A dependency on drugs or alcohol can sneak up on you before you know it. Oftentimes, people find themselves in the throes of an addiction before they are able to comprehend clearly what is happening.

Whether an addiction has recently developed or it’s been plaguing you for years, it’s time to start medical detox. Here’s how.

Understanding medical detox

Medical detox is for those who have developed a dependency on drugs or alcohol. Detoxification is when a person attends treatment during the period of withdrawal so as to begin recovery. During this time, the body will rid itself of drugs and alcohol. 

This process is often painful, and medical supervision can help individuals bear through this challenging time to prevent relapse and encourage long-term recovery. Medical detox may be combined or followed by other therapeutic modalities, like psychotherapy (talk therapy), medication-assisted treatment, recreational therapy, peer support groups and so on.

How does medical detox work?

When the body is undergoing medical detox, the bulk of the effort to rid your body of toxins happens naturally. Every time your body goes for a period of time without substances, withdrawal starts and this flushing of your system begins, but rarely is your body left to finish the job.

Refraining from drug use means your body is left to its natural process of clearing out toxic chemicals. Eventually your body will feel much better without drugs in the system, but the early stages of detox can make a person extremely ill.

While your body will naturally do the majority of the work, there are many times where medical interventions can speed the process along or mitigate side effects. These measures can make detox more comfortable and improve your chances of success in recovery.

What medications are used during detox from substance abuse?

There are several medical interventions that are used during detox for substance abuse that have proven benefits or are approved by the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) specifically for the purpose of detoxification.

Acamprosate, disulfiram and naltrexone: approved by the FDA for use in the treatment of alcohol addiction. These medications can decrease cravings for alcohol or reduce symptoms of withdrawal.

Guanfacine, clonidine and lofexidine: these drugs are antiadrenergic agents, meaning they reduce the brain’s uptake of neurotransmitters that promote addiction. They are used in the treatment of alcohol, benzodiazepine and opioid withdrawal.

Antidepressants: a sudden cessation of pleasure-inducing chemicals means that individuals may be prone to depression. These medications can reverse a negative mood.

Antipsychotics: for patients who have co-occurring mental health concerns, detox may manifest some deeply rooted issues. Antipsychotics can help to mentally stabilize a person through detox.

Methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine: these drugs are used in medication-assisted treatment for opioids. 

Other medications can help prevent or heal nausea, muscle soreness, fatigue, seizures and more. Certain medications will work better for certain individuals, largely based on the substance of detox and the intensity of an addiction.

What are the benefits of medical detox?

There are numerous benefits of medical detoxification that you won’t experience if you attempt the dangerous task of detoxing on your own.

Safety: detoxing from drugs or alcohol can be a dangerous and painful experience. In fact, sudden cessation of various substances can even result in death. Alcohol, heroin and benzodiazepines are some of the most dangerous drugs to withdraw from. 

Medical detox for substance abuse gives you access to doctors who can alleviate symptoms of withdrawal like seizures, insomnia, nausea, hallucinations and coma. Detox centers have nurses on staff around the clock to administer care.

Camaraderie: when you partake in medical detox, you’ll be surrounded by peers who understand your experiences and have compassion for your struggles. Mutual support can help you get through the hardest days.

Professional advice: medical detox for substance abuse always has support staff on hand for medical and mental health issues. The period of withdrawal can bring up some overwhelming emotional distress, so the aid of an addiction specialist can be a critical asset to you.

When you embark on detox, you’ll be paired with a psychologist, counselor or social worker who can help you navigate the stressors you’re facing.

Continued care: most detox facilities operate on a continuum of care, meaning that the facility is connected to other providers who can offer you less intense care at the next stage in recovery. Oftentimes, this continued care is provided by the same organization at a different location.

When you start treatment for substance abuse you’ll be connected to follow up services by default. During a time when you need every ounce of your energy to get through detox, you’ll be happy to have an automatic link to the next step.

Is there any reason to wait for detox from substance abuse?

No. Waiting to start detox will only make the process harder in the long run. Everyday that you wait to get treatment for a dependence on drugs or alcohol your body becomes more accustomed to substances. Start today for the best detox experience.

If you’re ready to commit to change, reach out to Silver Ridge Recovery. Silver Ridge is an addiction rehab program designed to help midlife adults find healing and hope. Take advantage of holistic therapies and a beautiful facility by calling now