Is Detox Always Necessary?

Detox is often an integral part of any treatment regimen for drug and/or alcohol addiction. Both inpatient and outpatient rehabs can offer detox services but not everyone needs detox prior to beginning treatment. The necessity of detox varies depending on the severity of someone’s dependence. For someone with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) who does need detox, seeking care through a residential rehab that is equipped to facilitate detox is wise. They can expect around-the-clock care from physicians and nurses who specialize in making sure the client is safe, comfortable and healthy.

When someone is detoxing, the medical team must individualize the treatment protocol based on what the person is detoxing from, how long he or she has abused the substance and the history of any previous attempts to abstain, among other factors. While it may seem counterintuitive since the purpose of detox is to wean someone off all addictive substances, oftentimes medications are utilized in order to safely manage the symptoms of withdrawal. Medicinal remedies are often required to alleviate a myriad of side effects of early abstinence including anxiety, tremors, upset stomach, muscle soreness and insomnia, just to name a few.

Medication Management During Detox

It’s common for an individual to enter treatment wanting to address quitting one drug—like alcohol, for instance—while still hoping to maintain their usage of another drug. Someone might inquire about safely detoxing from alcohol while still taking anti anti-anxiety medication, like Klonopin, for example. Most physicians tend to not keep people on Klonopin during detox because it is also an addicting substance. Having said that, while the doctors who oversee detox usually make every effort possible to not administer drugs that can be addictive themselves, occasionally they are warranted—the intention, of course, is to use them on a short-term basis only. One of the benefits of a medically monitored detox is making sure the client is not at risk of developing a reliance on a new drug, while he or she is in the process of eliminating the previous drug(s).

Someone coming into treatment with a co-occurring dependence on multiple types of drugs is typically treated in a way that weans them off everything. However, certain drugs can be helpful initially during detox—it really just depends on the person and the primary substance on which they were physically dependent. Klonopin is a type of benzodiazepine, a drug commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and seizures. Also known as “benzos,” benzodiazepines are also often implemented during the treatment of Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS). Benzos primarily affect the central nervous system, simulating a sedated feeling and tranquilizing muscles, in order to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Not all benzos are created equal. Klonopin is what’s known as a long-acting benzo, meaning it takes slightly longer for any signs of dependence to appear, but it is still considered a high potency benzo and therefore must be taken with caution during detox. It’s intended for short-term use, therefore often administered during alcohol detox just to treat the very early withdrawal period.

Valium and Librium are some other commonly prescribed long-acting benzos. Xanax and Ativan are examples of a short-acting benzos, and are also regulated closely during alcohol detox, if they are even utilized.

More About Benzos

 The effectiveness of benzos during detox really depends on the client but all should be prescribed with caution considering their addictive potential. A person prone to addiction disorders is definitely at a higher risk of benzo abuse and dependence. According to a report published by American Family Physician, “…dependence will develop sooner (such as in one to two months) in a patient who is taking a high dosage of a high-potency agent such as alprazolam [Xanax] than in a patient who is receiving a relatively low dosage of a long-acting, low-potency agent such as chlordiazepoxide [Librium].” So it’s clear there is evidence that not all benzos have the same impact; therefore it’s up to the doctor and his or her treatment team to evaluate which ones will be most effective during detox, if used at all.

The report from American Family Physician also goes on to say, “Although benzodiazepines are effective in a wide range of medical and psychiatric conditions, caution must be exercised with their use, particularly when these agents are prescribed to patients with an active or remote history of substance abuse or addiction. Their greatest asset is also their greatest liability: drugs that work immediately tend to be addictive.”

Luxury Detox

Recovery Malibu is a luxury residential treatment facility on the coast of beautiful Southern California. It offers dual diagnosis support and individualized care in a comfortable and serene setting. Detox is considered a crucial part of programming and as such, clients in this stage of their recovery can expect around the clock medical supervision and personalized attention. The careful monitoring of a well-qualified staff ensures residents are not at risk for developing further dependence on additional drugs, such as benzos like Klonopin. And for those who come in with a current reliance on certain types of benzos, they can rest assured that every issue will be addressed.

Once they are physically stabilized, the men and women at a high-end rehab like Recovery Malibu are in a comfortable, caring environment and ready to take on the emotional and mental efforts required in early recovery.