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Detoxification Explained

Detoxification can be described as the elimination of toxic substances from the body. These toxic substances could be drug- or alcohol-related. Detox is often used as the first step on the road to addiction recovery. In this blog post, we want to discuss what a detoxification process entails.

First Stage of Drug Detoxification

The first stage of any drug detoxification programme can be intense. There should always be medical help present to provide the correct treatment should it be required. Some of the withdrawal symptoms that can be experienced are:

  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • sweating
  • insomnia
  • muscle aches.

Although these symptoms are not classed as life-threatening, they can be very disturbing for the individual. This is why it is important for addicts to receive the correct support while going through a detoxification process. As well as the above symptoms, some more extreme ones can include:

  • violent behaviour
  • mental illness
  • symptoms of psychosis.

Different Withdrawal Symptoms

Extensive research on drug withdrawal has highlighted that different classes of drugs will result in different types of withdrawal symptoms. The severity of these symptoms will vary depending on the individual. Certain factors that can influence withdrawal in different people include:

  • any other mental or physical disorders
  • the length of addiction
  • the combination of drugs abused
  • the dosage of the drug at time of detox.

Although these withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the person, there are some that are common with a number of different drugs, such as:

  • sleep disturbances, including insomnia
  • mood disturbances such as mood swings and irritability
  • cravings for the drug of choice
  • physical issues such as tremors, sweating, nausea and vomiting.

Types of Drug Detoxification

There are many different types of detoxification that an addict could partake in. The severity and intensity of the withdrawal symptoms that are experienced by the patient, along with the specific substances that have been abused, will influence which type of detox they should go for. Some of these choices include:

  • Inpatient detox is the most popular choice. It is recommended in most cases as it assists addicts in avoiding relapse and also ensures that they have adequate medical care in the event of an emergency. The majority of detox options are at inpatient facilities as it has been deemed as the most effective way to detox. The patient will be admitted to the clinic where he or she will have around-the-clock support by medical professionals.
  • Outpatient detox is not usually recommended but sometimes, in cases where the patient’s addiction is considered to be less severe, this can be a good choice. Regular check-ins with the treatment team and medication available by prescription can provide acceptable detox care for the individual in question. Sometimes people may opt for this option if they cannot afford inpatient detox or if they have family or work commitments that do not allow them to be away from home for any length of time.
  • Opioid detox can be done in an inpatient setting or through medication for optimum comfort and safety. This is where medications are used to manage opioid dependence to help alleviate the negative withdrawal symptoms. The medications used are methadone and buprenorphine; these are full and partial opioid agonists that are administered to stabilise the patient. The idea is that the patient is gradually weaned off them so that they do not experience intense withdrawal symptoms.

These are just a few of the different detoxification treatments available for the affected individual. The addict may have the choice on which detox option are chosen, but sometimes they are assigned to an individual treatment by medical professionals.

Different Methods of Drug Detoxification

As mentioned in the above paragraphs, detox options can also depend on the severity of the addiction and also the drug that the individual is addicted to. And because of this, the individual looking to go through detox may have different options in drug detoxification methods. These can include:

  • Short-term medicated detox. This is where the addict will be assigned a short-term medication plan for this stage in their detox journey. This will include taking specific medications for a period of time of time to relieve withdrawal symptoms
  • Long-term medicated detox. These are used to treat opioid drug addictions to substances such as heroin. The addict will receive the correct medication to stop them experiencing the majority of withdrawal symptoms. The dose will gradually be lowered until the individual is completely drug-free
  • ‘Cold turkey’ detox. This basically means cutting off the use of all drugs and substances completely, with only medical supervision on hand to assist in case of an emergency. These patients will experience full withdrawal symptoms and will usually have no medication to help them.

Drug detoxification is the first step in a process that can help anyone suffering from a drug- or alcohol-related addiction. There are many methods of detoxification, as described above; depending on the severity of the addiction, a medical professional will be able to make an informed choice on which would suit you the most. If you think you need help or any information on detoxification, contact us at Addiction Helper today.

Source: PhilHealth to come up with detox package for drug dependents (Rappler)

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