice is Suboxone, a brand-name version of buprenorphine. Both Suboxone and its generic counterpart are prescribed for patients experiencing opioid withdrawal, whether from prescribed medications OxyContin or hydrocodone, or illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl.
During medical detox, Suboxone or buprenorphine is administered to suppress the symptoms that come from opioid withdrawal, so the patient does not try to break their recovery by reusing opioids. Buprenorphine and Suboxone are both opioids, but they are not as potent as other opioids. This allows doctors to gradually wean patients off their need for more opioids, with the idea of tapering their dependence down in the long term.
Buprenorphine and Suboxone should be used with care. Because they are both opioids, they have been known to cause a form of rebound addiction in patients who still require rehabilitation. At the Boca Recovery Center, doctors and nurses are on hand to ensure that the administration and use of Suboxone is well within recommended limits for a patient’s needs.
The Importance of Therapy
What comes after medical detox is as important as the detoxification procedure itself. Most opioid detox regimens take about a week. In cases of severe dependence, this might be longer. Some people remain on MAT for months or years.
When medical staff are satisfied that the person is stable, therapy will begin. Generally, the physical dependence on opioids has been brought under control, and the patient has had sufficient rest and nourishment. Then, the therapy stage of treatment can begin.
Therapy — in the form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, group therapy, family therapy, 12-step groups, and other forms — addresses the causes behind the person’s psychological dependence on opioids, as well as teaches the person how to cope with and manage the psychological damage from opioid addiction. This is to help the person learn how they can control the thought patterns associated with opioid misuse — everything from boredom to stress — and change that behavior into something that is positive (at best) or neutral (at worst).
Without therapy, medical detox can set people up to relapse when they are confronted with situations that precipitated their past opioid abuse. Many people continue to participate in group therapy and 12-step programs long after their formal rehabilitation has ended. They enjoy the camaraderie with others in recovery, and the accountability fostered in these groups helps them keep their cravings in check.
Medical Detox at Boca Recovery Center
Boca Recovery Center offers a variety of treatment options, depending on a client’s needs. For example, one arrangement is residential treatment, for long-term rehabilitation (typically 90 days or longer). This is meant for those who have experienced severe opioid and drug dependence, and who need a greater degree of therapy and time before they can be safely reintegrated into normal living. These clients may have to relearn vital life skills, such as communication, holding down a job, and other ways of interacting with family members or the public.
There is also partial hospitalization at Boca, for those who need similar intensive rehabilitation for opioid or other drug use but are capable of living independently or engaging in daily activities as they get ready to resume living in a community. Unlike those in residential treatment, clients in partial hospitalization do not need round-the-clock supervision. They have some degree of freedom and autonomy in their daily lives, but they must still attend 12-step meetings and regularly check in with their sponsors. Additionally, they are expected to participate in daily treatment sessions, including on Saturdays.
Another form of treatment at Boca is intensive outpatient, or IOP. Clients are taught relapse-prevention strategies, but they are trusted to live and function on their own recognizance. There is still a schedule that clients are expected to adhere to. There is no residential or community housing component, and they are free to live in their own homes or a sober living facility while continuing to attend rehabilitation sessions a minimum of three days a week.
Finally, Boca offers outpatient treatment, where clients attend regular therapy sessions a few times a week. Those who have families or full-time jobs or school, and whose opioid use was not severe or debilitating, may benefit the most from outpatient treatment.
Boca Recovery Center offers all these options, so clients can connect with the treatment method that works best for them and their families.
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