Drug Detox

Drug detoxification can be the first step toward a healthier, more positive future. But the prospect of going through detox and withdrawal can seem frightening to those struggling with drug or alcohol dependence. How will withdrawal feel? Will detox be uncomfortable, painful or embarrassing? How will you handle the stress and emotional pain of life without drugs? By understanding how drug and alcohol detoxification work, you can be confident in your decision to commit to a drug detox program.

What Is Drug Detox?

Drug detox is a time for your body to rid itself of any drugs or alcohol. Detox allows the body’s digestive system to clear out remaining substances, while adjusting to life with. During this recovery period, patients will experience both psychological and physical restorations to their body, as well as potentially undesirable withdrawal effects. With any drug detoxification program, it is important to keep in mind that it is not designed to completely cure addiction, but rather, begin your recovery.

Detox programs are offered in a variety of settings, including hospitals, dedicated rehab centers, outpatient clinics, community health centers and correctional facilities. Publicly funded detox programs are offered at little or no charge, while other detox centers may accept private payment or health insurance.

How to Detox Your Body From Drugs in One Day

You may wonder how to detox your body from drugs in 24 hours or less. While some may advertise quick fixes or 24-hour drug detox, it is not a simple procedure that can be achieved overnight. In fact, withdrawal symptoms during detox can be dangerous, so attempting a rapid home drug detox could put you at risk. If you’re searching for quick detox for drug test results, attempting a home drug detox or hoping for instant results is not only likely to fail, but could also harm you in the long run. If you regularly consume large amounts of drugs or alcohol or are deeply dependent, your withdrawal symptoms could be so severe that they could be life-threatening.

Medical detox with the aid of trained professionals is usually the safest option. When combined with comprehensive treatment, these professional programs can kick-start a lifetime of recovery. If you’re looking to learn how to detox your body from drugs, it is best to consult a medical professional. You can start with your doctor, but you could also consult with a specialist or drug rehabilitation center.

The length of a program varies, but the full detox process is usually a multi-day process and could take days or weeks depending on individual history and needs. When undergoing medication-assisted treatment, detoxification drugs and prescriptions may be used under the supervision of a doctor. Because most people are already in a vulnerable state during detox from drugs, it’s important that these medications are regulated by a professional who understands the risks of combined substances and how to manage withdrawal. Although transitioning away from harmful substances can be lengthy and uncomfortable, it is well worth the efforts. Like most things in life, slow and steady wins the race, so a 24-hour drug detox is not only unlikely, but inefficient and potentially dangerous.

Types of Drug Detox

There are many possible approaches to drug detox, ranging from do-it-yourself detox using nothing but home remedies, to state-of-the-art detox programs that include pharmaceutical therapy and 24-hour monitoring. If you aren’t sure where to start, call a drug abuse hotline to speak with a specialist who can help you determine your next steps. Some of the most commonly used detox options include:

  • Quitting cold turkey. Often lauded as the ultimate at-home detox, quitting cold turkey is often the most dangerous and least effective way to break free from addiction. Without medical supervision, you could be at risk for changes in blood pressure, seizures, convulsions, hallucinations, confusion and other serious side effects of withdrawal. For many people who try to detox alone, cravings, agitation, depression and anxiety can cause a relapse before they’ve completed the withdrawal process.
  • Home detox kits. Home detox kits, available at drugstores, health food stores and online, can contain a combination of herbs, vitamins, and minerals that supposedly help you flush drugs from your system. Many people purchase these kits in the hope of clearing drugs like marijuana from their system before a urinalysis. But according to Columbia University, home kits are rarely effective. If you’re serious about leading a drug-free life, a home detox kit won’t usually springboard the behavioral changes or psychological transformation that are necessary for long-term sobriety.
  • Outpatient detox programs. Outpatient detox programs are conducted at clinics, private doctors’ offices, rehab facilities, mental health centers and other locations within the community. These programs allow patients to receive medical monitoring by doctors or nurses during business hours, and to take detox medications under supervision while living at home or in transitional housing. Outpatient detox is appropriate for patients who are motivated to keep their appointments and adhere to the requirements of the program without extensive supervision or structure.
  • Inpatient detox. Inpatient detox programs provide intensive monitoring, pharmacotherapy, and 24-hour supervision for those at risk of serious side effects or relapse. In an inpatient program, patients stay on-site while undergoing treatment. In order to provide continuity of care, an inpatient detox program may transition to a full rehab program within the same residential treatment facility. In many cases, inpatient programs offer medical detox as the first step.
  • Holistic detox programs. Holistic detox programs draw from a variety of alternative or complementary therapies, as well as traditional medical approaches, to detoxify the mind and spirit as well as the body. A holistic detox program may include nutritional counseling and spiritual support, as well as complementary detox therapies like massage, acupuncture, or yoga. Herbal remedies may be combined with conventional Western medicine to provide the best outcome.

Drug Detox Centers

Locating a drug detox facility can help you move away from regular drug or alcohol use. A quick internet search for “drug detox centers near me” or “local drug detox” may provide an overwhelming number of options. Sifting through listings for nearby drug detox centers may be daunting enough without adding national facilities into the mix. But in order to find the best program for you, you may look beyond a simple drug detox center and choose a full-length program that includes drug detox as the beginning of a continuum of care. The Recovery Village offers several rehabilitation programs throughout the country, most of which include monitored detox programs.

These centers ensure that you are given the resources you need to recover, not just undergo detox. Because detox is only the first step in a rehabilitation process, it’s important to have a plan in place for subsequent steps. At the Recovery Village, medical and clinical professionals provide individualized care by assessing each client’s personal needs. By developing a unique treatment program for each client, these centers treat the whole person instead of simply the symptoms of addiction.

Drug Detox Programs

Drug detox programs typically combine a number of medical and professional methodologies to help patients overcome substance use disorder. While each drug detox program may vary, they typically follow a model that ensures the safety of those seeking help, followed by a longer rehabilitation process that can encourage lifelong recovery.

The Detoxification Process

Drug detox programs typically contain three main steps:

Step 1: Evaluation

Evaluation is the first step in the drug detoxification process. Each person struggling with substance use disorder is unique, as is their addiction. Professionals agree that this may be one of the most important facets of a successful detox program. Body chemistry, the length of time a person has been using substances, and the type and amount of drugs taken all play a part in addiction. For that reason, to accurately diagnose and treat substance use disorder, a medical evaluation is necessary to plan and execute a detoxification program.

What to Expect During Evaluation
At facilities like The Recovery Village, medical professionals and staff work with each individual to gather information vital to charting out a successful drug detox. This information and screening will include some or all of the following activities:

    • An individual assessment specific to your needs
    • Blood tests
    • Co-occurring condition screening
    • Medical assessment
    • Psychological assessment
    • Risk assessment
    • Social assessment

Step 2: Detoxification

Detoxification is the process of removing drugs and alcohol from and medically stabilizing the body. This phase varies for each patient, but generally speaking, it is one of the most difficult. To combat drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms, staff members carefully monitor each person during the detox process. Discomfort is usually a given symptom during detoxification. To try to offset it as much as possible, comfortable, quiet rooms are provided.

What to Expect During Detoxification
During the detoxification step, The Recovery Village takes every possible opportunity to foster successful stabilization of the body. During this phase, you can expect:

  • Available, On-Staff Medical Professionals
  • Constant Care
  • Healthy, Nutritious Meals
  • Medication to Aid Withdrawal and Craving

Step 3: Transition to Further Treatment

Detoxification isn’t the same as rehabilitation. Addiction is a mental and physical disorder that takes time to treat. Detox is the first step in combating substance use disorder. Once the detoxification step is completed, it is time to move on to further treatment. Residential treatment is strongly suggested for many clients to help them develop recovery skills and regain a life away from substance abuse. In certain situations, other treatment programs may be recommended.

What to Expect During the Transition to Further Treatment
Once stabilized, clients begin to focus on developing recovery skills and regaining a life away from substance abuse. During the transition to inpatient treatment, you can expect:

  • Availability of the staff during intake and detox
  • Review of Your Treatment Program
  • Tips and Coping Mechanisms to Encourage a Successful Treatment Program

Throughout the entire process, you can be assured that The Recovery Village’s staff of professionals will be in your corner. Our goal is to help you break the bonds of addiction, and we take on every individual’s unique challenges as our own.

Drug Detox Symptoms

Withdrawal occurs when the brain and body are suddenly deprived of a drug after a person has become dependent on the substance. When you become addicted to a drug, your brain comes to depend on the chemical in order to feel good, function normally and avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms can vary from one drug to another. However, because many substances target the same neurological processes and influence the production of the same brain chemicals, withdrawal symptoms are often similar. Withdrawal symptoms are never guaranteed to be the same from one person to the next, as the severity of these symptoms depends upon a number of factors, including:

  • The drug(s) abused
  • The length of the addiction
  • The amount of the substance ingested during each use
  • Family history
  • Mental health conditions

While withdrawal symptoms can differ depending on the above criteria, they also occur in different forms — emotional and physical. Just like addiction itself can impact both the body and the mind, so too can withdrawal symptoms. With careful monitoring during detox, medical professionals can help ease and minimize these effects.

Detox and Withdrawal Medications

If you or someone you know is ready to detox from drugs or alcohol, a medication-assisted program may be the most comfortable option. Medical professionals will use a deliberate combination of medication and care to quell withdrawal symptoms and wean the body safely off of dangerous substances. These detoxification drugs should only be used under the supervision of a trained medical professional, as they can have serious side effects. These medications may include:

  • Anti-anxiety medications. Sedatives in the benzodiazepine family may be prescribed on a short-term basis to help reduce the anxiety, restlessness and muscle spasms associated with drug withdrawal. Because these drugs have the potential to be addictive, their use should be limited and carefully monitored.
  • Medications for alcoholism. There are several medications used in the treatment of alcohol addiction. Newer medications, including Acamprosate and naltrexone, work by blocking the pleasurable effects of drinking rather than by causing an aversion to alcohol like older medications.
  • Drugs for opioid abuse. For centuries, pharmacists have worked to develop drugs to resolve opiate abuse. Ironically, heroin was proposed as a cure for morphine addiction in the late 1890s. Since the 1960s, the most popular detox medication for opioid addiction has been methadone, a synthetic opioid that helps manage cravings and avoid relapse. Two other drugs, Buprenorphine and naltrexone, have also been used to help people get through the detox process and stay on track with their recovery program.
  • Drugs to alleviate secondary withdrawal symptoms. A number of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications can be prescribed to relieve physical withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, headaches or muscle pain. These drugs make it easier to cope with the side effects of withdrawal, so you can move into the next phase of recovery.

Alcohol Detox Drugs

Acamprosate (brand name: Campral Rx) is prescribed primarily for the treatment of alcoholism, but it has also been used to treat addiction to benzodiazepines, a group of sedatives that includes drugs like diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), and alprazolam (Xanax). Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of alcohol dependence in 2004, acamprosate has been prescribed legally in Europe since the late 1980s. The active ingredient in Campral is calcium acetyl homotaurine. Taken orally as delayed-release tablets, acamprosate works by restoring the normal function of neurotransmitters — especially gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) — to a brain influenced by alcohol abuse.

In a detox setting, acamprosate can help relieve the anxiety, restlessness and sleeplessness associated with alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal. By restoring healthy brain function, it can also aid in avoiding relapse in long-term recovery.

Naltrexone hydrochloride, an opioid antagonist, was first produced in 1963 to treat opioid dependence. In 1984, the FDA approved naltrexone for the treatment of opioid addiction and the drug was sold as Trexan. Through clinical studies of the drug, scientists discovered that naltrexone could discourage alcohol consumption by blocking the pleasurable feelings associated with drinking. In 1994, the FDA approved naltrexone for the treatment of alcoholism, and the drug was marketed as ReVia, an oral formulation. The drug is also sold by Mallinckrodt as Depade, and by Alkermes, Inc. as Vivitrol, an extended-release, injectable form of the drug. Today, naltrexone is prescribed both for opioid addiction treatment and for alcoholism. The drug is often recommended for patients who have already been through alcohol treatment or opioid detox, and who have moved on to the next phase of recovery. Naltrexone can discourage the use of these substances by blocking the sensations of relaxation, euphoria or contentment that these drugs can provide.

Because naltrexone is metabolized by the liver, high doses of the drug can cause liver toxicity and failure. However, for individuals struggling to overcome alcoholism, the risks of side effects from naltrexone are minimal compared to the severe liver damage caused by heavy drinking.

Disulfiram is one of the oldest detox medications used today. Initially developed in the 1920s, the drug was the first medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of alcoholism. In 1947, Danish researchers who were studying the drug as a treatment for parasitic infections discovered that it caused extremely unpleasant reactions after a person had consumed alcohol. In 1951, the drug received FDA approval for the treatment of alcohol dependence, and the drug was manufactured by Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories as Antabuse. Antabuse is now manufactured by Odyssey Pharmaceuticals.

Disulfiram discourages alcohol abuse by blocking the body’s metabolism of alcohol, causing severe side effects within 30 minutes of alcohol exposure. Reactions may include sweating, facial flushing, breathing problems, headaches, nausea and vomiting, chest pain, an irregular heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, weakness and seizures. The reactions to Antabuse are so severe that people often develop an aversion to drinking. Because of these intense reactions, many facilities and medical professionals have moved away from prescribing Disulfiram in favor of newer alcohol detoxification drugs.

The active ingredient in Antabuse is tetraethylthiuram disulfide. Antabuse is available in the form of oral tablets. Because it can cause severe side effects — aside from the reactions caused by taking the medication while drinking alcohol — the drug should only be taken under medical supervision as part of a comprehensive alcohol recovery program. However, because of its severe side effects, many professionals favor other medications to treat alcohol addiction. It’s important to find a facility that you trust to use the best medications and strategies for your unique situation.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder, The Recovery Village can help. With facilities located throughout the country, The Recovery Village offers a full continuum of care, with medical detox and inpatient and outpatient programs available at most facilities. By treating the whole person instead of simply the symptoms of addiction, The Recovery Village encourages healing of both the body and mind for long-term recovery.

Drug Detox
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Drug Detox was last modified: December 27th, 2017 by The Recovery Village