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Frequently Asked Questions
A dependence on any drug can lead to an endless cycle of addiction until treatment is sought out. The first step of treatment is usually drug detox.
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What Is Drug Detox?
Drug use chemically alters the brain, creating a dependence which usually gets worse over time. Eventually, the addiction is so bad that the user’s mind and body require the presence of the drug to function “normally.” When the drug is no longer present in the user, their body begins to react as it scrambles to return to its “normal.” Painful, and sometimes life-threatening, symptoms typically appear. This is what is known as withdrawal. In order to safely and comfortably get patients through withdrawal, drug detox is used. Although not all drugs require detox, it is a necessary first step in the treatment process for many prescribed and street drugs.
Types of Drug Detox
Non-Medical or “Social” Detox
Non-medical or “social” detox is a possible fit for those who are newly addicted to a drug or have a lower level of dependency. The side effects they experience are usually comparatively mild but can still cause discomfort. They are able to detox without the use of medication, limiting their chances of becoming addicted to another kind of drug. Those who choose to undergo this type of detox can do it without a physician if they have a supportive environment. This is where loved ones play a heavy role in encouraging the user that they do not need the drug to survive.
However, if you are addicted to any drug, it is always recommended that you seek professional help. There are significant risks to unsupervised detox, including vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, and even death. Additionally, unsupervised detox can be incredibly painful and traumatizing. For these reasons, unsupervised detox is unlikely to be successful, and many who have attempted it are less likely to seek treatment in the future.
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Medical detox is the best choice for the vast majority of those who have an addiction. Their bodies cannot function without the drug and the user is at a point where they are causing harm to themselves and those around them. This type of patient can feel severe withdrawal symptoms, which is why close medical attention is urgently needed. During medical detox, a physician can prescribe other drugs to counteract the initial symptoms and pain that comes with detox, such as preventing vomiting as well as tremors.
The Rapid Detox method is for those who have an extreme dependency and need life-changing help fast. Medication is prescribed for this type of detox because of the fast pace resulting in withdrawal symptoms to develop sporadically. More experienced physicians usually handle these types of cases. Although sometimes necessary, many facilities do not offer rapid detox because it can be very dangerous and it is often less effective.
Ultra-rapid detox is used to speed up the process of detox in an attempt to lessen the effects of withdrawal. It is carried out through sedating the patient for hours while Opiate blockers accelerate the detox. This type of detox is not covered under insurance and is typically avoided due to the risks involved. Many patients need to be hospitalized after this type of detox due to pre-existing medical problems doctors might be unaware of before the procedure.
Detox for Different Types of Drugs
Doctors recommend supportive treatment for stimulant addicts on top of standard detox. Stimulant detox can bring about feelings of anger and resentment, making medication an important part of the detox process. Diazepam can be given multiple times a day for up to six months before tapering is used to adjust the body. Drinking plenty of water is also encouraged during stimulant detox, and vitamins B and C are given to replenish the body.
Stimulant detox is used for those who have abused:
Hallucinogen detox is different from regular detox, depending on the severity of abuse. A patient undergoing hallucinogen detox can experience a wide array of behaviors at an unpredictably fast pace. Individual and group therapy help diminish these effects during detox. Withdrawal symptoms of hallucinogens can also create feelings of anxiety and panic attacks. Typically, Benzodiazepines are prescribed for this type of detox to block the pain and produce a calming effect of those experiencing anxiety. Ketamine can be a prescribed choice to sedate the user if side effects intensify. However, the ultimate goal of detox is to remove the hallucinogen drugs from use and to replace these patterns with more healthy habits.
Hallucinogen detox is typically for abuse of:
- Psilocybin Mushrooms
Inhalants are often less intense and addictive than other drugs, but they can still cause addiction. Usually a safe, open, and calm environment can soothe the user’s mind and body from their addiction. Because of side effects such as hallucinations, patients are observed very close to ease any discomfort they may have. Detox for inhalant use can cause headaches and nausea, as well as trouble focusing on tasks later on. Medication can be prescribed to reverse these effects.
Although Cannabinoids do not cause much physical damage to the brain, an addiction can very much affect everyday life. Many users withdraw from the world around them and lack the motivation to continue with their hopes and dreams for a bright future. Symptoms are also mild but can be uncomfortable and lead to other conditions. Medication is not required for Cannabinoid detox; however, symptomatic medication can be prescribed to help with the anxiety and paranoia that may have developed from abuse of the drug. Psychiatric therapy is also issued as a part of follow-up care to ensure the mind and body are free of Cannabinoid cravings.
Cannabinoid detox is used for:
- Synthetic Marijuana
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Antidepressants are considered less addictive, but they can still have a psychological effect which can feel like withdrawal when use is stopped abruptly. You can feel physically sick or have negative thoughts as a result of discontinuation. As part of detox for antidepressants, physicians taper down doses to lessen the shock of the body once the user attempts to get clean. Medicine can be used to help discontinuation symptoms such as insomnia or nausea. If the doctor finds it is a strong addiction, they might switch the patient from a short-acting to a long-acting antidepressant as an attempt to help the body ease back into normal functioning without the use of the drug.
Some antidepressants that can be very hard to stop include:
- Celexa (Citalopram)
- Lexapro (Escitalopram)
- Paxil (Paroxetine)
- Zoloft (Sertraline)
Diet Pill Detox
It doesn’t seem likely for someone to get addicted to diet pills; however, it is more common than most people think. Diet pills are also very easily attained with many commercials boasting to try them without any prescription needed (although many are prescribed). Detox helps the body rid itself of a dependency on diet pills but can come with some side effects such as stress, depression, confusion, weight gain, and even seizures. These side effects can be harmful and blatantly uncomfortable, which is why physicians prescribe other medicines to reduce the pain during detox. The goal of diet pill detox is tapering down the medication to lower doses and eventually deplete doses entirely.
There are both short-acting and long-acting Barbiturates which mostly differ in length of effect. Common symptoms of withdrawal can include drowsiness, hallucinations, and seizures. Because of the acute side effects, patients are closely watched during the detox phase. Therapy and support are great methods for reversing a Barbiturate addiction; however, medicine can be prescribed if needed.
Detoxing from Amphetamines at home seems to be all too common; however, if not done correctly, this can lead to relapse in the future. Seeking treatment in a hospitalized setting ensures a safe and protected environment filled with physicians who care about detox success. Another benefit from seeking professional help is symptomatic relief medication prescribed to patients to decrease withdrawal symptoms.
Sleeping Pills Detox
Sleeping pills can be thrown into a nightly routine for getting to sleep faster, putting the user at risk for an addiction. Detox is relatively quick for those abusing sleeping pills compared to other hard drugs, and symptoms of withdrawal can fade within one month under the supervision of treatment providers. Quitting cold turkey might create more intense symptoms, which is why tapering is a good option to ease into the adjustment of living without the pills. Physicians can also prescribe medicine on an as-needed basis for those under observation.
Seeking Treatment for Drug Detox
Users who want to revive their life with sobriety start with detox. Many wonderful facilities have providers who will provide great care and observation to help you or your loved one successfully complete detox and move on to the next step in recovery. The first step might be hard, but it is the most important step. Contact a treatment provider today.
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Harvard Health Publishing. (2017). Going off Antidepressants. Retrieved on March 5th 2018 at https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/going-off-antidepressants
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Physician Health Program. (2009). Phentermine Abuse. Retrieved on March 5th 2018 at https://www.physicianhealthprogram.com/addiction/phentermine-abuse/
WebMD. (2016). Barbiturate Abuse. Retrieved on March 5th 2018 at https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/barbiturate-abuse#1
WebMD. (2017). Stopping Antidepressants: Is it Withdrawal? Retrieved on March 5th 2018 at https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/withdrawal-from-antidepressants#1