Many people who abuse drugs can’t simply stop taking them without any help, even if they want to. This is because of the physical dependence that forms with the abuse and the withdrawal that occurs when they stop using is almost always certain and can be extremely painful. To be successful, people who want to stop using drugs need to practice the best drug detox methods that are available through either inpatient or outpatient treatment. Let’s learn more about detox and the best drug detox practices.

What Is Drug Detox?

This is the first step in a total drug addiction inpatient or outpatient program. It involves maintaining physical and mental stability while the body rids itself of drug toxins and begins to heal itself. During this process, patients often go through very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The staff at a rehab program will monitor and manage these symptoms allowing for the already painful process to be more tolerable giving you a real chance at a long and lasting sobriety.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

The most common symptoms of withdrawals that individuals may experience during detox vary depending on the type of drugs, amounts and the length of time that they abused their drug of choice. Other factors that contribute to these unpleasant symptoms too.

  • Heroin Addiction – include bone and joint pain, increased pain sensitivity, gastrointestinal stress and muscle aches.
  • Prescription PainKiller Addiction – include flu-like symptoms lasting an average of 5 days (this is the same for heroin addiction too).
  • Benzodiazepines Addiction – anxiety and/or seizures lasting weeks or (in some cases) even months.
  • Cocaine – depression and restlessness lasting between 7 & 10 days.

The Best Drug Detox & Medically Assisted Detox

man searches for best drug detox

There are different ways to detox, but the best drug detox methods involve the help of medical professionals. Medical professionals recommend to go through detox at a medically managed drug detox center that offers an inpatient or outpatient addiction program.

Studies show that inpatient or residential programs are the most successful for treating drug addictions. This type of treatment ensures that patients get the medical care that they need 24 hours per day. It also has the lowest rate of relapse following full treatment that includes counseling and support. For the duration of inpatient treatment, patients live at the rehab center.

Fewer experts recommend outpatient programs because patients don’t receive the same 24-hour care as in inpatient programs. Rather than living at the rehab center, patients travel between it and home to receive treatment. However, outpatient programs can still be successful for people who are dedicated to recovery and have less severe addictions. Additionally, outpatient programs are a good option for individuals stepping down from an inpatient program.

Regardless of the detox method, the medical staff can prescribe medications to relieve withdrawal symptoms. There’s also a chance that they’ll prescribe medications for patients to continue taking afterward to prevent relapse. 

Some of the most common drugs prescribed for alcohol detox are listed below.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs that act as safe and effective commonly prescribed detox medications. In fact, benzos are the mainstay of inpatient treatment for alcohol withdrawal syndrome. A study by PMC shows that benzodiazepines can reduce the severity of symptoms and decrease the incidence of seizures and delirium tremens. Benzos relieve alcohol withdrawal symptoms by slowing down the central nervous system. Medications such as Valium and Librium are prescribed during detoxification for their tranquilizing and anticonvulsant effects. Sedation with benzos prevents agitation and will reduce the risk of seizures during detoxification. However, benzodiazepine use must be carefully monitored. These medications for detoxification are used only for the short-term because they themselves have a potential for abuse and the worst thing to happen while seeking treatment is to trade one bad vice for another..

Anticonvulsants

Anticonvulsants are prescribed as detox meds to reduce the complications of withdrawal from alcohol. Carbamazepine has been shown to ameliorate psychological distress, to help reduce anxiety and aggression, and decrease alcohol cravings. Doctors have found that patients treated with valproic acid have less severe symptoms during detoxification and fewer seizures.

Adrenergic Medications

Medications such as clonidine and propranolol may be prescribed along with benzodiazepines during medical drug detox for alcohol. These medications treat elevated blood pressure and fast pulse during detoxification. They are sometimes used in patients with less severe symptoms in the outpatient setting when benzodiazepines cannot be prescribed due to lack of monitoring.

Other Detox Medications

A number of other medications, such as barbiturates, baclofen, and sodium oxybate, are used in medically-assisted alcohol detoxification. Newer medications, such as ketamine, are used to treat severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms but is also highly addictive so is usually only prescribed during inpatient treatment. Dexmedetomidine is a medication that is used during detoxification in an emergency setup situation.

Some of the most common drugs prescribed for drug detox are listed below:

Methadone

Methadone is one of the most commonly prescribed heroin detox drugs. It is an opioid agonist that reduces cravings for the drug and relieves withdrawal symptoms in opiate addicts. It does not produce the same high as an opioid drug, but it stays in the body for a longer time and relieves cravings in combination with daily mental health treatment. In addition to its use as an opiate detoxification medication, it is used for long-term maintenance treatment of opioid addiction. However, prolonged use of methadone can lead to dependence, which is why this detox drug is closely monitored through licensed methadone inpatient and outpatient programs.

Buprenorphine (Subutex)

Buprenorphine is one of the best opiate drug detox medications used to shorten the length of the process. This medication can also be used for long-term maintenance. The combined form of buprenorphine with naloxone (Suboxone) helps prevent dependence on a drug or abused substance.

Naltrexone

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist medication that prevents neurotransmitter stimulation and blocks the euphoric effect of the drug, and thereby, the recovering addict’s ability to get high. This essentially decreases cravings for the drug and helps prevents relapse as part of the long-term outpatient treatment plan for opioid addiction. Naltrexone is a common detox drug that is prescribed to be taken orally daily or three times a week and is available under the brand names Depade and ReVia (pill form) or Vivitrol (injectable form). Naltrexone is prescribed after opioids have been completely flushed out of the system.

Adrenergic Drugs

Clonidine and propranolol are also used as detox drugs for opiates because they suppress the fight-or-flight response and reduce high blood pressure, agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, cramping, and sweating. Other detox drugs may be prescribed to help with specific problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, or insomnia.

Drugs Used for Detox from Stimulants

Stimulants are psychoactive drugs that increase brain activity and elevate mood, awareness, and alertness. Although stimulants like caffeine are widely used, some stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamines, are highly addictive and illegal. Prescription stimulants, including Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine, are also extensively abused. Recovering addicts may need to undergo medicine-assisted drug detox for stimulant dependence. Symptoms during stimulant drug detoxification can be both physical and psychological and include:

  • Jitteriness
  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Chills
  • Slowed speech
  • Slowed movements
  • Dulled senses
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Impaired memory
  • Unpleasant dreams

Suboxone

A gradual taper of stimulant drugs is associated with less severe symptoms. This detox drug is prescribed relief from stimulants that makes the process safe and more bearable. Suboxone is sometimes prescribed when tapering stimulant use.

Antidepressants

Depression related to withdrawal from a stimulant drug can be very severe, especially in recovering addicts with a history of underlying or pre-existing depression. Antidepressants, such as desipramine, may be prescribed as a medicine for detox to help alleviate this symptom.

Sedatives and Tranquilizers

Diazepam is used to manage mild to moderate symptoms during detoxification. Benzodiazepines are common detox drugs prescribed and  act as tranquilizers during cocaine and meth detox.

Anticonvulsant Medications

Topamax and Neurontin are useful in the initial stages of stimulant withdrawal to reduce cravings and prevent Adderall crash.

Other Opiate Detox Medications

Muscle relaxants such as baclofen reduce cravings. Provigil is a mild stimulant drug that may be prescribed to manage extreme lethargy and sleepiness during stimulant drug detox. Other medications may be used for specific symptoms such as nausea or headaches.

At-Home Detox Can Be Dangerous

Although you may prefer to detox in the comfort of your own home, at-home detox kits aren’t safe drug detox methods since the resources are limited compared to inpatient detox and treatment..

Using a drug detox kit isn’t safe because it can’t factor in the personal needs of each individual. In addition to drug addiction, a lot of detox patients also have a mental health disorder. Co-occurring disorders can cause psychological issues that a one-size-fits-all kit can’t address.

There’s also a higher risk of overdose if a patient relapse. Without medical staff present, this increases the possibility of dangerous complications and even death.

Drug Addiction Treatment At 1st Step Behavioral Health

Detox is only the first step to recovering from drug addiction. Patients can’t completely recover until they address the underlying cause of their addiction. This could be grief, a violent attack or some other major trauma that changed their lives. The medical professionals at 1st Step Behavioral Health can get to the bottom of each patient’s drug addiction through therapy.

At 1st Step Behavioral Health, each client has a primary care therapist. There’s also a nurse practitioner at the facility five days a week. Together, the staff focuses on providing a caring environment that encourages recovery. Some techniques used include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Art therapy
  • Holistic pain management

Take the first step toward a better life by enrolling in a drug addiction treatment program. You can regain control of your life with the help of experienced medical professionals at a rehab center. Contact 1st Step Behavioral Health at 866-319-6123 to begin your journey.

We’d love to hear from you! Contact one of our caring addiction professionals today.

References:

 https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments

 https://addictionresource.com/drug-detox/drug-detox-medications/

About the Author: Brittany Polansky

Brittany PolanskyBrittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is a Primary Clinician at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.