Long-term use or abuse of drugs or alcohol causes the brain to become dependent on these substances that create a feeling of euphoria. Those who are dependent are unable to control use. Over time, they’ll need larger doses of drugs or alcohol to feel “normal.” In essence, they’ve become addicted. If they try to quit using on their own, they may experience severe or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms which could cause relapse or overdose.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, entering a detox program can loosen the grip of drugs or alcohol. A detox program is part of a wider and comprehensive addiction treatment program and is designed to help you quit substance abuse in a safe manner. There are inpatient and outpatient detox programs that provide a conducive environment for you to take the first step on the road to sobriety.
What is Detox?
Detoxification is a systematic process of allowing the drugs or alcohol to leave your system. It can be done at an inpatient or outpatient facility or medical center that specializes in drug or alcohol detox. It allows people with mild to severe addiction to withdraw gradually in a medical setting where they can get support for managing withdrawal symptoms.
Medically-assisted detox may be required if you struggle with severe addiction and can prevent serious health complications or fatality. People with severe addiction are better treated in an inpatient or residential setting where they can receive 24-hour supervision by medical and psychiatric staff.
Your doctor will give you medication to gradually taper you off the addictive substance. Medication helps to tame the effects of certain unpleasant or severe physical or psychological symptoms.
Several drugs were approved by the FDA for use in medically-assisted therapy (MAT). For example, buprenorphine and methadone are used for opioid detox while acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are commonly used for alcohol detox. These drugs help curb cravings and block the effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain if they are used in the future.
Physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms will develop during an alcohol or drug detox. These side effects occur when a person abruptly reduces or stops using drugs or alcohol after using it frequently over a long period of time. Withdrawal symptoms and timeline vary from one person to another and depend on the type of substance or substances (polydrug abuse) involved.
Symptoms typically develop several hours after taking the last dose. The level of addiction, the method of use, your own biological and psychological makeup, and the presence of underlying mental disorders all influence how your brain reacts when the substance begins to leave your system.
Drug Detox Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal from drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and prescription medication such as opioids, stimulants, and depressants yield a range of symptoms, including these:
- Fever, chills, or sweating
- Overpowering cravings
- Restlessness or agitation
- Depression or dysphoria
- Nausea and vomiting
- Extreme mood swings
- High blood pressure
- Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
- Rapid heart rate or heart attack
- Muscle pain, aches, or spasms
- Paranoia, hallucinations, or delusions
Alcohol Detox Withdrawal Symptoms
Various symptoms will occur at different stages of the process when going through detox for alcohol addiction. They include the following symptoms which are sometimes called alcohol withdrawal syndrome:
- Mood swings
- Loss of appetite
- Heart palpitations
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Restlessness or irritability
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sweating, fever, or chills
- Delirium tremens
- Sleep disturbances
Can I Detox at Home?
No, it is not recommended to detox at home. Addiction levels range in severity causing each individual to respond differently to detoxification. You also don’t quite know how severe these symptoms can get at various stages, particularly if you’ve never gone through complete withdrawal. Although you may be tempted to wean yourself off drugs or alcohol or even try quitting “cold turkey,” you should resist the temptation—by all means necessary.
Even if you have heard, or read, or have seen others quit on their own, trying to detox at home is unsafe, dangerous, and possibly life-threatening. For example, a heart attack or seizure is possible. Self-detox is a leading cause of relapse and drug or alcohol-related overdose deaths. For these reasons, it is always best to undergo withdrawal at a reputable detox center, hospital, or clinic.
The Detox Process
Our detox program consists of 5-10 day medically supervised medication regimen that safely assists throughout the withdrawal process. During this time, there are regular nursing checks and follow up to ensure that it is done comfortably for the client.
The detox process can last for several days or weeks depending on the level of drug use and the severity of the addiction. The main goal of detox is to help you lose physical dependence. It typically consists of these three general stages:
Intake: Before the actual alcohol or drug detox begins, you will be screened and evaluated by a doctor and psychiatrist. They’ll assess the severity of the addiction and whether you have any underlying mental health problem that is linked to substance abuse. Based on the diagnosis, they’ll decide on the level of care you need to help you recover.
Stabilization: You’re considered stabilized once your withdrawal symptoms subside and you no longer crave drugs or alcohol. At this point, you may be more accountable for your actions. You may be more self-aware and can appreciate that substance abuse is a habit that is destructive to your health, personal relationships, and career.
Preparation for entry into treatment: Detox also paves the way for psychological weaning off drugs or alcohol. The medical staff will discuss your current status and mentally prepare you to transition into behavioral therapy at our inpatient or outpatient rehab.
What Happens After Detox?
Substance abuse distorts brain functions and interferes with the way you think and behave. It causes you to deny the addiction or believe there’s nothing wrong with drug or alcohol abuse. Therefore, addiction treatment is more effective when detox is combined with psychotherapeutic treatment and counseling. This is according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Therapy is especially necessary for patients with co-occurring mental disorders, e.g., depression or PTSD.
Treatment involving behavioral therapy addresses how your environment, thought patterns, and responses to life’s challenges help fuel substance abuse. It guides you toward positive coping options, such as talking with your counselor or exercising when cravings try to get the better of you. Managing substance use triggers and staying in therapy, e.g., attending sober programs such as Alcohol Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, increase your chances of staying sober after rehab.
Choosing A Detox Program At The Detox Center of L.A.
At The Detox Center of L.A. in Los Angeles, California we treat drug and alcohol addiction, prescription drugs addiction and co-occuring disorders. The Detox Center of L.A. provides men and women struggling with addiction a safe place to detox. We offer inpatient and outpatient detox programs to suit your needs. The process is coordinated by trained and certified medical and mental health professionals who will give you the level of support and care you need to get you through this difficult period. We will also arrange to transition you into therapy for addiction treatment once you’re stabilized. Give us a call today to find out more and start the admissions process.
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