Detoxification–What is it?
Detoxification is most commonly called ‘detox’. It refers to the first stage of addiction treatment in which drug use is stopped and the body adjusts to abstinence. As the word implies, detox removes toxins from the body caused by drug use. It is a process that occurs over a period of time and the length of detox is dependent upon the type of substance(s) used, how much was used and for how long. Overall, the detox time allows the body to ‘process out’ or metabolize any substances in the body. This cleanses the system of toxicity.
Medications, Withdrawal and Detox
The withdrawal process begins detox, and requires medical attention. Abruption cessation of some substances can cause serious health risks, and can even cause life-threatening conditions to develop. Medical monitoring and supervision can prevent such issues as seizure and stroke, for example. Very often, medications to help reduce the distress of withdrawal and detox are used for awhile. Below are some common medications used medically:
Alcohol Withdrawal–medications used for alcohol withdrawal can include benzodiazepines, chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and phenobarbitals.
Stimulant Withdrawal–medications used for stimulant withdrawal can include benzodiazepines and some antidepressants such as desipramine (Norpramin).
Opiate Withdrawal–medications often used in withdrawal from opiates include methadone, clonidine and buprenorphine that reduce withdrawal symptoms. Other medications for symptoms can include anti-inflammatory medications for body aches and anti-nausea medications.
Other Detox Interventions
Other detox interventions include help with the psychological difficulties of withdrawal and detox. While we are physically, or physiologically, dependent upon an addictive substance we use, we are also typically psychologically dependent upon them as well. This means that we come to believe using is vital to our lives and we fear not being able to cope with substances. We also fear the distress of withdrawal and typically have a great deal of anxiety about it. Consequently, other more psychologically oriented help is very beneficial. This can include:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Coping skills development
- Anger management skills
- Stress reduction skills
- Communication skills
Supportive therapies can involve all of the above and are considered supportive because they help ease the early stages of recovery, but also empower the recovering person to be successful in recovery. Treatment programs typically provide an array of such modalities at the same time. This gives participants an immersive experience in recovery efforts and surrounds them with various types of support to meet multiple needs. The transition to a substance free life is greatly eased and boosted by such interventions.