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Medical Detox

Medical detox is the process and experience of drug discontinuation and withdrawal under medical supervision. Also known as medically assisted detox, this process plays an important role in many drug treatment regimes. Depending on the substance and extent of addiction, medical detox may be recommended prior to rehab, with programs typically lasting for a period of days or weeks. While medical detox is not necessary for all substance use disorders, it is typically recommended for substances that produce a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome. Alcohol, heroin, prescription opiates, and prescription benzodiazepines all fall into this category. If you or anyone you know needs to access medical detox for a drug or alcohol problem, it is important to reach out for help as soon as possible.

How does detox work?

In the context of drug treatment, the process of detoxification is designed to enable the cessation of problematic drug use and reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. While detox does very little to address the psychological issues that surround drug addiction, it does help to stabilize patients prior to rehabilitation. By promoting abstinence and treating potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, medical detox is central to the drug treatment process. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, every comprehensive detox regime in Washington should include the following three stages: evaluation, stabilization, and guiding the patient into rehab.

The stages of rehab

The first phase of medical detox involves an evaluation period, including both physical and psychological examinations. This phase of treatment is crucial to the overall process because it enables medical staff to make a clear diagnosis prior to medication treatment. Physical blood tests are typically performed during this stage to check for currently circulating substances, with this phase of treatment needed to avoid potentially dangerous drug interactions. For example, while people are often given benzodiazepine drugs during medical detox, exposure to more than one central nervous system (CNS) depressant can cause serious medical complications. Along with a detailed physical examination, medical staff are also likely to perform a psychological assessment to check for behavioral addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders.

The second phase of detox is known as stabilization, with medications normally applied during this stage once a careful evaluation has been completed. While natural detox programs attempt to stabilize patients through drug discontinuation measures alone, medication support is vital for many conditions. Recovering addicts can only enter rehab programs once they are free of drugs and alcohol and stable enough to undergo psychotherapeutic treatment. The final stage of detox involves a consultation period, with patients advised about residential and outpatient rehab opportunities before being enrolled in the appropriate program.

Alcohol detox

Alcohol dependence is a physical condition, with distinct and potentially dangerous physical-somatic withdrawal symptoms experienced when alcohol intake is stopped. Common withdrawal symptoms include sweating, nausea, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations, and delirium tremens. A post-acute withdrawal period is also possible in some situations, with an extended period of medication sometimes needed over a long time period. Benzodiazepine drugs like Valium and Serax are often used during medical detox to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms before they create additional problems.

Opiate detox

Common opiate drugs include the illegal drug heroin and the prescription drugs oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, fentanyl, and morphine. These drugs are all associated with a physical withdrawal syndrome, including symptoms like nausea, vomiting, insomnia, cramps, and involuntary body movements. Medications are often used to help alleviate these symptoms, with the opiate drugs methadone and buprenorphine sometimes administered on a short or long-term basis.

Seek The Help You Need Today!

If you or someone you know is battling an addiction, pick up the phone and dial an addiction specialist to learn more about the benefits of medical detox.