Everything You Need to Know About Drug Detox

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It's not unusual for anyone speaking with a recovering addict to hear them talk about their detox process and how life-changing it was. Detoxification (or detox) is one of the essential parts of addiction treatment.

Drug abuse over a long time often leads to a buildup of the substance within the system of the addict. The goal of detoxification is to help the body rid itself of these substances. It's very important because it can help an addict avoid the pitfalls of the abrupt end of use and also help them stay away from the drug in the future.

While there are varying methods of drug detox, the first step for all steps involves essentially the same thing – withdrawal. As the body attempts to rid itself of the drugs and return back to a natural balance, the addict may experience some unpleasant and potentially dangerous symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person and depend mainly on the nature of the substance of abuse.

Typical examples of withdrawal symptoms are sweating, nausea, fatigue, depression, and seizures.

Types of Drug Detox

There are two major types of drug detox:

  • Outpatient detox: Although not frequently advised, the patient can be allowed to undergo detoxification outside the treatment center. They will, however, have to go for regular check-ins with their doctors.
  • Inpatient detox: Detox is done within the treatment facility with close supervision from support staff.
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Methods of Drug Detox

Depending on the nature of the substance the person is addicted to and the severity of the addiction, there are quite a number of options available to them. There, however, is no best method as the choice will vary from person to person based on some other factors. The methods of drug detox are:

  • Cold Turkey Detox: This detox method usually involves an abrupt stop in the use of the drug and other similar substances. In this case, the person will be allowed to face the full brunt of their withdrawal symptoms. It's used in situations where abstaining from the substance used doesn't cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. The intensity and duration of the withdrawal will also vary from person to person.
  • Short-term Medicated Detox: When undergoing short-term medicated detox, the patient will have to abstain from all addictive substances, including alcohol. However, due to the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, the patient will be given some non-addictive drugs for a short while to help them cope. An example of this is the prescription of benzodiazepines for recovering alcohol addicts. It helps them prevent seizures and delirium.
  • Long-term Medicated Detox: In some other more severe cases, the patient may be given non-addictive drugs for a much more extended period. Often, as the treatment progresses, the dosage of the drug is reduced until the patient is totally free. An example of this is the prescription of methadone for recovering opioid addicts.