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Detox Options

Detoxification and the Dangers of Withdrawal Symptoms

DetoxAddiction alters the way normal body processes are carried out. Unfortunately, over time, the body recognizes these physiologic changes as the new norm and subsequently adapts to it. The more the body adapts, the greater is the need for addicting substances to elicit the same desired response. The sad thing is that once the addicting substance is removed, the body goes into a repair mode. During this process of repairing itself, withdrawal symptoms develop. In some cases where the addiction is mild and often depending on the type of the addicting substance, the withdrawal symptoms can also be mild. These can include irritability, nausea and vomiting, muscle fatigue, headaches, and loss of appetite.

However, there are instances when the addiction is so severe that the resulting withdrawal symptoms also become life threatening. Examples of these include cardiac arrhythmias, fluid and electrolyte imbalances, respiratory depression, seizures, coma, and even death. Among the more serious psychiatric mental health manifestations of acute withdrawal include hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, and gross distortions of reality that experts may already suggest borderline schizophrenia.

Detox Options

The ramifications of acute withdrawal symptoms are great such that detoxification is a very complicated and very closely monitored process. Depending on the severity and type of the addiction, detox treatments can typically fall under two major categories: medically managed and medically assisted detox treatments. In the level of their acuteness, these can be referred to as either acute detox programs or sub-acute detox treatments, respectively.

  • Medically managed detox treatments are indicated for moderate to serious addictions where the risk of developing serious to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms is unusually high. In this type of detox, the individual is carefully monitored by a team of healthcare professionals led by a medical doctor and is often carried out in an acute care setting preferably in a hospital.
  • Medically assisted detox treatments are for those whose addictions are not severe and do not pose a threat to the safety of the individual. Monitoring is still implemented but is carried out by facility personnel. To aid the individual in the detox process, certain medications are administered in order to help alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with the addicting substance. These types of detox treatments are almost always referred to as sub-acute detox programs simply because they do not pose an immediate threat to the individual. Additionally, these are carried out in residential and even outpatient facilities but not in a hospital inpatient center.

Whether it is medically managed or medically assisted detox, one very important aspect of the detox program is nutritionally assisted detox. Addiction suppresses the reward center in the brain for hunger, which is a more scientific way of saying it suppresses appetite. Nutrients are thus, not absorbed by the body leading to severe nutritional deficiencies. A nutritionally assisted detox is an important adjunct to any type of detox treatments by providing the body with the necessary nutrients including vitamins and minerals that it needs to help it repair its cells and tissues. This greatly helps the individual as he goes through the process of withdrawal.

Detoxification is the crucial first step in the addiction treatment process. Addicting substances such as illicit drugs and alcohol have altered the brain’s natural chemistry and its normal functioning is also altered. Because of the alteration in the brain’s function and since the brain and the spinal cord technically controls everything inside the body, physiologic changes also occur all throughout the body.

Drug Detox

Drug detoxification warrants the careful monitoring of the effects of drugs on the body. Standard medication protocols such as naloxone should be administered to help reverse the effects of opioids and other narcotic agents. Other medications can be used to help alleviate the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Of particular importance is the provision of nutritional support during the detox process to help the individual better manage withdrawal symptoms.

Sub-Acute Detox

In cases where the addiction is not severe and will only require supportive care, sub-acute detox treatments are recommended. These comprise both nutritional and psychosocial support to the individual in order to provide help to get through the whole detox treatment with or without the need for medications. In most cases, this is preferred as the body is able to get rid of the addicting substance naturally.

Alcohol Detox

One of the major dangers of alcohol addiction is the severe electrolyte deficiency that will have developed which can lead to hallucinations, depression, and delirium tremens. In such cases where delirium tremens is imminent, detox treatment professionals must be able to provide definitive care that will avert any of the potentially lethal consequences of this withdrawal symptom. Nutritionally assisted detox in conjunction with alcohol detox programs is essential especially in the provision of thiamine and folate, which have become severely depleted in alcohol addiction states.


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