Once someone suffering from a drug addiction or alcoholism has made the commitment to get help, detox is the first significant step in the recovery process. However, the exact process of detox can be difficult to describe because it is different for everyone. The severity of the symptoms associated with detox and Acute Withdrawal Syndrome depends on the addict’s physiological makeup, the types of drugs used and frequency and the total duration of the problem. Previous withdrawals also figure heavily on how severe detox can be. And because detoxing from some drugs and alcohol can be dangerous, detoxing in a medically equipped the facility is strongly recommended.
When a person becomes addicted to a substance certain neurons in the brain stop firing and essentially go to sleep. In fact, with consistent drug use, the central nervous system begins to depend on the chemical to maintain normalcy. When a person who is physically addicted suddenly stops using, neurons that were suppressed suddenly begin firing again, often sending confusing signals that can cause uncomfortable symptoms as part of the acute withdrawal process. These symptoms begin within 12 hours after the last intake of the drug or alcohol.
Symptoms experienced by people during acute withdrawal include restlessness, insomnia, tremors, night sweats, vomiting, hallucinations, severe cravings for drugs or alcohol, itching and some psychological symptoms such as depression, rage, and even suicidal ideations. More severe physical symptoms include pulmonary distress, delirium tremens, seizures, cardiac arrest and other serious risks. While these more serious symptoms are less common, they do occur, and it can be difficult to predict who might be subject to these complications.
The process of heroin detox consists of three primary parts:
The patient is evaluated for the types of drugs used, including testing of urine and blood. This is required because detox from certain substances can be dangerous is done too suddenly, which means that medical staff must be certain about the saturation level of drugs in the patient’s body. Mistakes in this regard can be costly.
The medical team will work to stabilize the patient with proper medication when required, access to psychological services and relief from pain and discomfort. Medical supervision ensures that any complications that do arise can be treated swiftly.
Detox is only the beginning of a drug addiction or alcoholism rehab program. Detox primarily handles the severe medical part of breaking free from addiction, while a true rehab center is required to secure a long term recovery program. Staff and physicians at a detox center will work with a patient to make an easy transition to whatever type of treatment should come next for that particular individual.
It should be noted that some substances can be dangerous to detox from. In some cases detox from the following substance can pose a significant risk of dangerous health complications and, rarely, death: Alcohol
Barbiturates (rarely prescribed today)
Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, etc.)
If you or someone you care about is suffering from an addiction and needs to get help now, please use one of the links below for a free consultation with an addiction expert: