Over the years, drug use and drug addiction has continued to escalate. While many individuals would love to get help for their addiction, many are fearful of entering detox because of the discomfort that is associated with drug and alcohol withdrawals. Fortunately, many treatment programs utilize medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms that can be uncomfortable or painful during the detox process. Keep reading to learn more about detox and the medications that are used to help manage withdrawal symptoms. 

What is Detoxification?

The detoxification process is often the first step in an individual’s recovery from addiction. According to the Addiction Center, detoxification is the process of clearing the body of any drugs or alcohol that an individual has consumed. Everyone’s experience with detox is different and can vary depending on the type of substance that was consumed and how long it was used. On average, this process can last between 7 to 10 days. 

The goal of this process is to minimize any negative effect of withdrawal symptoms, making the experience feel as comfortable and safe as possible. Research has shown that the most effective form of detox is one that is medically assisted and has been supported by trained professionals. 

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

As drugs or alcohol are gradually removed during the detoxification process, the brain has to adjust to the sudden drop in the chemicals; this typically results in a variety of unpleasant symptoms, often referred to as withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can range from physical to psychological. 

Physical withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Nausea, diarrhea, & vomiting
  • Shaking & Shivering
  • Sweating
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Runny nose
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headaches
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Exhaustion
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vivid & unpleasant dreams
  • Muscle & bone pain

Psychological withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Intense cravings for that substance
  • Inability to concentrate

In severe cases, an individual may experience hallucinations, delirium, and/or seizures. 

Medications Used During Detoxification 

To help lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms and to ensure that the patient feels as safe and comfortable as possible during the detoxification process, many treatment programs will administer controlled medication as part of the process. This medication is often used to help ease depression and anxiety, help enable sufficient sleep, and help to counteract many other side effects as well. 

Some of the medications that are most commonly used during the detox process include:

  • Naltrexone: This is used in the treatment of both opioid and alcohol disorders. In order to receive naltrexone during detox, a patient must be clean from opioids for at least seven days. 
  • Methadone: You’ve probably heard of methadone before; it is used to prevent opioid withdrawal and has been since the 1950s. Although it is a fully activated opioid with all of the same risks, under proper monitoring, methadone is a highly effective way to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Treatment centers who prescribe this must be federally licensed to do so. 
  • Suboxone: This has been an approved treatment for opioid use disorder since 2002. Although it is equally as effective to methadone, suboxone carries less addiction and opioid risk. Prescribers are required to attend one day of training on suboxone due to its physiology and status as an opioid used in treatment. 
  • Disulfiram: This was the first medication ever approved for alcoholism treatment. If a person drinks alcohol while on Disulfiram, it will cause nausea and vomiting. The idea with this medicine is that an individual won’t continue to drink if the Disulfiram makes them sick.

Addiction Recovery at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Centers

Here at Palmetto Addiction Recovery Centers, our team of professionals understands that recovery is unique to everyone and will work with you to create a treatment plan that works best for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorders, treatment professionals are standing by to help with a variety of treatment options. Call or visit Palmetto Addiction Recovery Centers Today.