An Overview of Drug Detox at Icarus Behavioral Health

Addiction can be very difficult for people to overcome. However, it is possible with the proper background knowledge and a strong recovery team. There are several methods of recovery, and each person will respond differently to them. Some methods work better than others depending upon how much time has passed since quitting, how strong the dependence, and other factors.

We’ll discuss some common methods of detoxing and talk about when they’re best suited for certain situations. We’ll also look at potential dangers associated with these techniques.

What Is Drug Detox?

Detoxification refers to the removal of toxins from the body. After an individual develops a physical and mental dependence on certain substances, detox is necessary as the first step in recovery.

Depending on the substance of choice, the detox period typically lasts anywhere from one to three weeks. Once individuals reach the end of the detox process, the most common course of action is to enter a treatment program.

However, many individuals suffering from substance abuse disorder find it extremely difficult to make it to this point. This is because of the extreme pain and discomfort associated with symptoms of withdrawal during the detox period.

When you stop using drugs, your brain releases chemicals called neurotransmitters, including dopamine, adrenaline, serotonin, endorphins, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), norepinephrine, acetylcholine, cholinticamine, glutamate, oxytocine, vasopressin, etc. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms and other side effects associated with the detox process are listed below.

What Is Drug Detox

Withdrawal and the Side Effects of Detox

The severity of these withdrawals varies according to the type of drug taken, duration of use, frequency of usage, past history of abuse, and other variables. People react differently to the same thing based on genetic predisposition, personality traits, health status, level of tolerance, and other reasons.

Mental side effects are prevalent and can be just as severe as physical withdrawal symptoms. The most common symptoms experienced during withdrawal include:

  • Stomachaches
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cold chills
  • Intense sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Headaches

Certain substances have more intense physical withdrawals than others. Opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines have the most intense physical side effects when it comes to withdrawal. However, substances like meth, cocaine, crack, and other drugs may still produce mild physical symptoms.

Additionally, the withdrawal period produces mental side effects like:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Extreme depression
  • Mental exhaustion
  • Inability to experience joy or pleasure

Individuals find it difficult to remain abstinent during the detox process because of these intense symptoms. This is when it becomes important to understand the features of a reputable detox center.

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Features of a Reputable Detox Center

Currently, because of the prevalence of substance abuse and the ongoing opioid crisis, a high number of detox centers and rehabilitation treatment facilities exist. Most of these centers are for-profit endeavors with business owners meeting the needs of their community.

However, the primary mission of any detox or rehab center should be to assist in the recovery process. It takes a true passion for helping people to open and run a successful detox center. The problem occurs when these locations surface solely out of greed, and the services provided are subpar.

You must be aware of the features of a reputable detox center to ensure you or your loved one falls into the right hands. Even if you are not able to choose Icarus Behavioral Health for your recovery, you should absolutely know what to look for, and the questions to ask of any accredited rehab. A professional and reputable facility should include the following elements:

  • All the proper certifications and licenses per federal, state, and local agencies
  • A professional staff that also has all of the proper licenses, certifications, and credentials needed to operate in this type of environment
  • A 24-hour medical staff on-site to monitor clients and administer medications as necessary
  • A physician on staff that’s able to prescribe medications at any time
  • Allow tours of the facility before clients make a decision
  • Willing to answer any questions presented by potential clients
  • Allow families to have access to clients during their stay and/or updates from medical staff regarding their condition
  • At the same time, adhere to privacy regulations for each patient
  • Assist clients in transitioning into the appropriate treatment program

The proper environment and procedures must also be present for any medically-supervised detox. Clients must be aware of what to look for, which is outlined in the following section.

What Is Medically Supervised Detox

What Is Medically Supervised Detox?

The most common form of detox involves using medications such as benzodiazepines, muscle relaxers, blood pressure medicine, and other options.

Many of these options reduce anxiety levels, sedate clients, and induce sleep. These types of treatments allow patients to gradually withdraw without experiencing severe physical reactions like tremors, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, elevated blood pressure, hallucinations, and depression.

Clients usually begin taking prescription medicine during their first week off of drugs. Over-the-counter medicines aren’t recommended because their effectiveness isn’t well researched.

Holistic Treatments Alongside Detox

Some people choose nonmedical approaches to detoxification. For example, one popular method uses acupuncture combined with meditation and breathing exercises. Another technique combines hypnosis and counseling sessions. One study found that motivational enhancement plus cognitive behavior modification was more effective than methadone maintenance alone in preventing relapse.

However, each situation is different, and it’s a matter of what’s most effective for the client. Regardless, certain stages and processes of the detox process vary depending on the substance in question.

The Stages and Process of Drug Detoxification

The stages and process of detoxification may vary depending on the specific drug a user is seeking treatment for. For example, opioids have a more intense period of physical withdrawal than cocaine and may require certain medications to relieve certain side effects.

On the same token, benzodiazepines have the potential to cause seizures and often require constant monitoring and a higher level of medical attention. However, generally speaking, there are three stages of detox regardless of the drug, followed by the post-acute period.

Stage 1

The first stage, sometimes known as the anticipatory stage, takes place during the first two days. This is the period when users have intense anxiety regarding the oncoming second stage, which includes the most intense side effects. During stage one, individuals will experience anxiety, headache, fatigue, and restlessness, among other symptoms.

Stage 2

Stage two is often considered the most intense period during the detoxification process. This stage includes heightened levels of anxiety, intense cravings, nausea, vomiting, tremors, intense sweating, and more. Seizures are most likely to occur during this period when it comes to benzodiazepines. In the case of alcohol, this is the time when DTs are the most severe.

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Stage 3

Symptoms will begin to decrease during stage three, although mild discomfort will persist. Users may still experience muscle aches, insomnia, and other symptoms.

For most people, detox lasts between seven and 14 days. Once the acute phase passes, patients must remain abstinent for longer periods of time.

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms may persist for months following detox. When users experience symptoms associated with post-acute withdrawal, there’s a sudden onset of some of the discomforts felt during the acute withdrawal phase, followed by intense cravings. These periods are random and short-lived but highlight the importance of motivation, dedication, and a strong support system in the months after detox and treatment.

When users participate in medically-assisted detox for these stages, chances of relapse decrease significantly, and their health isn’t jeopardized as much.

Is Cold Turkey Detox Dangerous?

Cold turkey refers to the abrupt cessation of a habitual substance without tapering down its intake. The idea behind cold turkey is to force yourself to endure intense cravings and uncomfortable sensations.

Using cold turkey may increase the chances of relapse due to psychological distress and boredom. Additionally, physical risks associated with certain substances like benzos, alcohol, and opiates, pose a high risk of physical complications.

It’s important to note that not everybody responds to cold turkey equally. Some people are able to withstand it better than others. However, this doesn’t erase the risks of at-home detox.

Is Cold Turkey Detox Dangerous

The Risks of At-Home Detox

Besides the increased chances for relapse, at-home detox may also lead to the following complications and risks:

  • Challenges associated with increased heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Health effects and physical risks associated with seizures
  • Complications from delirium tremens (DTs during alcohol withdrawal)
  • Furthermore, individuals who do relapse risk overdose because of a period of abstinence before engaging in abuse once more.

During medically-assisted detox, staff supervisors monitor patients’ vital signs throughout the entire detoxification procedure. They provide reassurance and support for both patients and family members.

Medical staff keep track of everything related to care, safety issues, laboratory results, and discharge planning. A physician monitors patients closely until he or she feels comfortable allowing the patient to go home. Even then, physicians occasionally check up on him or her just to see how things are going.

Unfortunately, none of these benefits are present during at-home detox. Regardless of the substance of choice, users who participate in at-home detox are in for a significant period of extreme discomfort. How long do the most intense symptoms of detox and withdrawal last?

How Long Does a Drug Detox Last?

It’s important to note that every individual is different, and their bodies respond in unique ways to the detoxification process. Normally, a higher metabolism leads to a much faster detox period.

Additional activities and habits may also assist in the speed of the detox process. Consider the following activities and habit changes while undergoing detox:

  • Physical activities and exercises will speed up the detox process.
  • Changes in diet that promote a stronger metabolism can lead to a faster detox. Additionally, certain may even decrease some of the severity of certain side effects experienced during withdrawal.
  • Increased water intake speeds up the metabolism and keeps you hydrated, leading to a shorter detox period.
  • Finally, certain supplements, vitamins, and minerals will also aid in detox.

It’s important to remember that you should never push your body or mind past its limits. Don’t overexert yourself during the detox period or fall into dehydration or overheating.

Additionally, you should also consult your physician before starting any regimen of supplements for the detox process. Even if what you’re taking isn’t a prescription, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The period after detox is vital for a client’s long-term recovery. What happens when the detox period is over?

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What Happens After Detox?

After detox, patients face numerous challenges. To help ease the transition back into normal life, professional counselors offer group activities designed to reconnect participants with themselves and their families. Such groups encourage peer interaction, teach coping skills, and promote healing.

These groups are available through inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities. It’s important to make the most appropriate decision based on where your odds are the best for long-term recovery.

At Icarus Behavioral our professional therapists guide clients toward self-improvement and rehabilitation. For instance, they address underlying emotional issues and teach coping mechanisms. Here are a few examples.

After treatment, aftercare must be the main focus. This includes continued effort towards mental wellness and remaining active in recovery.

Regardless of the specific path chosen, detox often lays the groundwork for building toward a successful recovery.

Using Drug Detox As a Foundation For Lasting Recovery

At Icarus Behavioral Health, we believe in detox as the foundation for a solid recovery and can help you find the right detox before you arrive at our facility. We have multiple options for treatment, including options for a holistic approach to recovery.

If you’re ready to start your journey, contact a member of our Admissions team to begin the enrolment process today and put the pain of withdrawal in your past!