Drug Detox

Why do I need inpatient drug detox?

If you have been using a drug for any length of time, you are likely to have developed some physical and/or psychological dependencies on it. In other words, you feel as if you need the drug in order to survive and function.

Since the effects of most drugs lessen over time, drug users have to take more in order to achieve the desired effects. Their bodies become used to it, and go into revolt when they try to stop. The resulting withdrawal symptoms are so uncomfortable – and often frightening – that the individual seeks out more of the drug just to get away from the withdrawal symptoms. Many studies have shown that medically supervised detox can drastically reduce the risk of short-term relapse.

Inpatient drug detox has the following advantages:

  • You are watched round the clock by medical professionals who can act immediately if you experience complications during your detox
  • You are in a supportive setting in which you do not have access to the substance you are addicted to
  • Your detox program is customised for you, with consideration for your age, state of health, the drugs you have been using, the length of your addiction and other relevant factors
  • As you go through the detox process, your supervising doctor can help you identify inpatient rehab programs that are suited to your needs and circumstances

What withdrawal symptoms will I experience?

The withdrawal symptoms and their severity depend on a number of factors, including the following:

  • Physical factors: Your age and general state of health can affect how you experience withdrawal. Symptoms can be more intense if you have physical or mental health conditions, or if you are taking prescription medication for legitimate reasons.
  • The drugs used: Withdrawal symptoms vary from one drug to the next. Many people are addicted to more than one substance, and this can create a unique set of withdrawal symptoms.
  • The length of the addiction: People who have been using a substance for a long time tend to experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms are further intensified if higher doses are used.

Withdrawal symptoms that are common to many drugs include fever, sweating, insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, diarrhea or constipation, and agitation. While these symptoms are more uncomfortable than anything else, some more serious effects can occur. These include the following:

  • Violence: Some drugs can increase aggression levels, to the point where the patient becomes a danger to other people. This is especially serious in the case of drugs that result in perceptions of superior physical strength.
  • Psychosis: Although this is more common in cases where there is a coexisting mental health condition such as schizophrenia, psychosis can be an effect of some drugs. The patient may experience auditory and visual hallucinations, become paranoid, and act in an unpredictable manner.
  • Injury and/or self-harm: Some drugs result in patients hurting themselves, either deliberately or accidentally. When there is a perception of increased strength, many people will take risks that they wouldn’t take otherwise. This increases their likelihood of putting themselves in dangerous situations.
  • Suicidal thoughts: Drug use often comes with feelings of paranoia, hopelessness and low self-esteem. People with addictions are at a significantly higher risk of suicide than the general population.

How does drug detox work?

Your drug detox program is customised according to your unique situation. The approach used varies according to the individual, the drug and other factors. Some of the approaches that might be considered are as follows:

  • Cold turkey detox: All uses of the drug are stopped, and the patient experiences the full force of the withdrawal symptoms, without any use of medication. Medical supervision is provided in case an emergency arises.
  • Short-term medicated detox: The patient stops using the drug, but may be provided with non-addictive medication to aid with some of the side effects. For example, those suffering from insomnia may be given some sleep medication.
  • Long-term medicated detox: Use of the substance may be gradually reduced, or replaced with long-term medication, to avoid severe and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Over time, the dosages are reduced until the patient is drug-free. Medications that are commonly used include methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone.

How long does it take?

As with everything else, the duration of detox depends on the drug and the individual. The only hard and fast rule is that detox last until all symptoms have gone away and the patient is physically and mentally prepared for the next steps of rehab. For some drugs, detox can be completed in a week or two. For others, the patient needs medical care and supervision for several weeks.

For more information about how you or a loved one can benefit from drug detox, call us today.

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