Drug detox is the first step in any comprehensive addiction treatment program, whether the drug of choice is alcohol, prescription painkillers, heroin, cocaine or a combination of substances. Depending upon the drug of addiction, the type of detox that will be most effective may vary, but the goal for each style of care is the same– physical and mental stabilization. Entering into treatment can be traumatic, and for many patients, the first few days of rehab are a rollercoaster. When withdrawal symptoms are an issue, it can mean serious physical illness and when there is a co-occurring mental health disorder as well, detox can become even more complicated. In some cases, medication may be necessary in order to help the patient stabilize.

Drug detoxification is a difficult time for any individual who seeks a full recovery. This time period is vital, because the temptation to use again is at peak strength. For this reason, a medically-supervised detox is a good idea. Any person who struggles with substance use can benefit greatly from a supportive medical team, a safe and comfortable environment, and some dedicated time away from the people, places, and things that were once associated with substance use or process addictions.

Once detoxification is complete, dedicated residential or outpatient treatment can help the wellness process and insure against relapse. Rehab treatment offers the benefit of a number of therapies designed to address the different effects of addiction on the mind, body and spirit. By taking a look at the causes behind substance use, patients can move past physical dependence and begin to understand the underlying causes of substance use and build effective coping skills for handling similar emotional struggles in the future – without turning to alcohol or drugs of any kind.

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Drugs also work by triggering the release of a large amount of certain chemicals associated with pleasure, like dopamine. They also block the natural recycling mechanism in the brain that reabsorbs those chemicals when appropriate. As a result, those who are under the influence of drugs often experience a brief flood of “happy” chemicals during the high associated with drug use– seeking a repeat experience of this high is one of the primary reasons for the development of drug addiction, even as a tolerance to the drug of choice builds with each use.

Over time, the changes caused by acute drug abuse can become permanent or semi-permanent. The ability to self-regulate mood and fight pain naturally can be diminished, leaving addicted individuals unable to find happiness or pain relief without drug assistance. Additionally, the person using the substance may also be unable to control certain impulsive behaviors associated with drug abuse – angry outbursts, emotional reactions, paranoia, etc. – even when he or she is not actively under the influence of a substance. The only way to address these changes is to seek drug addiction treatment that starts with a detox program that provides caring assistance from experienced, informed medical professionals. With quality treatment and dedicated effort, it is often possible for individuals to return to more positive mental and emotional states.

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Management of Detox Without Medication

Managing detoxification without medication is an effective option for some drugs of addiction but not necessarily recommended across the board, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. For example, acute cases of opiate dependence may be best treated with one of the medications listed above due to the intense nature of the withdrawal symptoms. However, detox from cocaine, alcohol, marijuana and other substances may be just as effective without medication. The appropriateness of this method may be based on a number of factors that will vary from patient to patient, including:

  • Length of addiction
  • Dependence upon other substances
  • Amount of dosage at time of detox
  • Diagnosis of co-occurring disorders
  • Underlying health issues

Patients are encouraged to discuss their drug history, medical history, mental health history, and previous attempts at drug addiction rehab with their intake team and consulting physicians in order to more quickly determine whether or not medication is the right option for their needs.

Detoxification Is Not Enough

Drug detox is a crucial first step in addiction treatment and patients who experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop abusing their drug of choice cannot skip this step. However, according to the Principles of Effective Treatment published by NIDA, detox alone is not a total treatment. Instead, the following should be a part of a comprehensive drug rehab program:

  • Individualized Treatment: Attention to personal needs. Drug addiction is the primary focus of detox and addiction treatment, but patients should also get the help they need for other issues as well. Problems at home, obstacles to employment or education, legal problems, health problems – all these should be addressed if they in any way exacerbate issues with addiction and trigger patients to relapse.
  • Therapy: Therapies that address daily needs in recovery. Nutritional counseling, exercise and workout training, yoga classes, meditation, acupuncture sessions, massage therapy, and even resume assistance or help getting copies of important documents that will aid in gaining employment or signing a lease – all these things can help patients to take care of the tangible details that will pave their way in recovery and set them up for success.
  • Inclusive Treatment Plans: Ongoing check-ins and updates to the treatment plan. Treatment is a fluid process. In some cases, patients will progress rapidly, making significant progress that was unexpected. In other cases, a patient may get hung up on a specific issue and take a bit longer than originally thought to achieve a treatment goal. In both cases, regular check-ins with a therapist at a one-on-one appointment that is scheduled into the week will enable patients to adjust and modify their treatment plan as needed.
  • Family Therapy: Inclusion of family in therapy. Addiction deeply affects the patient’s experience with family members, and the rifts that it causes as well as ongoing issues from childhood can be a constant source of pain – and a trigger for relapse – for the recovering addict. By incorporating family therapy, educational workshops, support groups for family members, and visitation options into the treatment plan, patients and their families can lay the groundwork for the healing that will inform a more positive relationship going forward.
  • Aftercare: Ongoing support after treatment through aftercare services. Whether the patient opts for the more comprehensive, inpatient sober living aftercare option or a carefully chosen schedule of outpatient aftercare services, it is important to make sure that recovery continues long after rehab is over. Patients can choose the option that is appropriate for their comfort level as they get closer to the end of treatment. If there is a question about what will best serve them, they can create an aftercare plan with the aid of their therapeutic team.
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Learn More About the Detox Process at Michael’s House

Here at Michael’s House in Palm Springs, California, we offer a wide range of detoxification options for patients, provided by staff members who specialize in the treatment of substance abuse. We collaborate with consulting physicians and follow up with comprehensive addiction treatment and a range of aftercare services as well – all chosen and incorporated into a unique treatment program to meet the needs of each individual patient.

Contact us today for more information on how we can help you or your loved one begin the healing process after drug and alcohol addiction.

1. http://drugabuse.gov/tools/FAQ.html#Anchor-What-16877
2. http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/TEDS2012N_Web.pdf
3. http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/sciofaddiction.pdf
4. http://www.michaelshouse.com/drug-rehab/
5. http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders
6. http://www.michaelshouse.com/opiate-detox/
7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK26177/#A85706
8. http://www.naabt.org/faq_answers.cfm?ID=23
9. Aetna.com
10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64115/
11. http://www.samhsa.gov/disorders/co-occurring
12. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/dualdiagnosis.html
13. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment
14. http://lcaccepted.com/
15. http://www.michaelshouse.com/treatment-program/

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