Medical Detox & Personalized Recovery Plans
Breaking an addiction is extremely challenging. The lifestyle factors, like friend groups and social activities, are certainly important to keeping substance users attached to the habit, but the physical bonds can be nearly impossible to shake off alone. Due to the changes within the brain caused by prolonged use, the body develops a physical need for additional substances.
Medical detox is among the best ways to address this physical bond, helping users to break the cycle and get clean for good. If you or someone you love is facing addiction and could benefit from medical detox, please contact Lumiere Healing Centers today.
Addiction and the Brain
Addiction refers to a chronic disease that involves a dependency to a particular substance characterized by use, abuse, and compulsive drug seeking. Addiction is most commonly correlated with substance abuse, like alcohol, cocaine, heroin, or prescription painkillers, but any enjoyable experience can be addictive.
The physical components of addiction start in the brain. Specific function varies from one drug to the next, but general behavior is largely the same. When a drug is consumed, particles bind to receptors in the brain, releasing neurotransmitters that affect the body. For example, taking heroin results in a flood of dopamine, triggering a euphoric feeling that doesn’t occur naturally. However, after prolonged use, the brain adjusts to altered chemical release and reuptake and begins to interpret this newly created state as normal. When a drug supply is cut off, the body reacts negatively to the change, triggering withdrawal symptoms.
What Is Medical Detox?
Medical detox is often the first step in the rehabilitation process, particularly in inpatient rehabilitation. It is designed to sever the physical bonds of addiction, helping patients to move past the initial severe cravings after quitting drugs in order to facilitate further recovery.
Put simply, medical detox is a form of detoxification from drugs or alcohol that uses medical intervention, like medications and IV therapy, to help patients through withdrawal. The duration of detox varies from several days to several weeks based on substance, and may include prescription medications designed to lessen the effects of addictive substances or palliate symptoms like nausea and insomnia.
After medical detox, most patients move into a communal setting to attend group and individual counseling in order to address the lifestyle and psychological components of addiction.
Who Needs Medical Detox?
Medical detox is not needed for all patients who enter rehab. Not all substances have a physical component; for those that do not, medical detox will not be effective as a part of recovery. While medication can still be used to control detox symptoms, a true doctor-assisted process is not required.
In general, those who need medical detox meet the following criteria:
- A physical addiction to a drug or drugs
- Great discomfort when withdrawing without medical assistance
- Health risks related to withdrawal without medical assistance
Drugs Requiring Medical Detox
Some drugs predispose a substance user to a need for medical detox. These drugs almost always carry a physical component, especially after prolonged use, and will trigger unpleasant or potentially dangerous side effects when cessation occurs.
- Alcohol: despite its legality, alcohol withdrawal is among the most serious. Users often face symptoms like delirium tremens, seizures, insomnia, and agitation. In some cases, these symptoms can be life-threatening.
- Heroin: while rarely life-threatening, heroin detox is often highly aggressive and very hard to handle. Without medical attention, patients are likely to relapse within days.
- Prescription pain pills: when abused, drugs like Vicodin and Percocet function in similar ways to heroin and can create a very unpleasant withdrawal process.
- Cocaine: like heroin, cocaine withdrawal is not life-threatening, but the insomnia and mood swings associated can be very intense and hard to handle.
- Benzodiazepines: due to the nature of benzo addiction, ceasing use requires strict medical oversight. Without doctor attention, effects can be life-threatening.
Other drugs may or may not require medical detox. For example, marijuana is not generally physically addictive, but can trigger withdrawal symptoms in chronic long-term users.
The Medical Detox Process
During medical detox, patients are largely isolated from the outside world. They generally will not have access to friends and family or communication devices to ensure all focus is on the recovery process. Under the supervision of doctors and nurses, patients will be cut off or weaned off of their substance of choice. As withdrawal sets in, patients will receive assistance in the form of medications and other therapies to manage ongoing side effects. For example, doctors may prescribe sleep aids for insomnia or benzos to control mood.
In some detox situations, patients will be permitted to use drugs that counteract the effects of addictive substances. Naltrexone, for example, can help patients prevent future relapse. A drug regimen may continue after detox as well to help patients resist drug abuse or to prevent effects if a relapse occurs. For example, Antabuse can be effective in alcoholics, as it blocks an enzyme used to metabolize alcohol, causing nausea and vomiting in those who drink.
Get Help Today
If medical detox is appropriate for your addiction, help is here. Please contact Lumiere Healing Centers today at 855-598-3048 to learn more about how we can make a difference for you.