How the Symptoms of Detox are Treated Safely
As stated by the NIH, “Detoxification under medical care allows the physician to treat the symptoms of withdrawal” safely and effectively as well as help the patient into the next phase of addiction treatment when necessary. Many individuals choose to go through detoxification at home, but this can put them at risk as many symptoms caused by withdrawal can be extremely dangerous. Consider attending a detox center for the course of your withdrawal syndrome and learn how the symptoms are treated safely in one of these programs.
The Components of Detox
Detox actually is composed of three components, according to SAMHSA:
- Evaluation: A patient’s condition and needs are assessed, and they are given a personalized treatment regimen.
- Stabilization: The patient’s treatments are put into effect and a combination of medications and therapy are used to stabilize the patient’s condition and minimize withdrawal symptoms.
- Transition: Once the patient has been stabilized and is ready to move on to addiction rehab, their transition is made easier by the clinicians and their treatment program is modified to reflect their changing needs.
These components of detox actually help protect patients from dangerous withdrawal symptoms. For example, individuals who become dependent on alcohol have the potential to experience tremors, fatigue, mood swings, irritability, and even hallucinations and seizures. In this case, the severity of the patient’s condition will first be evaluated. Then the individual will be given medication to minimize the symptoms they are experiencing (for alcohol withdrawal, sedation with benzodiazepines may be necessary). After the individual’s symptoms begin to subside, they are helped with their transition into addiction treatment.
Treatments for Detox Symptoms
Different withdrawal symptoms are treated with different medications.
- Alcohol: benzodiazepines and other sedatives, anticonvulsants
- Stimulants: anticraving agents, antipsychotics
- Heroin and Prescription Opioids: methadone, clonidine, or buprenorphine
- Inhalants: analgesics, benzodiazepines
However, some drugs like marijuana have not had any medications officially approved to treat their dependence syndromes. Still, doctors in detox clinics will do what they can to manage symptoms, whether that means providing patients with medication, therapy sessions, or other treatment types. Clinicians in detox centers also monitor a patient’s progress to make sure symptoms do not become worse.
Relapse: The Most Dangerous Detox Symptom
Withdrawal is one of the most likely times that an individual will relapse and begin abusing drugs again. And, in many cases, the person will overdose because their tolerance will have diminished during the time they spent abstaining from the drug. According to the NLM, “Most opiate overdose deaths occur in persons who have just withdrawn or detoxed,” and this can occur with other substances as well.
The relapse prevention is achieved in detox by transitioning patients into addiction treatment after withdrawal has ended. Detox is not a treatment in itself for addiction, and a patient will need behavioral therapy and possibly other types of medical care to fully recover from addiction. Detox treats the potential for relapse by helping patients continue into addiction rehab when the time comes.
The symptoms of detox are treated safely through evaluating a patient’s needs, providing medications and other treatments which help stabilize their condition, and transitioning them into further drug rehabilitation. By going through these steps, patients can withdraw much more safely.