Medical Detox for Alcohol and Drug Dependency
Approaching the recovery process for a substance use disorder starts with the detox phase of treatment. During the detox and withdrawal process the body will expel the associated toxins and begin to adjust to the absence of the substance. A medical detox refers to a detox from drugs or alcohol that occurs under the supervision and guidance of medically trained detox professionals. At LifeSync Malibu, each individual entering recovery will be safely guided through the detox process by our expert medical detox team.
What Happens During Detox?
You may be wondering ‘what happens in detox?’ After someone has developed a prolonged substance dependence or addiction the brain will have experienced some alterations. As the brain had become accustomed to the consistent intake of the psychoactive substance, adaptations were made. As the substance took over dopamine production, the brain reduced its natural dopamine production. Over time, the brain’s reward system became dependent on the substance and neural pathways were eventually altered.
When an individual has entered treatment they have ceased taking the substance. This causes the brain to become destabilized as it attempts to function without the daily intake. This response then plays out over a period of several days as the body exhibits the outward signs of related distress. In most instances, by day 5 of the detox process, most withdrawal symptoms will subside.
What Withdrawal Symptoms will I Experience?
Each and every detox experience will vary between individuals. Even those with the same substance use disorder may have completely different detox experiences. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on a host of factors, including:
However, there are some general withdrawal symptoms experienced by individuals with specific substances:
For certain substances a tapering schedule will be designed by the medical detox physician to slowly reduce exposure to the drug. This helps to avoid serious health risks during the detox process.
How Will the Effects of Detox be Controlled?
The importance of having a medically supervised detox cannot be overstated. Individuals going through detox and withdrawal may experience sudden and unpredicted symptoms that require immediate medical intervention by the detox team. This is why there is a need for constant monitoring of vital signs and withdrawal symptoms by addiction experts.
As someone goes through the detox process they will begin to experience emerging withdrawal symptoms. These begin about 8 hours after the last exposure to the substance, although the onset of symptoms varies between them.
The medical detox team will administer appropriate medications to help relieve symptoms and reduce the chance of a seizure occurring. Medications commonly used in detox include benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Librium, which can assist with reducing seizure risk and anxiety. Antidepressants may be provided, as well as clonidine and beta-blockers. Over-the-counter medications help relieve such symptoms as gastrointestinal distress, fever and headache, and muscle and joint pain.
Is Emotional Support Provided During Detox?
While a medical detox team is overseeing the physical symptoms they will also be assisting with the psychological effects of detox. Many withdrawal symptoms are associated with mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings. These professionals will address these symptoms and the coexisting emotional effects that could otherwise derail the detox entirely. One of the key roles of a detox team is to safely guide the individual through the rough patches of detox. Without this support they may not be able to endure the process, and might just give up.
What Happens After Detox?
Completing the detox is only the first step on the road to recovery from a substance use disorder or chemical dependency. It is a mistake to believe that detox is all that is needed to enter recovery. Without the psychotherapy to help change behavior patterns the addictive response to stressors or triggers will return.
Immediately following the medical detox the individual should enroll in a comprehensive treatment program. These rehab programs vary in scope and services, but should include the fundamental interventions of evidence-based treatment:
LifeSync Malibu provides medical detox services as well as all these treatment elements, and more.