Most mind-altering drugs, including alcohol, cause severe, uncomfortable and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms when an addict suddenly stops using them. Addicts who are ready to begin the recovery process from drug and alcohol addiction usually must undergo detox, or medical detoxification, as the first step on the road to healing from substance abuse issues.
Why Detoxify from Drugs and Alcohol?
Physical dependence results from long-term abuse of alcohol and drugs such as opioid pain relievers, heroin, and cocaine. When a patient who suffers from physical dependence is unable to obtain the substances to which he or she has become addicted, neurotransmitters and receivers in the brain are affected as they are accustomed to functioning in a particular, disturbed way due to the presence of ever-increasing quantities of mind-altering substances. Therefore, unpleasant and dangerous withdrawal symptoms result when the brain sends messages demanding additional drugs or alcohol and the substances are not available.
These symptoms range from simple stomach or respiratory discomfort to increase in heart rate, breathing disturbances, and even dangerous seizures. Therefore, an addict who attempts to stop using addictive substances in an attempt to quit "cold turkey" will often fail or even endanger his or her health unless detoxification procedures are initiated to stop withdrawal symptoms.
Traditional medical detox does not actually "detoxify" the body by getting rid of stored poisons. Its aim is to stop the toxic effects of withdrawal by substituting less dangerous and less addictive medications for alcohol and abused drugs. The medications used for detoxification affect the same parts of the brain that abused substances do, so they answer the brain's call for additional doses of alcohol or abused drugs without causing the same damage or perpetuating the cycle of tolerance and dependency to the abused substances.
Detoxifying from alcohol and drugs is crucial to recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. Even when a patient is addicted to both alcohol and drugs, or if addiction to more than one drug is an issue, detox treatments will help overcome withdrawal symptoms so that a recovering addict can begin intensive counseling and rehabilitation in comfort and health.
If you or a loved one is ready to quit abusing alcohol or drugs, but needs help overcoming or avoiding withdrawal symptoms, please call our national drug recovery information helpline at 1-888-935-1318. We are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you find the right program for successful detox and addiction treatment.
Detoxification Options and Programs
Most detox procedures are offered in an inpatient setting. Residential rehabilitation treatment programs begin with medically supervised detoxification, and administering the detox treatments in the pleasant setting of a rehabilitation center helps patients to relax and become accustomed to a drug-free life. Detoxification can also be carried out in a hospital, although this is usually done only in cases of very severe addiction or when other physical or emotional health issues are present that require hospitalization. Outpatient procedures to detoxify recovering addicts are available, but outpatient treatment is usually only recommended in cases of mild addiction or when a patient cannot interrupt his or her schedule to spend time in a residential treatment center. Such outpatient procedures involve administering the detox medications in a clinic or office where the patient can be monitored in the event emergency procedures are necessary. Monitoring is also necessary to ensure that patients comply with their detoxification regimens and do not return to use of addictive substances.
Some clinics and treatment centers claim to offer natural methods of detoxification. If these methods are meant to detoxify the body in the sense of ridding it of harmful substances, and help it repair itself through diet and use of recognized alternative treatments, then such natural procedures can be helpful. In fact, vitamins are a part of some traditional detoxification procedures, especially when alcohol abuse, which leads to malnutrition, is involved. Traditional medical detox is the only method of treatment that has been proven effective when it comes to actually preventing the discomfort and possible danger of withdrawal symptoms.
Nevertheless, proper nutrition, exercise, and alternative health preservation techniques such as meditation are very beneficial to helping recovering addicts overcome their struggle with addiction. Once the initial detox procedure is completed, behavioral therapy and intensive counseling are necessary to help patients progress even further toward full recovery.
Full recovery from alcohol and drug abuse occurs when former addicts no longer feel any need to turn to mind-altering substances for recreation, or to deal with personal issues from which they want to escape. Recovery is best started with detox that prevents the detrimental effects of abrupt withdrawal from addictive substances, but medical detoxification is only the first step toward breaking the grip of alcohol and drug addiction.
Please call our nationwide drug and alcohol recovery information helpline at 1-888-935-1318 to find out more about comprehensive addiction treatment programs that include medical detox as well as full medical, psychological, and social support.