Drug detox (informally, Detox) is differentially the initial intervention into a case of drug addiction; the actual process and encounter of a total withdrawal syndrome; and whatever therapies for severe drug overdose are offered. The first step into any treatment process is detox. Inpatient treatment has several variations: from inpatient outpatient care in which the addict remains in their facility, all the way to inpatient community or nursing home care where the patient is admitted to a long term care facility. Within the term of the program, the duration of inpatient care can range from a few days to a few weeks.
The duration of inpatient treatment will influence the drug detoxification procedure and duration of symptoms experienced. Longer time frames are recommended for long-term treatment because patients may need to withdraw from medications while undergoing treatment, which can lead to harmful side effects if left unchecked. Symptoms of withdrawal include insomnia, nausea, dizziness, and the sudden urge to use drugs. Many patients have also reported feelings of intense fear and apprehension. This fear is common for anyone undergoing treatment for substance abuse; however, it can be a particularly traumatizing experience for someone who is chemically dependent.
Many times, the reasons for the patient’s dependency on substances are difficult to determine, especially when the patient’s addiction is relatively recent. Substance abuse can be related to psychological causes such as trauma, stress, depression, anxiety, or personal losses, while co-occurring illnesses can also increase vulnerability to drug detoxification process. Co-occurring illnesses that increase vulnerability include alcoholism or bipolar disorder, drug abuse, diabetes, asthma, and other conditions that affect one’s emotional state. Common conditions that can increase the probability of developing substance abuse or dependence include hypoglycemia, migraine headaches, and hypoglycemia triggered by certain foods.
To begin the drug detoxification process, healthcare professionals will conduct a thorough physical examination to rule out any underlying medical causes for the addiction. If these conditions are ruled out, the doctor will then begin a pre-screening process to determine any potential allergies or medical conditions that could cause symptoms during treatment. This process is particularly important for individuals with a history of organ transplant or radiation therapy, as there is a risk that an infection could be carried along with the body organs. Once a complete medical exam and thorough medical screening has been completed, the healthcare professional will begin a comprehensive treatment plan to assist in the recovery of the patient.
The actual drug detoxification procedure varies from patient to patient. In some cases, the individual may be sedated and prescribed non-narcotic pain relievers to help control their discomfort. Other patients may undergo a process of detox in which they are treated with medications such as benzodiazepines. Other patients may be given medications to stabilize their emotional states before being put under medical supervision. No matter what form of treatment is administered, the goal of any effective treatment program is to effectively control and eliminate all remaining drug use from the patient’s body.
The success rate of any drug detoxification process varies among individuals. Individuals who have already suffered from another addiction may not have fully recovered from their previous addiction, so it is common for them to experience cravings during the drug detoxification process. However, many drug detox patients report little to no withdrawal symptoms at all, allowing them to return to normal and healthy lives with the help of their healthcare professionals once their detoxification period is over. Once an individual is free of the drug addiction, they may begin a new healthy lifestyle with the assistance of their healthcare professionals.