MEDICAL DETOX: The First Stage of Addiction Recovery and Treatment
Medical detox information for drugs like heroin, opioid pain killers, benzodiazepines, alcohol, etc.
Alcohol enjoys a reputation as being a safe drug. People don’t associate alcohol abuse with the same negative images as heroin abuse or addiction. Alcohol is legal and perhaps the most widely used drug in our society. It is so popular, that there is almost no stigma attached to consuming it. Likewise, today’s society is seeing tremendous growth in the area of opioid-opiate pain killer addictions, such as with drugs like Percocet (oxycodone), Vicodin (hydrocodone), Oxycontin, etc.
Withdrawal from alcohol is common among heavy drinkers upon immediate cessation of drinking. Symptoms include tremors, cravings, anxiety, insomnia, vivid dreams, agitation, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and headaches. Severe symptoms, which can be life threatening include:
* Delerium tremens (DTs) are significantly more serious than “the shakes.” DT’s present within 2-4 days of the last drink and are characterized by disorientation, persistent visual and auditory hallucinations, agitation and tremulousness, and autonomic signs resulting from the activation of stress-related hormones. In fact, 5% of individuals who experience DT’s die from metabolic complications.
* Seizures occur in up to 25% of alcoholics going through withdrawal. They occur within 1 day of cessation of alcohol intake and can occur up to 5 days later. Likewise, without proper medical care, seizures are common among those coming off of benzodiazepine drugs like Valium and Xanax.
In contrast to alcohol, heroin has a reputation for being a harmful drug to get involved with. The media shows images of heroin addicts being homeless, dirty and strung out. Most people consider heroin use to be hardcore and something to avoid. Those addicted to heroin and prescription pain killers (Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin, etc.), all of which being classified as opioids, will generally be prescribed Suboxone or Subutex during their medical detox process.
The advent of medications like Suboxone and Subutex have completely changed the scope and awful nature of detoxification for opioid addicts. Both drugs, when used correctly and under the supervision of licensed clinicals, make the detox process far more bearable.
Those who use heroin and prescription pain killers regularly, develop a tolerance and increased amounts are needed to achieve the same desired effects. Immediate cessation can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms which start within 6 hours of the last dose and continue for up to 7 days. In 2015, there were over 15,000 overdose deaths from heroin in the United States. Heroin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Increased sweating, tears, runny nose
- Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting
- Muscle spasms leading to headaches or backaches
- Goose flesh, pupillary dilation, high blood pressure, rapid heart beat
- Anxiety, irritability, dysphoria, disturbed sleep, increased cravings
Detoxification from benzodiazapines can also be life threatening as seizures are likely to occur. People can go into cardiac arrest and stop breathing. The most commonly abused substances within the benzo class are Valium, Xanax and Ativan.
It is highly recommended that you seek licensed and reputable medical care while you detox from any chemicals to ensure your safety and comfort. However, with drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, hallucinogens and so forth, there really is no true medical detox requirement, and as such, most health insurance companies will not cover a stay in medical detox for these drugs.
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