Drug and alcohol detox refers to the abstinence from these substances, giving the body the time to get rid of the toxic residues that may have accumulated either directly or indirectly through their prolonged use. Sudden stoppage of the use of any drug can trigger symptoms that may be as dangerous as using the drug. Side effects may also be severe and may cause intense cravings for the drug or alcohol. The risks associated with detox depend on the overall health condition of the patient and the severity and length of the use of drugs and alcohol. This experience by itself is very unpleasant and is cited as one of the main reasons why addicts dread the detoxification process.
Enrolling into improperly managed recovery programs may lead to relapsing into drug and alcohol abuse all over again. Individuals, friends and family members may not be of much assistance to help an addict quit the bad habit. A drug or alcohol treatment program, on the other hand, encompasses a total mind and body treatment that is designed to tackle the physical as well as psychological disorders that come along with addiction.
Drug and alcohol detox, when conducted under medical supervision tends to be a professionally managed process and safe enough for the addict to recover. Drug and alcohol detox programs are conducted as either inpatient or outpatient programs. Whether an addict should attend an inpatient or outpatient program depends on the severity of the addiction and is decided by the consulting doctor.
Drug and alcohol detox programs are conducted in facilities that have comprehensive medical support to deal with routine procedures and emergencies that may arise during the detox phase. The clients are given comprehensive knowledge about how their bodies will react to the withdrawal process which makes them better placed to cope with the physical and mental distress that they may undergo. The cost of drug and alcohol detox programs in such facilities depend on the length of stay, the consultations, the medications required, and testing and other procedures.
Some drugs such as alcohol, opiates, and tranquilizers produce a significant amount of physical withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, palpitations, slowed down breathing, chills, etc. Other drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy, or cocaine give rise to emotional withdrawal symptoms that may include anxiety, insomnia, paranoia, depression, etc.
Suddenly stopping tranquilizer drugs or alcohol can give rise to very serious consequences in high-risk patients. They can have strokes, heart attacks or seizures. A detox program that is medically supervised can minimize such risks.
The first stage of withdrawal is the acute stage that lasts for weeks and is then followed by the post-acute stage. Whereas in the acute stage more physical symptoms of withdrawal are felt, in the post-acute stage, physical symptoms lessen and emotional symptoms are more prominently felt. The neural and hormonal systems are in conflict after the withdrawal which causes the psychological symptoms in the post-acute stage.
Benzadiazepines are widely used to counter the withdrawal symptoms of cocaine and methamphetamine. By nature, this class of medicines is also addictive so their administration is carefully monitored. Methadone is used to treat heroin addicts. It is has been observed that this keeps them away from criminal behavior. This medication is used even for pregnant women who are addicts under medical supervision.
Quitting cold turkey is recommended by some detox programs. Modern medicine does have some pharmacological tools to combat the physical pain and suffering when drugs are suddenly stopped. There are medications that can even stop the patient from getting into a relapse.
Cocaine and methamphetamine addicts are more difficult to treat. Neuroleptic drugs are being used to treat symptoms of psychosis and cocaine-withdrawal-related depressions in detox centers. Vitamin C is being used to counter the effects of the prescription stimulants for methamphetamine addicts who are on the road to recovery. Calcium channel blockers are also use in treating addiction to certain drugs.
Alcohol detox is generally accomplished in an inpatient medical facility. A detox program is more likely to be successful if the preparation has been complete. The first part of the detox program aims at bringing the patient to a mental condition that makes them ready to change their drinking behavior. The patients are then provided extensive details about the detoxification program, that is, what to expect during the sessions.
Withdrawal can be categorized into two: major and minor. Whereas minor signifies early withdrawal, major refers to late withdrawal. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms greatly depends on the duration for which alcohol was used.
Alcohol detox serves to relieve physical withdrawal symptoms such as tremors, nausea, insomnia, loss of appetite, among many others. Alcohol detox medications are similar to drug detox medications. An alcohol detox program may have a span of about two weeks. Tricyclic antidepressants have been observed to keep alcoholics sober during the period of detox and recovery. Benzodiazepines and anticonvulsant medications are also used.
Removal of the drug or alcohol is the major aim during drug and alcohol detox. Without detox, the residues that remain in the body can cause cravings for a long time after the addict has ceased to use the drug or alcohol. Detoxification helps to diminish these cravings. However, some of the other factors that play an important role in the success of a detox program are:The addict acknowledges he/she has a problem and is ready to change it.Get rid of all the drugs and other associated paraphernalia.Cut ties with those who are instrumental in creating the drug problem.Seek support from spouse/family/friends/well wishers who are ready to help with the de-addiction process.Be ready to follow instructions of the professional/medical specialist.
Refraining from consuming alcohol or drugs during the detox phase may not be enough to warrant long-term abstinence. There are other addiction treatments that have to be undergone by the patient for this. This is termed as the rehabilitation phase. Ideally, a drug or alcohol detox center will also have facilities for counseling and therapy for improving the psychological distress that the addict experiences. A successful drug and alcohol detox program can prepare the addict for a rehabilitation process.