Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is a chronic brain disease, and is listed as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5)….
In relation to substance abuse and addiction, this is an integral component to an individual’s recovery process, as his or her body must begin to function without the presence of any abused substance. Drugs and alcohol affect each individual differently. Hence, one’s detox experience will vary from person to person. Detox can be a rather uncomfortable process. Any individual that has habitually abused drugs and/ or alcohol will have created various physical accommodations for functioning with the presence of the abused substance or substances. When the substance or substances are removed from the body, or are no longer ingested, one’s body must make the necessary adjustments to learn to function in its absence. There are different detox methods that an individual can undergo, depending on their unique needs. The result that occurs from a successful detox will remain the same, removing foreign substances from one’s body, regardless of the method selected.
Detox methods are typically divided between two umbrellas terms: inpatient detox programs and outpatient detox programs. Inpatient detox programs can include medically supported detox (medical detox programs, medically supervised detox programs…etc.) as well as inpatient nonmedical detox programs that provide twenty-four-hour support and supervision for the individual undergoing detox. Outpatient detox programs have a range of support available. Some individuals may choose to undergo detox in their own home with minimal or no support, while others may opt to enlist twenty-four-hour support for the duration of their detox process, while remaining at home. Depending on the situation, in some cases it is best to undergo detox in an inpatient facility, with the assistance of medical professionals.
Risks of At Home Detox
While it is not uncommon for individuals to attempt an at home detox process, it is not always the safest choice. Depending on the type of substance abused, length of time an individual abused the substance, potency of substance, personal health history and frequency of use the withdrawal symptoms that can occur can be severe, and in some cases, life threatening. Furthermore, when individuals attempt detox at home the intense discomforts of withdrawal symptoms can lead an individual to relapse and return to the use of a substance in attempts to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. This, more often than not, results in an ineffective and unsuccessful detox, and can also increase the risk of overdose.
Medications Used in Detox
When an individual undergoes a medical detox, various medications are utilized in conjunction with therapeutic modalities to assist in the process. Most commonly medications that are administered during detox are used to help treat different withdrawal symptoms. Some examples of the medications prescribed by physicians to be used during the detox process include, but are not limited to the following:
- Antidepressants, such as Zoloft and Prozac, to reduce anxiety
- Clonidine, primarily used to treat withdrawal symptoms from opiate and/ or alcohol withdrawals
- Benzodiazepines, can help to decrease anxiety and irritability
- Suboxone, used to moderate severe opiate addictions
Medications can help an individual going through the detox process reduce some of the side effects and discomforts associated with specific withdrawal symptoms.
Detox Timeline: How Long Does It Last
The exact detox timeline will vary from person to person. As will the specific types of withdrawal symptoms and the duration of each symptom. Each detox experience will depend on several factors. These factors commonly include the type of substance abused, the potency of the abused substance, the frequency and amount of substance used each time, the method of ingestion (i.e. smoking, intravenously, eating, snorting…etc.), personal health history, presence of family history of addiction, presence of any dual diagnosis, and one’s genetic makeup. Generally, the detox timeline it akin to a bell curve: it begins the moment an individual ceases to use drugs and/ or alcohol, although the onset of withdrawal symptoms doesn’t usually occur instantaneously, followed by a period of acute withdrawal symptoms, then the manifestation of less severe withdrawal symptoms (that have the propensity to linger), and finally the tapering off of withdrawal symptoms.
Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous.
If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction.
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Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing neurological disorder. The Mayo…