The Benefits of Medically-Supervised Detox

The benefits of medically-supervised detox include treatment for painful withdrawal symptoms and co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions.

What Are the Benefits of Medically-Supervised Detox?

Detox, the process of clearing the body of toxic substances, can be a painful, strenuous, and even life-threatening process. Moreover, undergoing detox without medical care increases the risk of an unsuccessful detox. It also reduces the likelihood an individual will try detox again in the future. However, mitigation of withdrawal symptoms and treatment of co-morbid conditions are just some of the benefits of medically-supervised detox that contribute to a greater likelihood of successful recovery.

It’s the First Stage of Successful Addiction Treatment

For many individuals who successfully complete addiction treatment, the first step was entering medically-supervised detox. Detox is not a replacement for treatment, but the crucial first stage of a process of recovery. For the benefit of those in recovery, many inpatient and outpatient rehabs offer detox as the first phase of their treatment program. This allows individuals to receive round-the-clock care throughout painful withdrawal symptoms before moving on to an addiction treatment and therapy program.

It Can Be Life-Saving

Because of the various negative effects on the body and brain caused by substance abuse, medically-supervised detox is vital to detecting and treating any alcohol- or drug-related medical emergencies. For those who choose to detox without professional care, symptoms of withdrawal can be fatal. For instance, many people experience tremors during withdrawal. However, some may experience more severe symptoms of brain damage like seizures and delirium.

Relying on willpower or quitting “cold turkey” without medically-supervised detox is not recommended due to potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms.

The pain of withdrawal symptoms makes people in medically-assisted detox much more likely to complete it than those who attempt detox at home. Following a failed detox attempt, an individual’s odds of relapse skyrocket. Additionally, the sense of guilt or failure, coupled with how agonizing withdrawal can feel, prevents some from trying detox again. For those who never complete detox, the probability of fatal overdose and permanent bodily damage is high.

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Prescription Medications Can Ease Uncomfortable Withdrawal Symptoms

In one study of detox facilities, addiction treatment medications were used in nearly 80% of all detoxes. The widespread use of treatment medications is due to the severity of a wide array of withdrawal symptoms that range from mild to fatal. Common withdrawal symptoms and the medications typically used to treat the varying symptoms include the following:

Substance Type
Common Withdrawal Symptoms
Detox and Treatment Medications
Anxiety, confusion, fever, hallucinations, increased heart rate, insomnia, irritability, nausea, nightmares, seizures, sweating, tremors, vomitingBenzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines (Benzos)
Anorexia, anxiety, change in mood, delirium, hypersensitivity to loud noises, hyperventilation, insomnia, muscle spasms, panic attacks, seizures, sweating, tremors, weight lossAntidepressants, beta blockers, sleep aids, anticonvulsants, and muscle relaxers
Opioids (including Heroin)
Abdominal cramping, anxiety, diarrhea, dilated pupils, frequent yawning, goosebumps, high blood pressure, insomnia, muscle aches, nausea, rapid heart rate, restlessness, runny nose, sweating, teary eyes, vomitingClonidine, Lofexidine, Imodium®, Hydroxyzine, Methadone, Suboxone and Buprenorphine
Anxiety, depression, fatigue, increased appetite, insomnia, irritability, panic attacks, slowed thinking, suicidal thoughts, unpleasant dreamsThere are currently no government-approved medications to treat withdrawal from drugs like Cocaine, Meth, or Adderall. Medications currently being tested to alleviate stimulant withdrawal include Benzodiazepines and Buprenorphine.

May Uncover and Lead to Treatment of Co-Occurring Disorders or Diseases

A number of individuals with substance use disorders also have co-occurring mental illnesses or medical issues. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of peripheral health problems because symptoms may be suppressed by the abuse of certain substances. For example, an individual who abuses Heroin is unlikely to feel the abdominal pain associated with Hepatitis. The presence of underlying health conditions is often revealed during medically-supervised detox.

Likewise, prolonged abuse of drugs like Meth and alcohol can cause serious brain damage. Drugs like Heroin and Cocaine often contain materials like sugar, starch, or powdered milk that can clog blood vessels and damage organs throughout the body. Injection drug use is also a major cause of HIV transmission among those with drug addictions.

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The danger and discomfort associated with the detox process can be successfully mitigated with proper medical care. Medically-supervised detox not only increases the likelihood of successful transition to rehab, it facilitates a safe and supportive environment during a potentially dangerous time.

To get the benefits of medically-supervised detox for your own recovery, reach out to a treatment specialist today for more information.

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