Detox: Beginning the Journey Toward Recovery

Starting the treatment process is often the hardest part of conquering a drug or alcohol addiction. If someone you love has decided to get help for their substance abuse problem, their treatment will probably begin with detoxification. Detox helps patients stop using an abused substance and get through the withdrawal process in a safe, controlled manner.

A medically supervised detox program also provides medications that can help patients manage their withdrawal symptoms. Although detox is an essential component of addiction treatment, it's important to follow it with rehab to ensure the best chances of long-term recovery.

Understanding Detox

An addicted person might think that they can quit using drugs or alcohol on their own, but a "cold turkey" approach is never recommended. The initial hours and days of withdrawal can be uncomfortable and intense, and individuals may face the risk of dangerous complications.

Substance abuse has a powerful impact on the brain's chemistry; when the substance of abuse is taken away, the brain's chemical and hormonal systems are thrown into confusion. At a medically-supervised detox center, patients are carefully monitored throughout the withdrawal process, and any urgent issues are addressed immediately. Once a patient is fully stabilized, the staff at a detox center can focus on minimizing a patient's withdrawal symptoms.

Managing Withdrawal with Medication

Not only does a medically-supervised detox program keep patients safe and stable, but it also takes a proactive approach to patients' comfort. Withdrawal can be a difficult experience, but many medications are available to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal and block cravings for a substance.

Different medications are used depending on the substance of abuse:

  • Alcohol withdrawal is usually managed with certain benzodiazepines, including Valium.
  • Opiate withdrawal may be treated with buprenorphine, methadone or naltrexone.
  • Benzodiazepine withdrawal is sometimes treated with phenobarbital, but a tapered dose of the abused drug itself is often used to control the symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Amphetamine withdrawal can be eased with the help of reboxetine.
  • Treatment for stimulant withdrawal often includes antidepressant medications like Norpramin or benzodiazepines such as Valium.

The First Step

Detox is an essential first step toward long-term recovery, but it won't work on its own. While detoxification accomplishes the goal of breaking the physical dependency on a substance, it doesn't address the complex psychological aspects of addiction. Once a patient successfully completes detox, they need to enter a comprehensive rehab program; in rehab, they'll explore any underlying emotional issues that may have contributed to their addictive behavior, and they'll develop essential coping skills that will help them avoid a relapse in the future.

Addiction is a complex disease, and it's important to treat both the physical and psychological aspects of the condition. Detox is a critical component of the treatment process, addressing the physical and chemical aspects of addiction. Followed by a course of rehab, this treatment can lay the foundation for long-term recovery. If someone you love is ready to get help for their addiction, contact us today. Our trained counselors can answer your questions and provide more information about our treatment programs.

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