The Need for Detox
Alcohol and drugs, such as opioids and benzodiazepines, cause chemical and physical changes to the brain. These substances are highly addictive, both physically and psychologically.
According to the most recent National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), more than 20 million people in the United States struggled with a substance use disorder in 2019.
Alcohol, heroin, and prescription drugs, including painkillers and sedatives, should not be stopped suddenly, or cold turkey, once a physical dependence has formed. Medical detox is a better option.
It can provide a safe and stable way to process the drugs out of the brain and body while managing difficult withdrawal symptoms in a secure environment.
Why Medical Detox?
Alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepine drugs all make changes to the way your brain works, essentially building a shortcut to pleasure. The pleasure sensors in your brain are altered, as is the brain’s chemical makeup. You will begin to crave substances to feel pleasure.
Continued use of drugs or alcohol builds tolerance. This requires that you take more and more of the substance to feel any effects.
With repeated use of alcohol and/or drugs, your brain comes to expect these substances. It will no longer function normally without them.
Physical dependence can occur. This means that when the substance is no longer in your system, you experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
In the case of alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines, withdrawal can be very difficult and also life-threatening, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) warns.
Physical dependence is not the same as addiction. However, it can be one of the signs of a substance use disorder.
Psychological dependence often comes with physical dependence. Cravings and an intense need to keep taking drugs can be the result. It can then become incredibly difficult to stop using drugs or drinking alcohol.
Medical detox can help to reduce cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms. This can help you become medically stable while setting up for therapy.
Once you are physically and psychologically dependent on a substance, medical detox is the best option to offer stabilization. You can get the necessary support in a safe environment so you are ready to begin drug abuse treatment.
Not all drug treatment facilities have the staff, training, or ability to offer medical detox.
Potentially Dangerous Withdrawal Symptoms
Medical detox can help to manage withdrawal symptoms, which can be difficult, uncomfortable, and even potentially deadly without help.
Withdrawal symptoms can range in severity and type, depending on the type of drug used, how often it was used, and how long it was used for. They can include the following:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion and trouble concentrating
- Sleep difficulties
- Muscle aches and bone pain
- Chills and goosebumps
- Irregular heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
- Trouble feeling pleasure
A severe form of withdrawal that can be fatal is called delirium tremens (DTs). It can include psychosis, high fever, and seizures.
Medical detox uses medications to manage drug and alcohol withdrawal safely. Once physical dependence to a substance sets in, medically managed withdrawal and detox is often the optimal first step in a treatment program, NIDA states.
Medical Detox at the Pompano Beach Center
The Pompano Beach Center in Florida puts your medical needs first when it comes to detox. The luxurious setting is staffed by highly trained professionals who are attentive to your specific needs.
Medications can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms and keep you stable during detox. The Pompano Beach Center can also provide Medication-Assisted-Treatment (MAT) for more long-term maintenance of opioid and alcohol use disorders.
Medications used during medical detox and MAT may include:
- Methadone.This medication is used by certified opioid treatment programs as a low-level opioid that can help to taper clients off more potent and stronger opioid drugs.
- Buprenorphine.This medication is similar to methadone, but it can be prescribed outside of a clinic setting.
- Combination products. Containing both a low-dose opioid, such as buprenorphine, and an opioid antagonist, such as naloxone, these products can help people to maintain recovery by keeping withdrawal symptoms and cravings at bay with their abuse-deterrent formula.
- Mood stabilizers. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help to regulate mental health during detox and withdrawal.
- Sleep aids. These are often beneficial during detox to manage sleep issues.
- Gastrointestinal medications. These can help calm the stomach.
- AnalgesicsThese include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain medications.
- Additional medications. These may be used to control heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure.
The use of medications during detox and recovery can help to maintain recovery on a long-term basis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains.
Safety of Medical Detox
When done in a specialized medical detox facility with trained professional staff, medical detox can help you safely withdraw from drugs and/or alcohol.
The environment needs to be calm, safe, and secure. Ideally, the program will provide a highly structured schedule to allow the drugs to process safely out of your body.
Medical detox typically lasts between 3 and 10 days, depending on the type of drug in your system and the level and severity of dependence on it.
As a comprehensive program, medical detox aims to achieve medical stabilization first. Once you are stable enough medically, and the bulk of the withdrawal symptoms have been managed, you can move on to a comprehensive drug rehab program.
Steps After Detox
Again, medical detox can manage the intense and acute symptoms of drug withdrawal by using medications to achieve stability. NIDA explains that this is only the first step of drug addiction treatment, however, and it should be followed with a complete program that can support you into long-term recovery.
This program should include:
- Continued medication management, when necessary.
- Individual and group therapy and counseling sessions.
- Evidence-based treatment modalities.
- Peer and support groups.
- Management of any co-occurring mental health and medical issues.
After detox, you will need to transition into a drug rehab program that can offer ongoing support and encouragement.
While medical detox helps to stabilize you physically from drug dependence, a substance use disorder also impacts you psychologically. Often, addiction is accompanied by mental health conditions and other issues.
A comprehensive drug rehab program can provide you with the tools needed to manage your cravings and potential triggers, enhance your self-awareness and self-esteem, and build coping mechanisms and tools to use in recovery. You can find this assistance at the Pompano Beach Center.
We can help you transition you from medical detox into our residential treatment program. In treatment, you’ll learn to identify and manage your substance abuse and any underlying mental health concerns.
- Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. (September 2020). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
- Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction: What’s the Difference? (January 2017). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
- Delirium Tremens. (August 2021). U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
- Types of Treatment Programs. (January 2018). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
- Recovery Is Possible. (August 2020). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Principles of Effective Treatment. (January 2018). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).