Detoxing Safely

There are a number of medications available to make the process of detoxing from drugs and/or alcohol safer and more comfortable. Access to these types of medications and proper utilization of their benefits is one of many reasons why it’s advisable to undergo detox in a medically supervised, residential treatment setting. The types of drugs prescribed during detox by a physician specializing in addiction medicine can depend on a number of factors including the specific substance the client has been abusing, the length of time he or she has been dependent on it and the relevant history in terms of previous attempts to quit.

Of course, one of the primary keys to a successful detox is utilizing drugs that do not have addicting potential themselves so a person isn’t then reliant on yet another substance that will require detox or even mild withdrawal management. The non-addictive drugs most commonly administered during detox are aimed at alleviating nausea, curbing anxiety, soothing muscle soreness and assisting with sleep. Sleeplessness, nausea and severe anxiety are to be expected during detox so the medications aimed at treating those symptoms are usually the most helpful.

Commonly Used Detox Medications

Some of the specific drugs prescribed to help reduce anxiety during detox are benzodiazepines, a class of drug known to treat conditions rooted in an over-activity of nerves, namely anxiety, panic disorders and seizures. Benzos are seen as particularly effective for someone detoxing from alcohol and/or stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine. The type of benzos used can vary per person but some of the most commonly prescribed ones to alleviate anxiety during alcohol detox are clonazepam (Klonopin, for example), chlordiazepoxide (Librium, for example) or lorazepam (Ativan, for example). Diazepam is a benzodiazepine often implemented during stimulant detox. Benzodiazepines are intended for short-term use only and are usually tapered down as the client stabilizes. Benzos are perhaps some of the only detox drugs that can be addictive themselves so it’s of upmost importance that a person taking them does so under a doctor’s guidance. In fact, if someone is detoxing from benzos (such as Xanax), they are often given a short-acting form of the drug, such as diazepam or chlordiazepoxide, to replace the long-acting ones that he or she might have been abusing.

Someone detoxing from alcohol or any type of drug might also benefit from sleep-aid medications such as Trazodone, which also works as an anti-depressant (another type of drug commonly associated with detox). The aforementioned benzodiazepine type drugs can also help with sleep, depending on what substance the person is detoxing from. A doctor can usually discern what sleep medications are safest for someone struggling with alcohol dependence or a general substance use disorder. According to the Journal of Addictive Diseases published through the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Carbamazepine and Gabapentin are two of the most effective medications available for someone suffering from the sleeplessness associated alcohol withdrawal.

Medicines that help alleviate the symptoms of nausea or upset stomach are also administered and can vary depending on the doctor’s preference and client’s circumstances.

Opiate Withdrawal

When someone is undergoing detox for an opiate-based drug such as heroin or painkillers like Oxycontin, the medications prescribed may differ significantly. Depending on the state of the client, opiate detox can regularly facilitate the use of buprenorphine, often generally referred to as its most recognizable FDA-approved form, Suboxone. Buprenorphine is an “opioid partial agonist” meaning, it results in effects similar to opioid-based drugs but to a lesser extreme. Its effectiveness increases with each dose but eventually evens out so the client is stable but not at risk of abuse or reliance. Besides buprenorphine like Suboxone or Subutex, naltrexone, such as Vivitrol or Revia, is often utilized in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)—a blanket term used to describe all forms of opiate-withdrawal medications, sometimes also referred to as Opiate Replacement Therapy (ORT).

The Ideal Detox Setting

Whether it’s alcohol, stimulants, opiates or sedatives, detoxing safely and comfortably is crucial. A safe detox ensures the person is in the best physical condition possible for the behavioral therapy involved in early recovery. Luxury rehabs are the ideal setting for addressing the physical, mental and emotional components of early abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Recovery Malibu employs the best physicians in the field as well as an extremely qualified and very experienced support staff, all working together to make the client’s experience as painless as possible. The cessation of drug or alcohol use by someone who has been abusing the substance for a prolonged period of time can be very dangerous. As such, a physician-guided detox with the proper medication can be essential and life saving.