Why a Medical Detox?
Substance Use Disorder (SUD) affects people mentally, emotionally and physically.
They are rarely able to think clearly due to constantly being high or intoxicated, or on the occasions when they aren’t under the influence, they are usually consumed by the desire to drink or use. They are often unable to cope with normal human emotions and instead rely on a constant state of numbness. And finally, they are usually physically addicted to their substance of choice, to the point that a sudden cessation of usage can result in dire consequences if not properly addressed. Addictive substances can range from cocaine to alcohol to prescription painkillers. Even drugs that are initially prescribed by a doctor have the propensity to spawn addictive behavior. In fact, prescription medications are sometimes the hardest drugs to wean off of; the United States’ opioid epidemic is certainly evidence of that. Physical dependence on alcohol or drugs usually requires what’s commonly referred to as “detox,” during the initial period of abstinence.
Detox is the process of ridding the system and bloodstream of all the drugs to which a person is physically addicted. While detox in general can be dangerous, the risk of harm really depends on the type of substance(s) and the length of time that someone has been abusing them. Thankfully, there are more options than ever for undergoing detox in a safe, medically supervised atmosphere. With a medically supervised detox, like one you might find in a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility, a doctor well versed in addiction medicine individualizes the detox regimen so the client withdraws from the drug as safely and as comfortably as possible.
Common Detox Symptoms
As previously mentioned, the dangers associated with detox can vary based on the substance and how long someone has been on it. Seizures are considered one of the most imminent dangers involved with detoxing from alcohol or benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Klonopin or Ativan—the latter three all being prescription medications that are normally prescribed for temporary use. Delirium tremens is also part of early alcohol withdrawal and characterized by hallucination, shaking and confusion. According to Medline Plus via the US National Library of Medicine, delirium tremens “occurs most often in people who have a history of alcohol withdrawal. It is especially common in those who drink 4 to 5 pints of wine, 7 to 8 pints of beer, or 1 pint of ‘hard’ alcohol every day for several months. Delirium tremens also commonly affects people who have used alcohol for more than 10 years.”
Otherwise, a lot of the symptoms of detox can be uncomfortable but not necessarily dangerous. People can experience nausea, vomiting and insomnia. Muscle pains and irritability are some of the primary symptoms associated with opiate detox. The physician overseeing the detox tries to address all of these issues with medications designed to make the person get through the experience with as little pain and discomfort as possible.
The doctor is also careful in prescribing medicine that isn’t also addictive itself. For example, benzos are often prescribed for anxiety but not every type of benzo is ideal for alleviating the anxiety associated with alcohol detox. A short-acting benzo such as Xanax might not be recommended whereas a long-acting benzo such as Librium could be helpful. There are also times when a patient may be struggling with co-occurring dependence such as alcohol coupled with benzos, or benzos and opiates. In these cases, every effort is made to ensure the client safely gets off everything, and is only given medication that doesn’t further aggravate the symptoms of withdrawal.
The Luxury Rehab Detox Experience
There is an additional level of comfort if someone decides to undergo detox and treatment in a luxury rehab setting, like Recovery Malibu, for example. Not only is the person attended by physicians or a nursing staff around the clock, but he or she also enjoys a myriad of amenities such as plush bedding, their own flat-screen TV and plenty of other “creature comforts” to make someone feel at home during what can be a very stressful time period. Clients can also expect healthy food that’s optimal for early recovery, as well as ease with transitioning into the therapeutic portion of residential program. It’s a huge asset when a rehab offers detox and the remainder of treatment at the same locale.
The advantage of undergoing detox in a medically monitored setting like inpatient rehab is that a doctor is able to provide medication management and make any dosage adjustments necessary. The physicians in charge might not be at the facility 24 hours a day but they are usually always a phone call away and in their absence, nurses can make sure the client has everything he or she needs. If it appears someone is in danger for any reason, there is always someone available to help.
There is no substitute for peace of mind, especially in the beginning stages of residential treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Choosing to get help at a high end facility that goes above and beyond to foster that peace of mind, with individualized care and luxurious surroundings, is definitely a choice that keeps one’s long-term health in mind.