Drug Detox Remains Safer Than Most Cases of Alcoholism Detox

By The Fix staff 01/21/15

Drug Detox Remains Safer Than Most Cases of Alcoholism Detox

Drug Detox

The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines detoxification, or detox, as the process by which a person enters a forced period of withdrawal in the hopes of successfully stopping a substance abuse disorder. The detoxification process drives the chemicals from the body and can cause difficult-to-manage symptoms of withdrawal.

Addiction affects the lives of millions of people, but few make the decision to seek treatment for their addiction. Out of more than 5.2 million people who needed treatment in 2009, fewer than 200,000 actually received treatment for drug abuse. It's important to remember that drug treatment includes the processes of detoxification and withdrawal.

Symptoms of Drug Addiction

Several symptoms characterize drug addiction, and they can help you determine the best course of treatment to proceed with. Not only will it help you select an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility, but also you will be able to more easily address how easy it will be for someone to go through the detox process on his or her own. Some of the common behaviors or symptoms of addiction include feelings that the drug must be used on a regular basis. While some might consider this symptom to be applied throughout the day, it can actually be stretched out over time periods of up to one week.

A person with an addiction to drugs will likely have intense cravings for the drug and develop a tolerance to the drug. The increasing tolerance will require a large dosage of the respective drug in order to achieve the same effect. Other symptoms include spending money on drugs that should have been used to pay other expenses, setting aside money to pay for drugs explicitly, failing to meet obligations at work or school, withdrawal from social and recreational activities, engaging in high-risk behaviors to get the drug, such as stealing or becoming involved in risky sexual behavior, driving under the influence of the drug, focusing more time on using the drug, and being unsuccessful in attempts to stop using the drug on your own.

Does Detox Mean You Are Cured of Your Addiction?

No. Detox is not the only factor in the success of treating addiction; however, it is the initial phase of treating drug addiction. In addition, drug detox principles could also be applied to those wanting assistance in smoking cessation. However, most physicians will not prescribe the medications to address the associated anxiety and depressive symptoms of tobacco withdrawal beyond common medications approved for the smoking cessation treatment.

Medications for Drug Detox

Opioids and Prescription Drug Detox

One of the primary means of addressing detox from opioids and prescription medications, such as opioid medications, remains the use methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that 2 million people in the U.S. have a dependency upon opioids.

Methadone can be used as a temporary solution for the treatment of withdrawal symptoms during the detox process following addiction to heroin, opiates, methamphetamines, or prescription pain medications. All Opioid Treatment programs (OTPs) are regulated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Although the total number of people receiving methadone for the treatment of substance use disorders rose from 227,000 in 2003 to more than 200,000 in 2011, the number of accessible facilities has remained stagnant. Furthermore, the number of OTPs providing treatment through buprenorphine increased 41% over this same period of time.

Naltrexone blocks neurotransmitters from binding to the receptor sites responsible for the effects of using opiates. This can provide an excellent chance for a person to forget the feelings associated with opiate use. However, this medication should not be utilized during the most intense portion of the detoxification process. Methadone and buprenorphine will be unable to slowly reduce the withdrawal symptoms during detoxification if naltrexone is administered as well.

Outpatient Drug Detox

Depending upon the severity of the addiction, the detox process can be achieved without the need to enter an inpatient detox unit. Outpatient drug detox requires a person to remove himself from environmental and social situations in which drug use would normally be a part of. However, an inpatient unit will have the ability to address any other medical needs or addiction to alcohol. Detox from alcohol dependency should occur at an inpatient unit due to the possibility of life-threatening withdrawal reactions.

Advantages of Outpatient Drug Detox

There is only one advantage to going through the drug detox process at home: You get to stay home. However, you can still access resources for obtaining withdrawal treatment medications, such as methadone, outside of an inpatient facility through needle replacement programs and methadone programs across the country. A complete listing of local opiate drug detox options can be found at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Inpatient Drug Detox

For individuals suffering from alcohol dependency, inpatient drug detox must be the only option for addiction treatment, especially if the person has a previous addiction history with respect to alcoholism or drug abuse. In addition to the benefits of inpatient drug detoxification, some may be forced via the criminal justice system to enter a drug treatment facility. Persons with an addiction may be ordered to complete a drug rehabilitation program prior to or after serving a specific prison sentence; however, not every sentence involving drug addiction requires treatment at a drug detox center.

Therapeutic Communities

Inpatient drug detox units encompass both short-term and long-term care settings for the treatment of addiction. For some, the addiction may be so severe that treatment in a residential, therapeutic community will be the best option for treatment. Persons suffering from addiction often stay in a therapeutic community for a time period of 6 to 12 months depending upon the person's resources outside of the community. However, some may have concerns over the cost of treatment for addiction. While many insurance plans may offer discounted or free treatment in inpatient care settings, persons receiving Medicare or Medicaid benefits are often fully covered for addiction treatment.

Medication Treatment and Psychotherapy

The medications for the treatment of withdrawal symptoms during drug detox allow a person suffering from drug addiction to endure detox; however, an inpatient drug detox center can provide treatment for any additional health conditions. For example, anxiety or depression occurring as a result of substance abuse or from another mental health disorder can be successfully treated at the same time.

Psychotherapy is an essential part of a drug treatment program, which starts during the detox process. The Mayo Clinic advises that counseling will be able to help someone with addiction develop alternative, healthy coping skills, make suggestions for avoiding drugs, offer advice about relapse, discuss stressful issues, and may include family members throughout the course of treatment.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on understanding thought processes, feelings, and the resulting actions interact with one another. The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that studies of Cognitive behavioral therapy have shown treatment for a variety of mental health disorders including substance abuse disorders. Furthermore, cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to treat the resulting symptoms of anxiety and depression that often occur in conjunction with recovery from addiction.

Cognitive behavioral therapy may be administered by a social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist, or a licensed counselor. Unlike most other forms of therapy, you will play an important, engaged role in the ongoing conversation of your treatment plan.

Multidimensional Family Therapy

This type of therapy was created for adolescents dealing with substance abuse disorders. In addition to assisting adolescents overcome their addiction, multidimensional family therapy seeks to improve the relationships between family members.

Motivational Interviewing

This form of behavioral therapy uses the desire of the person with the addiction as a rationale and driving force behind explaining the need to change thought processes.

Motivational Incentives

This last form of therapy commonly used to treat drug addiction uses positive reinforcement to assist a person in staying away from drugs. The concept behind this type of therapy could be reversed to remove pleasurable activities when a relapse occurs in a similar manner in which an intervention team member may threaten to do certain things if a person fails to get help with drug addiction.

Drug Detox Centers

A drug detox center acts more as a liaison between an inpatient unit and the benefits of outpatient substance abuse treatment. Drug detox centers offer referrals to healthcare professionals, assistance in obtaining safe sexual barriers, and support groups for those who have already completed an inpatient detox and withdrawal process. Furthermore, drug detox centers can provide new needles and items to help prevent the transmission of Hepatitis A, B, and C, HIV, herpes, or another disease capable of being transmitted by unsafe sexual practices or the sharing of IV needles.

Drug detox can be a frightening process, but it doesn't come close the complexity and severity of withdrawal symptoms seen in those suffering from alcoholism. You can get thorough, successful treatment for your addiction as well as any other mental health issues when you make the decision to get help.

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