November 21, 2023

Drug Detox: Symptoms, Treatments, & Medication

image representing signs xanax and alcohol withdrawal

What is detox from drugs? Drug detox, also known as drug detoxification or substance detox, is the process of eliminating addictive substances and toxic metabolites from the body. The primary objective of detoxing from drugs is to effectively manage the withdrawal symptoms that occur when someone who is dependent on drugs or alcohol abruptly discontinues use.

A detox from drugs can last from several days to a few months. Various factors influence the length of detox for drugs, including the type and quantity of the addictive substance, route of administration, family history of addiction, underlying physical health conditions, and co-occurring mental health conditions.

If you’re among the 46 million U.S. adults grappling with substance use disorder, you might be contemplating how to undergo a safe and comfortable drug detox. Read on to learn how to detox from drugs the right way and discover how to connect with addiction treatment in California.

Drug Detox Symptoms

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Withdrawal refers to the combined physical and psychological effects that a person encounters when they discontinue or significantly reduce their consumption of alcohol, prescription medications, or recreational drugs.

If you have been using a substance with a high potential for dependence and abruptly halt or significantly decrease your usage, you may undergo a range of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can vary widely in their intensity and duration, depending on the type of drug used and individual biological factors.

Withdrawal can be uncomfortable and potentially hadangerous. This means that you should consult your doctor before abruptly moderating or discontinuing substance use. This precautionary measure can help ensure a safer and more manageable transition.

Not all drugs affect people in the same way. The specific symptoms of drug withdrawal experienced by a person are influenced by factors that include the types of drugs used, the duration of drug use, the quantity of drugs consumed, whether the person combined substances, their overall health, and any pre-existing mental or physical health conditions.

One of the primary determining factors is the type of drug involved. While quitting opioids may trigger nausea, vomiting, and  hypersensitivity to pain during withdrawal, discontinuing benzodiazepines is associated with rebound symptoms of anxiety and restlessness.

The severity of drug withdrawal symptoms also varies, with some people experiencing only mild discomfort while others may be incapacitated by their reactions. This severity is typically influenced by the above factors.

The effects of drug withdrawal symptoms can manifest in various ways, including physical, psychological, behavioral, gastrointestinal, sleep-related, and cognitive symptoms. Categorizing these symptoms helps to illuminate the diverse effects of drug withdrawal.

  • Physical symptoms encompass a range of bodily reactions, such as fatigue, lethargy, sweating, shaking, clammy skin, tingling sensations, feeling cold, and muscle pains or spasms.
  • Behavioral symptoms can affect how people interact with those around them, often leading to agitation, irritability, frustration, and heightened anger during the withdrawal period.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms arise due to the impact of drug cessation on the digestive system, resulting in loss of appetite, nausea, stomach cramps, and vomiting.
  • Psychological symptoms involve mood, mental health, and overall well-being, commonly leading to anxiety, nervousness, hallucinations, paranoia, and delirium.
  • Sleep-related issues are expected during drug withdrawal, leading to insomnia, disrupted sleep patterns, and nightmares, as the body’s internal balance is disturbed without the presence of drugs.
  • Cognition symptoms refer to the challenges in thinking and processing information during the withdrawal phase, leading to confusion, disorientation, difficulties in concentration, and a slowed thinking process.
image representing detox from drugs

Drug Flu

Drug flu, also known as substance withdrawal syndrome, refers to a group of symptoms that can arise when someone abruptly stops using a drug upon which they are dependent. The term drug flu is colloquially used to describe the flu-like symptoms that can occur during this period. These symptoms can include body aches, chills, fever, and sweating, similar to those experienced during a typical influenza infection. That said, drug flu may encompass a range of other physical and psychological symptoms depending on the specific substance involved. Managing drug flu often requires medical supervision and support to ensure the safety and well-being of the person undergoing withdrawal.

Drug Detox Treatments

Opting for a home detox rather than engaging with formal detox treatment can pose significant dangers and even life-threatening risks. Abruptly quitting drugs without medical supervision – commonly referred to as going cold turkey – can lead to severe consequences, including seizures and extreme dehydration.

To mitigate these risks, inpatient or outpatient detox programs are designed to prevent potentially dangerous complications. Inpatient detox programs are highly recommended for those with severe addictions as withdrawal symptoms can prove fatal. In these programs, around-the-clock support and monitoring are provided to ensure safety and well-being.

Everyone will have different detox requirements that call for personalized treatment during the drug detox process. Typically, this process consists of three stages:

1) Evaluation

During the first phase, the medical team conducts thorough assessments, evaluating both physical and mental health. Utilizing blood tests, doctors determine the levels of drugs present in the system, which aids in establishing the appropriate course of medications. A comprehensive review of drug history, medical background, and psychiatric records sets the foundation for an effective long-term treatment plan.

2) Stabilization

The next phase of detoxification involves stabilizing the person through a combination of medical and psychological therapies. The primary goal of stabilization is to avert any potential harm. In some cases, doctors may prescribe addiction treatment medications to minimize complications and alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

3) Preparation for treatment entry

The final step of the detox process involves preparing the person for the transition into a comprehensive treatment program. Medical professionals familiarize individuals in recovery with the treatment procedure and provide them with a clear understanding of what to expect. In the context of detox, inpatient rehabilitation programs are widely regarded as the most effective route to ensure a successful recovery post-detox.

Drug Withdrawal Medication

Drug withdrawal medication can be a highly beneficial aspect of the detoxification process for individuals struggling with substance abuse. Various medications are used to manage withdrawal symptoms and help ease the transition to sobriety. These medications are normally administered under the supervision of healthcare professionals in specialized treatment programs.

Some common drug withdrawal medications include:

  • Methadone: Used for managing opioid withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings.
  • Buprenorphine: Helps alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  • Naltrexone: Blocks the effects of opioids and alcohol, reducing the desire to use these substances.
  • Acamprosate: Assists in maintaining abstinence from alcohol by minimizing the unpleasant effects of withdrawal.
  • Disulfiram: Discourages alcohol consumption by causing unpleasant reactions when alcohol is ingested.
  • Clonidine: Assists in managing some of the physical symptoms associated with opioid and alcohol withdrawal, such as anxiety, agitation, and muscle aches.
  • Benzodiazepines: Used in managing alcohol withdrawal symptoms and preventing potential complications, such as seizures and delirium tremens.

These medications are prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan and are administered alongside talk therapy, counseling, and other support services to ensure a successful recovery journey.

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Call Addiction Hotline Today to Get Treatment for Drug Detox

If you need help detoxing from drugs but you have no idea what to do first, call Addiction Hotline at 855-701-0479 any time of the day or night.

Learn how to detox drugs safely and comfortably by speaking with one of our trained and experienced professionals who can help you connect with licensed medical detoxification centers and rehab centers throughout the state of California. Detox addresses the physical aspect of dependence on drugs, prescription medications, or alcohol. Ongoing treatment is normally required to help unpack the psychological component of substance use disorder.

Hotline staff can help you access inpatient and outpatient treatment centers near you so you can move beyond a life defined by addiction. Start the drug detox process today by calling 855-701-0479.

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Compassionate Care for Substance Abuse Treatment

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