Detoxification, or detox, is often the first step in addiction treatment and recovery. Detoxification is the process of flushing out all the toxins in the system accumulated from drug or alcohol abuse. Drug and Alcohol Medical Detox is a safe, comfortable, and effective way of managing dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
People need to go through detox so that the body can start functioning as it would without the toxins that are currently present. In order to become used to a sober lifestyle, a person needs to not be under the influence to know how to act every day. These substances must be flushed out for that to work. That is because they affect the body even after they’ve been worn out.
Substance abuse brings on a number of long-term effects on the brain, body, nervous system, and even vital organs. Eventually, after prolonged use, the body becomes used to and even dependent on those substances. Brain functionality alone is altered in multiple ways, regarding behavior, decision-making, judgment, and even self-control. So once the supply of substances is cut, the brain will be thrown in disarray due to chemical and neurological imbalances.
Additionally, the physiological makeup of an individual’s body is altered by substance abuse. Discontinuing the use of drugs or alcohol can be uncomfortable, dangerous, and in some cases, life-threatening. In a lot of cases, urgent and quick medical assistance is needed to ensure a person’s well-being.
Because of this, those struggling with drug or alcohol abuse have to get a professional assessment before they start detoxing. Through an assessment, professionals can determine how the individual will react to the removal of substances from their body. In particular, individuals who abuse opiates (heroin, fentanyl, painkillers, etc.) or alcohol will experience serious effects.
Through cutting edge medical, holistic, and therapeutic approaches individuals are provided the opportunity to safely, comfortably, and effectively cleanse the body of alcohol and drugs.
If you or a loved one is in need of drug and alcohol medical detox services our admissions coordinators are prepared to help individuals everywhere begin the rehab process.
After medical detox, our addiction treatment specialists will recommend a specialized treatment approach to help you fully recover from addiction. Detox is the first start in the process, treatment helps solidify your life-long sobriety.
Both alcohol and drugs require detoxification at the beginning of any addiction treatment. However, detox is not the same as just quitting cold turkey. Each substance works a different way, and therefore, they each require a specific set of care.
Some cannot be quit at once, or the body might go into shock and/or experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Others might cause effects that require prescription medication to be taken to manage them. Therefore, the safest way to detox is by having a team of professionals at ready to help whenever needed.
Many people go through a range of symptoms, and sometimes, a lot will be happening at once. The detoxification process is not just a physical one – it also comes with psychological ramification. Symptoms like sleeping problems, depression, anxiety, and intense mood swings can all be side effects of drug withdrawal. But as it is with the detox process, withdrawal symptoms all vary depending on the substance abused.
Those who have a medical condition or another mental health disorder, as well as drug addiction, are at risk, too. They will need a professional detox program that can manage the side effects of co-occurring disorders. The same is true if you use more than one drug, too.
Finally, Medical Detox is also the best option for those who cannot detox in a stable environment. Relapsing during detox can prove lethal for some. Being in an unsafe, uncontrolled environment can put someone at risk of bad accidents, too. In addition to that, not having a proper support system at home can bring someone to fail when quitting on their own.
Some drugs have more significant withdrawal symptoms than others. When you use psychoactive drugs, the chemistry of your brain is changed to accommodate them. Eventually, the brain becomes used to that amount of neurotransmitters, hormones, and chemicals. That’s when you can say addiction has become quite intense.
Drug abuse can cause a flood of dopamine or serotonin, which helps regulate your moods and emotions. In fact, this is what causes the high associated with drug abuse. When these drugs wear off, you will then experience a crash, as your brain attempts to balance itself.
The more often you use drugs and the higher your doses, the longer it can take for your brain to achieve that natural balance. Eventually, you will be dependent on the drugs. If you stop using them, withdrawal sets in. But how does each substance affect the body?
Alcohol is one of the most commonly abused addictive substances. It is legal, cheap, and socially acceptable to drink. Many people who drink alcohol do not suffer from alcohol dependence or addiction. However, regularly consuming high doses of alcohol, as well as mental and genetic factors, can lead to addiction.
More than 50% of people experience withdrawal symptoms as they start to detox, no matter their method. Out of that group, about 3% to 5% can experience delirium tremens (DTs), which cause confusion, autonomic hyperactivity, and cardiovascular collapse. DTs are not the only possible severe symptom during alcohol detox. People can go through multiple life-threatening scenarios because of seizures, hallucinations, and dehydration.
Throughout the process of detox, symptoms might be anywhere from manageable to dangerous. Typical alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually start about eight hours after the last drink. Their intensity will depend on the level of addiction, general health, genetic factors, etc. While not everyone experiences all of them, the most commonly reported ones are:
Symptoms will start off mildly and quickly become more intense as time goes on. People report experiencing nausea, anxiety, irritability, headaches, and shaking in the first 6 hours. Some might have seizures in case of severe addiction, but they are a bit less likely at this point.
After the first day, the effects of withdrawal start getting more acute. Shaking might now turn into hand tremors. Now, there is also a higher risk of seizures, too. Disorientation is quite common after the first 24 hours. For some people, symptoms of hallucinations can already start at this point.
When approaching the 48-hour mark, hallucinations can begin for those who could have it. In more serious cases, panic attacks become more likely as well. However, for people suffering from moderate to mild addiction, things might start getting better after the second day. Still, they will have to deal with the milder symptoms for some time.
For those still experiencing severe symptoms, this is usually the most dangerous moment. DTs (also called alcohol withdrawal delirium) might occur now, triggering high heart rate and body temperature. Seizures are still possible in these cases. Withdrawal symptoms might come and go non-linearly, which means this is a less stable part of the process.
The instability is commonly still present for some time, and more moderate symptoms might continue. DTs are still a risk until the end of the first week.
For most people, symptoms start to become more stabilized, as they might only experience minor symptoms now. These lingering symptoms are hard to predict in terms of when they’ll end, but they are more manageable at this stage.
Opioids, or opiates, are drugs that derive from the opium poppy. They affect the opioid receptors directly, which are considered the “pleasure receptors.” This class of drugs includes illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. However, prescription painkillers and morphine are also under the opioid category.
Opioids are highly addictive and have been the culprit of a major opioid crisis in the country. While they can be safe to use when prescribed and properly used, that only applies for short-term use, opioid drug dependency can set in even then.
During opioid withdrawal, cravings for the drugs and symptoms can be very intense. Though symptoms themselves are not usually life-threatening, the high level of discomfort makes relapse likely. Because of this, medical detox is usually recommended. Opioids should not be quit abruptly due to the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. Instead, people are usually tapered off the drugs, or prescribed replacement medication like methadone or buprenorphine.
In more simple terms, opioid withdrawal is often compared to a really bad case of the flu with added emotional distress, which can be significant. It might be tricky to define a time for the beginning of withdrawal for opioids in general – they all have their own half-lives. Some, however, can be more or less predicted based on average.
Some opioids’ timelines can be more or less predicted. For heroin, they start in the first 12 hours, and they might peak in 24 to 48 hours, lasting up to a week. Some symptoms might last a few months. For prescription opioids, withdrawal begins in 8 to 12 hours, peaking sometime between 12 to 48 hours, and lasting from 5 to 10 days. Methadone withdrawal starts in 24 to 48 hours, usually peaks in the first few days, and might last from 2 weeks to a month.
Benzos are a class of prescription drugs that include sedatives, hypnotics, and tranquilizers. These drugs are often prescribed to manage anxiety or sleep disorders. They are generally only prescribed for short-term use due to how quickly drug tolerance and dependence can change.
When it comes to benzos, it’s important to understand there is a difference between addiction and dependency. After taking benzos for a period of time, the brain becomes used to it as tolerance lowers. Benzos “balance out” neurotransmitters in order for the brain to deal with symptoms of mental disorders. This means that anyone who takes it becomes dependent on it, but not necessarily addicted.
That is why, when patients stop taking benzos, they must do so by lowering their dosage little by little. It is at this moment that it is possible to tell if dependence has become an addiction or not. If they are not able to wean down their dosage, it might be a sign of addiction.
Benzos work as central nervous system depressants. If their supply is cut suddenly after chronic use, it can cause a dangerous rebound in brain chemistry and central nervous system activity. Like alcohol withdrawal, benzo withdrawal can trigger life-threatening symptoms, such as seizures. Benzo withdrawal is comprised of three stages: early withdrawal, acute withdrawal, and protracted withdrawal.
Early withdrawal usually brings on the symptoms the benzos were treating, such as anxiety or insomnia. They might start in a matter of hours or days after the last dose. After a few days, however, they will start developing into acute withdrawal. This is the rough stage of the process and can last between two weeks to months. The possible symptoms are:
The final stage or the process, called protracted withdrawal, will not affect everyone. Only 1 in 10 people experience it, but it can be brutal. For those who suffer from it, they might have withdrawal symptoms even years after quitting, and at random, non-linearly. They can start for no obvious reason. People experiencing protracted report experiencing:
Stimulant drugs, like cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy (MDMA), and prescription ADHD medication, increase the activity of the central nervous system. Prescription stimulant drugs are meant to help the person’s focus, mood, and vigor. These can be safely used to treat multiple disorders, as long as the doctor’s orders are followed.
As a person tries to quit the drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms that are both physical and psychological. They can be anything from moderate to severe, even if they were using it for specific purposes and not recreationally. The possible psychological symptoms can be especially intense, which makes people more prone to relapse.
The detox process for stimulants can be severe for those with other mental disorders as well, such as depressive disorders. Usually, dual-diagnosis patients will experience more intense psychiatric symptoms, and their withdrawal may last longer.
In the first 24 to 72 hours, some people can experience fatigue, anxiety, body pains, and a feeling of unhappiness. At this point, they might start to crave the drug. A lot of people have difficulty sleeping these first few days. People dealing with severe addiction might suffer from hallucinations, paranoia, and panic.
The more physical symptoms of stimulant withdrawal persist for about a week. After that, most symptoms begin to die down. However, drug cravings might not, and they can actually become more intense. Fatigue and depression may still persist and become intense.
Though many of the initial symptoms have become milder, depression and insomnia might continue. Eventually, insomnia might lead some to sleep too much and at weird times. By then, people can also start having mood swings.
After almost three weeks, the general scenario should’ve improved, and the worst should be over. Any lingering symptoms are part of the post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). They will be milder and fade out gradually. People do report experiencing depression and cravings as well. Any symptoms can last weeks or months before being truly over
Although these are the main types of substances available, they are not all. As street drugs become more complex every day, it is important to be aware of what makes a drug addictive. Additionally, other legal and/or prescription drugs can have addictive qualities, especially if not used as prescribed.
Any drugs that have mind-altering effects can impact brain chemistry. As mentioned, by altering brain functionality, the brain becomes used to working a certain way. This means that, eventually, prolonged use can lead to addiction.
Barbiturates are sedative-hypnotics, and they predate benzodiazepines. They were often used for the same effect as benzos in the 60s and 70s. Because the right dose can be hard to predict, they are not only prescribed in incredibly specific cases, like:
As for marijuana, contrary to popular belief, it can be addictive and cause long-term to permanent damage. While it has been prescribed for medicinal purposes, recreational use is not as safe. Compared to the 70s, marijuana today has higher levels of THC, making it more capable of intoxicating and making people addicted to it.
It alters brain function, like lowering the production of neurotransmitters like anandamide. This, like it is with other substances, makes the brain need marijuana to function. It can also affect brains that are still developing, so using it at a young age can cause permanent damage.
Multiple factors can impact the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms. The primary one is the type of drug you have been taking regularly. If multiple substances were abused, that would also play a big role in the withdrawal symptoms and the medical approach for detox.
The longer the time and frequency of substance abuse, the harder it might be to quit. If you have been taking a lot of drugs for a long time, the odds are that your level of dependence is high. And the fact that drug tolerance goes down over time means the need for higher doses to have the same effects. All this points to a longer detox period since the body is in need of the substance to function.
Medical and mental health disorders can complicate and exacerbate drug withdrawal symptoms. Since addiction causes physical and psychiatric symptoms, having other disorders triggering them can make the diagnosis and the treatment harder.
In the case of a co-occurring psychiatric disorder, such as depression or anxiety, a proper treatment plan needs to be made. Both disorders must be addressed separately, as they feed off of each other. Not treating one can actually worsen the other or lead to relapses.
As for medical issues, they too will affect treatment. Any physical restrictions or problems will affect how other symptoms manifest themselves. Even allergies can affect the medication that should be used for detox, and if not done correctly, it could make withdrawal symptoms worse.
For both scenarios, any prescription medication being taken will also influence withdrawal symptoms and treatment. Some people might need them for pain management or mental disorders. Therefore, they will affect brain chemistry and withdrawal.
Snorting, smoking, and injecting drugs can make drug dependence more intense when compared to those consumed orally. This higher dependence level will mean stronger withdrawal symptoms.
Detox typically lasts three to seven days, depending on the drug used, the level of dependence, and the significance of withdrawal symptoms. As a general rule, withdrawal symptoms can kick in as soon as the drug stops being active in the bloodstream. When looking at the timelines, we can see that’s usually between a few hours and a day after the last dose. Symptoms will usually peak in the first two or three days. After that, withdrawal symptoms start to wane as the brain works to achieve chemical and functional stability.
The first few days are a crucial time. A professional detox program can help manage and regulate brain chemistry during this vulnerable period. The end goal of detox is: to cleanse the body from toxins; to help your brain and body become physically stable in order to undergo psychiatric treatment. Treatment professionals will ensure you stay safe and healthy while helping to control cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms.
During detox, trained professionals may use the following to stabilize psychiatric and physical symptoms:
The first few days are a crucial time. A professional detox program can help manage and regulate brain chemistry during this vulnerable period.
The end goal of detox is: to cleanse the body from toxins; to help your brain and body become physically stable in order to undergo psychiatric treatment. Treatment professionals will ensure you stay safe and healthy while helping to control cravings and manage withdrawal symptoms.
Detox has more than one service setting, and they each have their strong points. What’s important is to keep in mind that picking should be about medical needs, not wants. There are three main options to pick from when it comes to detox: inpatient detox, outpatient detox, or at-home detox.
Inpatient detox requires that the patient check into the facility and only leave once treatment is over. It is an in-depth, more immersive treatment approach, and therefore, tends to be short. It allows the patient to stay in a controlled environment and have medical and psychiatric supervision 24/7. This service setting is highly recommended for people with severe symptoms or that are a danger to themselves or others.
Outpatient detox is an option for moderate to mild cases. As mentioned, not everyone will experience the most intense withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, outpatient programs only demand that the patient come to the facility for sessions of treatment. The number of visits a week and their duration depend on the patient’s needs. They can range anywhere from 3 to even 6 or almost daily visits. They can also either be short or longer sessions, from 3 to even 8 hours a day.
At home detox is not an option we provide, but an option some people make. Detoxification comes with many risks, which is why doctors often do not recommend at-home detox. Though it might be tempting to stay in and also keep your routine, at-home detox requires more than just will power. It could work, but the chances of relapse are very, very high. And not detoxing properly, might lead to medical complications. Is that really a risk worth taking?
Medications that are used during detox balance brain chemistry and treat major physical symptoms. These can include over-the-counter drugs, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), gastrointestinal medications, antihistamines, and so on. Professionals can make sure to use the ones that won’t trigger or worsen any withdrawal symptoms.
This can also include prescription medication, used for the psychiatric symptoms brought on by detox.
The following prescription medications are commonly used during detox:
Certain drugs, such as opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines, are usually not stopped abruptly. In some cases, like for benzos, they might be replaced with other medications while transitioning to lower doses. This can help stabilize the brain and central nervous system during detox. Once the transition to the new medication is done, they can be tapered down in medical detox.
In other cases, prescription drugs might be used to treat symptoms, but not the addiction itself. For instance, there are no specific medications that are FDA-approved for the treatment of stimulant dependence. During stimulant detox, medications that treat specific symptoms of withdrawal, such as sleep aids for insomnia and mood stabilizers for anxiety and depression, can be helpful.
Detox is a form of addiction treatment that is usually covered by insurance providers. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), substance abuse treatment is covered as one of the 10 essential health benefits.
Typically, detox will need to be classified as “medically necessary” to be covered under insurance. You will need to check with your insurance provider directly to find out what your individual plan covers and how much.
You may have a deductible to pay first or associated copays. In some instances, you may need to pay for your detox services upfront and then get reimbursed by your insurance company later.
You may also need to get prior authorization for detox services, obtain a referral from your primary care provider (PCP), or use an in-network provider for detox, depending on your specific plan and coverage.
Insurance coverage varies from state to state and between different providers. Since the specifics vary so much based on your personal plan, it can be tricky to ascertain your exact level of coverage. Detox providers and your insurance company can help you determine what your exact out-of-pocket costs will be.
For those without insurance, there are still many options to make treatment more affordable. Some of them might require eligibility, others might just be a form of payment plan.
Medicare and Medicaid are state- and federal- funded programs for health insurance. The good news is that they both provide coverage for detox. However, you’d have to be eligible for either, and they have limitations. It is important to check those limitations in order to know exactly how much can be covered. Another great factor is that it’s possible to have dual eligibility for them! A person can apply for benefits under both programs should that be the case.
For those who can’t count on Medicare or Medicaid, there are many programs that fund rehabilitation services. Hopefuls only have to provide information on income status, addiction status and/or need for intervention. Applications are done through a local or state mental health agency and/or substance abuse agency. Rehab and government grants are also available to those who need it. Both rehab centers and state institutions offer them.
If you can’t rely on any of those, there are ways to make paying out of pocket less painful. Payment plans are an option that allows for the gradual payment of the full price. Similarly, you can also pay with a credit card – through this might affect your general credit while you’re in the red. Speaking of credit, people with good credit can try to get personal loans, private loans, and/or use home equity. It might not be the hottest choice, but it is available.
And lastly, modern technology and social media have enabled what is called crowdfunding. You can receive donations online through many platforms for treatment. This would require know-how on online reach and tools in order to work. Many people have been able to pay for treatment and procedures this way.
Detox helps you to recover a safe level of physical balance after quitting, but it is only the first step towards recovery. Detox manages the physical symptoms of drug withdrawal and helps you get a handle on cravings. It doesn’t address the root causes of addiction, as detox alone is not treatment.
You will need to start a substance abuse treatment program in order to address the physiological and behavioral aspects of addiction. As a disease, addiction is complex and affects people as a whole. You will need to learn how to make positive lifestyle changes and take the time to instill healthy habits for a sustained recovery.
Addiction treatment should include therapy, relapse prevention, life skills training, and supportive care, along with medical and mental health support. Medications, nutrition planning, exercise programs, and additional holistic treatment, like massage therapy, yoga, chiropractic care, and acupuncture, can also aid in the healing process.
While it isn’t enough on its own, detox is often the first step in allowing your brain and body to heal. If you need to take this first step on your journey, let us be that help for you. Contact us today, and we will answer any questions you might and provide any information you need. We will be the footprints alongside yours on your journey to recovery.
Have questions about our how our drug and alcohol detox programs work? Our compassionate staff at Footprints to Recovery is standing by to answer any questions you might have. We’re waiting to hear from you!(855) 628-2899