Medical Detox for Women: What to Expect

Addiction causes profound physical, psychological and behavioral changes that can destroy an individual's life. Professional treatment is almost always needed to return people back to a healthy life.

The first step in a treatment program is detoxification, but the symptoms of withdrawal can be very unpleasant. Some people experience such intense discomfort that they are unable to achieve total detoxification, going back to substance abuse just to end the withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox is a method developed to assist individuals with the symptoms of withdrawal so they are ready to begin their treatment program. Here we will explore the benefits of medical detox for women.

Why Medications Are Needed During Detox

Individuals who have been addicted to drugs or alcohol for a long period of time may have particular difficulty during the detoxification period. Alcohol and drugs cause changes in the neurotransmitter chemistry of the brain. Over a period of time, the brain begins to rely on the alcohol or drugs to provide the stimulation of pleasure centers, and normal production of brain chemicals ceases.

When alcohol or drugs are withheld, the effects on the body and brain can be severe. Feelings of pain, blood pressure elevation and seizures can result. Some effects of withdrawal can be life-threatening and require careful medical monitoring to ensure that patients get through detoxification safely. Blood pressure fluctuations and heart arrhythmias are not uncommon.

The process of detoxification can be accomplished safely with medical supervision, and the withdrawal period can even be shortened by the appropriate use of certain medications that minimize discomfort. The use of these medications can help individuals to begin their treatment programs sooner and in better physical condition.

Medications Used for Opiate Withdrawal

Withdrawal from opiate drugs like heroin and prescription painkillers can produce severe chills, sweating, muscle aches, joint pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and depression. A variety of medications can be used to reduce these symptoms. Methadone, Suboxone and antidepressants are often used to reduce cravings and block the effects of opiates. Anti-convulsive drugs may be used to control seizures during detoxification.1

Medications Used for Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal can produce a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including nausea, tremors and headache. Anti-nausea medications can be used to relieve stomach discomfort, and anti-convulsive medications can help with seizures that may occur. Antidepressant drugs are used to stabilize mood during the detox process. Naltrexone and disulfiram are used to reduce cravings. In addition, blood pressure medications help to reduce hypertension.2

Medications Used for Stimulant Withdrawal

Stimulant withdrawal can cause severe depression, fatigue, long periods of sleeping and poor concentration when awake. Antidepressants may be needed to stabilize mood. Anti-psychotic medications can be necessary to eliminate hallucinations and improve cognitive ability. Modafinil can be provided for extensive sleepiness.

Medications Used for Sedative Withdrawal

Sedative addiction usually involves benzodiazepine drugs. These are highly addictive drugs that frequently produce withdrawal symptoms when stopped. These symptoms can be reduced with the use of long-acting benzodiazepines in place of short-acting drugs.

If fear of the discomfort of withdrawal is keeping you from getting the addiction treatment you need, contact a professional treatment center to discuss options for medical detox for women that can help you through the first difficult days of your recovery process.


References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15510234
  2. http://www.aafp.org/afp/1998/0701/p139.html
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