Detoxification programs haven’t always been present in society, and it’s only been recently that there have been as many options as there are today. If you look back a hundred years or so, you’ll see that there were few medical options for patients in the past, because addictions simply weren’t seen as medical conditions. That’s not true today, and addiction is widely recognized as a disease of the body and mind. In fact, thanks to the autotoxin theory of George E. Pettey and others, which was the idea that detoxification was needed to purge the body of toxins, detoxification began to make waves in society and develop into what it is today. While Mr. Pettey’s initial theory is much more complex and has been discredited by today’s science, the term, “Detoxification,” has stuck and is still used today.
Early in the 1950s through the 70s, drug treatments focused on helping those who had been taking opiates and heroin; not many other drugs were considered dangerous or important in terms of addiction. Today, detox programs are available for illegal and prescription drugs alike, and there are as many treatment options as there are patients. Specialized programs are available, and each individual is treated for a variety of symptoms and conditions on a person-by-person basis.
By the 1970s, it was finally recognized that alcoholism and drug use weren’t just crimes that should be punished by the law. In fact, these conditions could be treated.
In the 1980s, patients could suddenly find programs that would help with dual diagnoses, and those programs still exist in the present. Whether it was alcoholism or drug dependency, the same facility could assist each patient in the past, which is what is available in most of today’s facilities.
There are two main kinds of treatment options have been debated in the past; These are the two main ideas of how a patient can stay drug free. The first concept is that, through ongoing treatment and maintenance with the use of drugs such as methadone to reduce withdrawal and other side effects, patients can slowly overcome withdrawals and addiction symptoms. Another group of people believes that the best way to get a patient sober is to make the facility abstinence based. In each facility, the goal would be to place each patient in a community of others facing the same struggles. Working as a community and supporting one another would be, ideally, therapeutic in nature and keep a person sober. This is still a controversy today, which makes it possible for patients to reach a goal of sobriety in a number of manners. Instead of only one program being available, many programs offer different routes to sobriety; they may mix in a community atmosphere with medications to reduce the likelihood or relapse, or someone may stop taking drugs without any medications to speak of. The choices are fluid, so patients can control their own programs.
For those who are struggling with an alcohol addiction an alcohol detox program can help. Alcohol detox centers offer managed withdrawal from alcohol is a safe and secure environment.Learn More
A drug detox program can help you or your loved one take the first step to finding recovery from drug addiction. A drug detox center can assist in withdrawal management and medication assistance.Learn More
For people who have unusually severe withdrawal symptoms, rapid detox programs can help. Other people may have tried repeatedly to detox from drugs and alcohol but have not been successful.Learn More
There are many ways you can enroll in a detoxification program, whether you decide to reach out for help yourself or are admitted following a court case or intervention. Most people who want to reach out for detox have reached a point where they know they need help. They may have hit bottom, they may see that they are only suffering because of their addictions.
These individuals can simply walk into any hospital or clinic and tell the receptionist that they want to start a detoxification program. In nearly all cases, the person will be admitted as a patient. If the person went to the hospital, the hospital may then provide information on rehabilitation programs the patient can pursue following a stay in the hospital for detoxification.
If the person checked into a detoxification clinic, the facility may offer rehabilitation on site as well. In this case, the person could sign up for a program of varying lengths; it’s not uncommon for a program to go as long as 180 days or be as short as a few days.
Entering a medical detox program is necessary for those who want to recover; the initial detoxification process can be monitored, and you can be assisted with withdrawal symptoms, so you don’t have to suffer in silence if yours are severe. Enrolling in a medical detoxification program is only the first step to your sobriety; many detox programs are connected to rehabilitation programs that can help you continue on your path and become more secure in your goals for a sober future. In rehabilitation, you can move on to counseling, group therapies, and other alternative methods of recovery, but the first step is always to be drug or alcohol free before you enter the program.
Addiction affects many people in the United States each year, and that number may continue to grow with the country’s booming population. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, around 23.5 million people aged 12 or older need treatment for drug or alcohol abuse. That was in 2009. While the number seems exceptionally high, the sad fact is that only around 11.2 percent of those people actually gets the help they need at a specialty facility. Without working with the right facility, these individuals are more likely to relapse and end up in the same position again in the future.
During detox, your body is getting rid of chemicals that have accumulated over time; withdrawal can start in as few as two or three hours.
The length of time detox takes may vary by patient; it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to detox completely.
Detoxing and then starting to take drugs or alcohol again can lead to a more severe dependency, even death.
The statistics from SAMHSA show that around 18.3 percent of people enter a detoxification program with a history of more than one abused substance. That might mean alcohol and heroin, marijuana and prescription drugs, or other combinations. Because of that, many detoxification programs are designed to hone in on the specific needs of each patient; each case is new and unique, so each treatment program needs to be specialized for that patient, too.
Another thing to consider when enrolling in a detoxification program is that the age groups will be attended to in different ways. A teen program may not work the same as a women-only program for adults. It’s been shown that the highest percentage of admissions is for those between 25 and 29, with those between 20 and 24 close behind. However, there are children as young as 12 being admitted, and there are those over the age of 65 being admitted for drug and alcohol abuse, too. Finding the right fit with the right program is key, so educating yourself about what the detoxification program offers can help.
It’s true that each kind of drug can result in different kinds of withdrawal. The severity of that withdrawal will depend on how long it’s been taken and on the amount that has been used. The way the drug is taken won’t necessarily determine what kind of withdrawal a person suffers; injecting, snorting or taking a drug orally doesn’t automatically result in a withdrawal of a certain kind.
During withdrawal treatment, it can be physically and emotionally draining. That’s why a trained facility is an important aid in detoxification. With emotional support and physical assistance with withdrawal can be incredibly helpful on the journey to sobriety.
When you arrive at a facility focused on helping you detox from drugs or alcohol, you should expect a few days dedicated to reducing the amount of the substance from your body. There are two main kinds of detoxification offered. Rapid detoxification is one, and a slower detoxification is another.
With a traditional detoxification program, the goal is to slowly reduce the substance in the body until the body is clean. In some cases, that means decreasing dosages over time; for others, it means stopping the drug cold turkey. Before detoxification ever begins, your medical evaluation will be completed. Medical issues like nutritional deficiencies or other health concerns have to be addressed at the same time as determining how to reduce or eliminate the harmful substance from the body.
During your medical evaluation, a doctor or nurse may talk to you about the ways in which you’d like to detox. Are you interested in doing it quickly to get it over with? Do you want to move slowly and use medications? Are you interested in holistic or alternative methods without the additional help of medications to reduce symptoms? These are some questions you may be asked. It’s okay if you don’t know or aren’t sure of the method you want to try; the most common way detoxification works is simply by stopping the drugs and monitoring and treating symptoms as they arise.
If you need to receive medications during detoxification, you may be given drugs such as Suboxone or buprenorphine. These can counteract some of the more severe withdrawal symptoms you could otherwise face. Buprenorphine and Suboxone can both help reduce cravings and symptoms such as the shakes, dry mouth, insomnia or others.
Generally speaking, detoxification lasts only for 3 to 10 days. During that time, you may be given the above medications, and following that time period, they’ll be stopped. Other aids you may receive during the initial detoxification process are fluids to prevent dehydration, non-addictive medications to help with body pains like spasms or muscle aches, and nutritional supplements.
It’s important to understand that no one is going to be 100 percent comfortable during the detoxification process. Addictions can cause major withdrawal symptoms that can even be life threatening if left untreated. Fortunately, with the aid of a trained facility, it’s possible to manage and reduce the uncomfortable nature of these symptoms, so you can start focusing on your long-term recovery goals.
During your time in detox, you won’t just be sitting around waiting for the next symptom to appear. Many facilities offer counseling, activities and other programs that you can be involved in. This can help you take your mind off your withdrawal or cravings and start to meet new people and those who will be working with you through your recovery.
The normal withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate and narcotic use include:
The list goes on, and it can be daunting for those looking to stop taking opiates. Fortunately, these side effects can be managed. There are several ways patients can choose to manage their symptoms.
Patients are tested to determine what substances and how much they have in their bodies. Doctors or other clinicians will speak with the patient to determine what mental or behavioral issues exist and look for co-occurring disorders AKA “dual diagnosis.”
At this point, patients are assisted in the addiction detox program with medication. They are closely monitored, supported by clinical staff and introduced to the idea of treatment and recovery.
This is the last step of the inpatient detox program for addiction. The psychological roots of addiction are not addressed in detox, only the physical symptoms. Patients will hopefully make a commitment to go to a drug rehabilitation program or treatment center where their healing can continue in a supportive environment.
Rapid detoxification can help manage withdrawal symptoms by placing a patient under general anesthesia. As the process takes place, the patient’s vitals are monitored to be sure nothing is hurting them. Essentially, the patient will sleep through withdrawal, waking up only once the worst of all symptoms have gone.
One of the most common ways to manage withdrawal symptoms is by using non-addictive medications to address them. For example, if you’re in pain, the idea may be to give you a pain medication like ibuprofen or Tylenol. These are non-addictive medications that can still help reduce your pain.
Are you struggling with sleep? There are medications to help that, too. Doxepin, for instance, may be used, since it’s not addictive and can help you sleep for up to seven hours. Getting good rest is vital to helping the immune system and body heal, so this is worth considering.
Any time a patient is going through withdrawal in an inpatient facility, doctors or nurses are available at all times, day and night. If the patient is feeling nauseated at 4:00 a.m., a nurse can help. Cold shivers keeping a patient awake? A doctor can prescribe a medication for that, too. This way of managing symptoms with nonaddictive medications helps patients get through the worst of withdrawal without adding the risk of a further addiction down the line.
One final way that withdrawal can be managed is through the use of alternative or holistic therapies. Those who believe in avoiding medications and sitting through withdrawal without that aid may find it most helpful to focus on alternative options like attending counseling courses and otherwise taking their minds off the withdrawal.
Some holistic options can work wonders for the body. Massage, for example, helps relax the muscles, improve circulation, and release tension. This can help someone going through muscle tremors feel more comfortable through a period of withdrawal. Massage can also sometimes help with pain, since it releases tension, so this can be a viable alternative to taking medications for some patients.
Another holistic option some patients opt for is the use of acupuncture. It works much in the same way as massage; it stimulates the muscles with the use of small needles. This process can reduce stress and help a patient through anxiety, too. It’s been found in the past that with either massage or acupuncture, the benefits of human touch can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. This can be immensely helpful for those struggling with their withdrawal symptoms.
Rapid detoxification is very different than the above process. It’s sometimes used when there are few other options; if a person overdoses or is suffering a life-threatening side effect, rapid detox could be one of the few options available.
Rapid detoxification is performed in a hospital in an intensive care unit, where patients can be monitored at all times. This is normally a safe procedure when performed in a hospital, but it can be dangerous if a patient isn’t being monitored for side effects or withdrawal symptoms while they’re under general anesthesia or other medications. Opiate blockers including naloxone, nalmephine, or naltrexone may be used to block the opioid receptors in the body. Doing this forces opiates to leave the body quickly.
Rapid detoxification works in as little as four hours, but it may take longer. Up to eight hours in rapid detox is not unheard of.
With rapid detoxification, the first step is to place a patient under general anesthesia. The patient, while asleep, will be given injections of the above opiate blockers. These injections stop the actions of all narcotics and opiate drugs.
Patients may still have symptoms of withdrawal while they’re asleep, but these symptoms are monitored and treated as needed. For instance, if a patient is having rapid detox, the first few medications to be injected would be muscle relaxants to reduce the risk of spasms and anti-nausea medications to prevent aspiration.
After the rapid detox process is over, patients are monitored for several days until their release. It’s normal for patients to be discharged in as little as 48 hours following the recovery from anesthesia. The patient will need to be assessed before discharge, so the length of time spent in the hospital could be longer in some cases.
Rapid detoxification can be a good choice for a number of people. It can help reduce the physical and emotional stress of opiate withdrawal, so it’s good for those who are already dependent on heroin, Percocet, Demerol, Darvocet, morphine and other opiate-based drugs. Any narcotic drug addiction can be treated with this process.
With rapid detoxification, the body still goes through withdrawal, but the detoxification process moves much faster. That means the patient doesn’t have to suffer for days or weeks through withdrawal; instead, it’s over in just a few hours.
If a particular patient has tried to get off narcotics in the past and struggled to do so, this can be a helpful treatment option. The person undergoing the rapid detoxification treatment program will be asleep throughout the withdrawal, which makes it much easier to avoid the discomfort of withdrawal. Those who have severe withdrawal symptoms can consider this option and may find that it’s one of the few ways they can stop the drugs without giving in and using to avoid pain or other symptoms.
It’s important to know that rapid detoxification should be performed in an intensive-care setting in a hospital. The team working with the patient needs to be trained appropriately and to a high standard. In any case where someone goes under general anesthesia, there are risks to consider before opting for this program.
Interestingly, there are other kinds of rapid detox that can be tried. Stepped rapid detoxification is one, and ultra-rapid detox is another. With stepped rapid detox, patients need to be aware that they won’t be under general anesthesia. This can be beneficial for those who can’t be put under general anesthesia due to health concerns or other issues.
Stepped rapid detox works by slowly dosing a patient with Naloxone. This drug is injected below the skin, allowing it slowly work its way into the body. Another dose is given orally. Both are given hourly or thereabout.
As a patient proceeds on the stepped program, withdrawal side effects are managed with medications, mostly taken orally. This process is not as fast as a normal rapid detoxification process. A good thing with stepped detox is that the pacing of the program can be completely controlled. If a patient is beginning to have serious withdrawal, he can even be given buprenorphine to suck on. This helps reduce the symptoms temporarily as the body adjusts to the detoxification taking place.
Normally, it takes around two to four bites of the Naltrexone Maintenance Therapy to completely detox and stabilize a patient.
The other kind of rapid detox, ultra-rapid detox, does require general anesthesia. With this process, Naltrexone blocks all endorphin receptors, making it impossible for opiate drugs to illicit a response from the body. The withdrawal process takes place very quickly with this method; it results in a complete detoxification within 30 minutes.
The process is extremely painful, but it’s manageable because the patient is asleep. This has a significantly higher medical risk to the patient and can be very costly, which is why it’s not often used.