[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”DETOXIFICATION” font_container=”tag:h1|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]Alcohol and drug detoxification is the removal of toxins that have accumulated in the body as a result of physical dependence on drugs and the treatment of effects that are immediately felt by the drug user after they stop using the drug also referred to as withdrawal effects. Detoxification can also refer to the treatment given to a person who has overdosed on a drug.
The process of detoxification can either be done in inpatient treatment centers such as a residential treatment center or in outpatient centers such as private clinics. Inpatient centers have the advantage that the patient can be closely monitored by the physician, the patient doesn’t get access to the drugs and therefore doesn’t relapse and detoxification takes place within a shorter period. Outpatient centers have the advantage that their less expensive and don’t radically change the lifestyle of the patient. Physicians are able to choose whether to admit the patient to an inpatient center or an outpatient center based on different factors including the period the patient has abused the drugs, amount of drug abuse, their age and their medical history. In the United States, there are detoxification centers across the country that are licensed to specifically offer detoxification services.
In the United States, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, there is a three step process that is to be used in drug detoxification. The first step is Evaluation where the patient is tested for drugs that are circulating and are present in their system. Other aspects that are evaluated by physicians include the mental and behavioral tendencies of the patient, dual diagnosis and potential co-occurring disorders.
The second step is Stabilization where the process of detoxification begins. It first involves the physician extensively explaining to the patient the process of detoxification, the treatment and the recovery stages and having the patient being aware and ready to commit to it. This process can either involve medications or not. However, in majority of cases, it doesn’t involve medications. It is at this stage that the patient needs emotional support and people who are close to the patient like family and friends are involved.
The third stage is Fostering the Patient’s Entry into Treatment and this is the last stage where the patient is prepared for the actual process of recovery and entails getting an agreement from the patient and his relations to sign in to a drug rehabilitation program. According to the United States based National Institute on Drug Abuse, this is intended to tackle the physiological effects of drug addiction since this isn’t provided during detoxification.
The use of alcohol or drugs for a long period of time can lead to changes inside the brain and physical dependence of alcohol or drugs can lead to dysfunction of brain cells once a person stops using alcohol or drugs. On withdrawal, the cells often send the wrong signals and this leads to physical and mental distress. This is referred to as withdrawal symptoms and often the person can’t bear the pain and anguish and they resorts back to the drugs. This is why detoxification is important and its goal is to make the process of quitting drug and substance abuse easier.
According to the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities carried out in 2007, in the United States, 6.5 percent of inpatient centers and 4.8 percent of hospitals provide drug detoxification programs. When determining the best set up to offer detoxification services to patients, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA), the following factors should be considered; the patient’s intoxication level, any medical or health issues affecting the patient, the possibility of relapse, if the patient is willing to change and the environment which the patient is in and if there might be any triggering factors.
Detoxification can either be through medical treatments or alternative remedies. The use of alcohol and drugs for a prolonged period of time leads to cellular changes and to reverse these cellular changes, medical treatments are required. Majority of the medications work like drugs in fooling the brain receptors that they have ingested those drugs but in reality these medications don’t have the effects of those drugs. These drugs therefore smoothen the path of recovery without the distress and pain caused by withdrawal.
Withdrawal from some drugs for example heroin can lead to seizures. In this case, medications such as benzodiazepine stop the seizures by resulting to less activity in the brain. When using medications, physicians provide the medications in doses ensuring they give the brain time to adapt. This applies to both alcohol and drugs. Medical detoxification can eventually lead to sobriety without huge ramifications on the patient.
There are several alternative therapies to detoxification. These include exercise to get rid of toxic substances inside the body through sweat, using bland foods such as dairy milk, fresh vegetables and juices and drinking plenty of water or meditation to help drug abusers be more aware of themselves and know what drives them into drug addiction and therefore be able to control their moods.
Rapid detoxification takes place when a patient is injected with medications referred to as opiate blockers. This happens when the patient is asleep and under anesthesia. The opiate blockers end the effects of opiates and narcotics in the body. Examples of opiate blockers that are commonly used include naloxone, naltrexone and nalmphemine. The patient is discharged after 48 hours and this process gets rid of drug dependence on the user. Rapid detoxification is done in intensive care units (ICU) in hospitals. Rapid detoxification is available to users of narcotics such as heroin, opium, morphine, Demerol. Darcovet, codeine and pharmaceutical drugs such as painkillers. Methadone is also another common method of detoxifying opiates where the patient is given doses of methadone for a 21 day period.
Drug detoxification as a method of treatment is successful in getting rid of the drugs present in the body of the user or saving the drug user in case of an overdose. However, rarely does drug detoxification assist the user from leading a drug free life since once detoxification is over, the person goes back to the environment that contributes to their relapse. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends that one should check in into a drug rehabilitation center after detoxification to so that they can get assistance in leading a drug free life.
Rapid detoxification has received criticism from medical experts since it is dangerous and ineffective and doesn’t deal with the physiological effects caused by drug use neither does it assist the user to adapt to a drug free life and many of those who have gone through rapid detoxification according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA) end up relapsing.
Methadone detoxification of opiates such as heroin and crack cocaine in majority of cases isn’t effective especially if the drug user doesn’t check into drug a rehabilitation afterwards since it causes severe withdrawals symptoms characterized by pain and distress in the first few days and this makes majority of those who receive this type of detoxification to relapse. It is only effective if it followed by rehabilitation and treatment.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, signing into an inpatient treatment program after detoxification reduces the chance of relapsing by 40 percent.