What is Medical Detoxification?

Medical detoxification is the first step in addiction treatment for clients who require medication-assisted therapy for substance abuse. As a precursor to effective psychotherapeutic treatment, medical detox addresses and mitigates the physical withdrawal symptoms that clients may face, such as seizures, hallucinations, delirium, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, depression, strokes and heart attacks. The goal of this phase is returning the guests body to its prior state of being before being physically addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Medical Detoxification Process at Laguna Shores Recovery

Our professional staff will determine the unique type of detoxification necessary for each individual. There are many different factors that determine the type of detox that is necessary, for instance, the type of drugs abused, history of drug use, and how frequently it was used. Our detox program is designed to aid the body in getting rid of harmful and dangerous toxins accumulated from drug and alcohol abuse. During our detox retreat in Southern California, a doctor may administer medications to control symptoms. Detox at our facility is supervised by a 24 hour licensed clinical team that oversees the individual’s physical needs and safety. We will ensure that each individual receives the best and most comfortable detox available.

Laguna Shores Recovery utilizes non-narcotic synthetic methods to assist individuals in overcoming their cravings for alcohol and drugs. While methadone is part of the standard treatment program in most drug rehabilitation centers, we do not use it because of the risks involved with its highly addictive pharmacological properties. Instead of methadone, we use Suboxone and Ativan.

Detox is only the first step in overcoming dependence. After a clinically managed detox, the individual is ready to embark on long-term recovery. Laguna Shores Recovery will assist each individual in finding the right treatments for long term recovery.

We know what it feels like to have a new chance at life.

We want you to feel that, too.

What is Medical Detox?

Medical detox can be the launch pad of the rehabilitation process if you wish to recover from addiction. Medical detox typically includes medical care accompanied by supporting therapy and education, such as behavioral therapy, medication, and follow-through support.

The medical detox process involves flushing the toxins out of your bloodstream. The idea is to control your symptoms of drug withdrawal when you start your recovery. This allows you to recover slowly to reduce your withdrawal symptoms.

Detox is important because, without proper supervision, your drug withdrawal symptoms can be extremely painful experiences, including the possibility of death. The drugs you used can harm vital organs such as the heart, liver, and brain. That’s why medical detox centers and addiction rehabilitation centers offer a safe environment in which health professionals administer medications and offer therapy, and provide education to smooth the withdrawal process as well as safely manage its side effects.

Statistics

Pictured Above

  • According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million American adults (aged 12 and older) battled a substance use disorder in 2017.1
  • About 38% of adults in 2017 battled an illicit drug use disorder.2
  • In 2017, an estimated 20.7 million people, age 12 and older, needed treatment for a substance use disorder. Only 4 million people received treatment or about 19% of those who needed it.3
  • Drug abuse and addiction cost American society more than $740 billion annually in lost workplace productivity, healthcare expenses, and crime-related costs.5
  • Over half of all American adults have a family history of problem drinking or alcohol addiction.6
  • 40% of all hospital beds in the United States are used to treat conditions related to alcohol consumption.7
  • The relapse rate for substance use disorders is estimated to be between 40% and 60%. This rate is similar to rates of relapse for other chronic diseases such as hypertension or asthma.8
  • Addiction is considered a highly treatable disease, and recovery is attainable. About 10% of American adults who are at least 18 years old say they are in recovery from an alcohol or drug abuse issue.9

Types of Medical Detox Treatments

There are different approaches to rid the body of the drugs you used. These include the social model, ultra-rapid medical detox, home detox kits, and medical detox.

The Social Model

The social model of detox does not involve the use of medication or medical care. It relies only on providing emotional care in a supportive environment so that patients can safely survive the withdrawal phases.

Ultra-Rapid Detox

Ultra-Rapid Detox concept was developed at the start of the 1990s. Ultra-rapid medical detox techniques were targeted at reducing the withdrawal symptoms in people hooked on addictive substances such as heroin or other opioids. However, the results of numerous studies indicate that not only does ultra-rapid medical detox not reduce withdrawal pains but it can also lead to other health risks in patients.

Ultra-rapid medical detox basically involves keeping patients under sedation and administering a medication that induces rapid withdrawal. The main idea was that patients would be sleeping their way through the worst parts of the withdrawal process.

However, studies observed that when ultra-rapid medical detox patients woke up after treatment, the withdrawal symptoms they experienced were similar to those of patients who hadn’t received the treatment. The method did not hasten the withdrawal process. Patients suffering pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or even HIV/AIDS or co-occurring mental health disorders faced a higher risk of complications.

Home Drug Detox Kits

Home Drug Detox Kits are convenient packages of ingredients that supposedly help the person cope with withdrawal symptoms without medical support or supervision. The biggest demand for drug detox kits comes from individuals trying to pass drug tests for employment, probation, or other requirements. They’re usually trying to beat a urine test, but there are also drug detox hair shampoos supposedly designed to beat hair tests.

The most popular home detox options are detox drinks and pills that are made with vitamin C, lecithin, niacin, vinegar and sundry other herbs. There is no evidence that these home detox products works.

Medical Detox

Medical detox is the most popular approach among health care professionals and experts. The medical detox model incorporates nursing and care, medication and physician-led supervision throughout the medical detox process.

The building blocks of an effective medical detox program are:

Detox is one stage in a continuing series of care for addiction-withdrawal.

The medical detox process comprises three distinct phases - evaluation, stabilization, and preparation for therapy.

Patients are always expected to participate in the entire medical detox process.

Detox plans must be custom made for each patient's condition and addiction.

Every patient must be referred to therapy following medical detox.

The complete range of medical detox services must qualify for insurance coverage plans.

Detox services must be capable of catering to culturally diverse patients.

It is possible to measure the success of medical detox by the level of patient-participation and compliance with future treatment.

Quite a few addiction treatment facilities rely upon a combination of medical and social care to help their patients recover. Patients at such facilities can go to support group meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous even while they are getting medical treatment.

What Substances Require Medical Detox?

Any person who uses alcohol or drugs can become addicted. Addiction can lead to tolerance, where the person must continue to use more of the drug to feel its effects. Addiction can also lead to painful withdrawals.

Here’s a list of addictive substances and drugs that qualify for medical detox care:

Alcohol

Withdrawal symptoms for alcohol are listed among the most dangerous, and can even become life-threatening in extreme cases.

Benzodiazepines

Abruptly quitting the use of certain benzodiazepines can be life-threatening without medical supervision.

Cocaine/Methamphetamine

People with stimulant addictions should get medical detox to handle the severe mood imbalances that start during the first phases of abstinence.

Prescription Stimulants and Pills

Prescribed opiates can cause withdrawal symptoms that are similar to those caused by heroin.

Heroin

All opiate detoxification usually requires medical management to cope with the withdrawal pains, including detox from heroin.

Other Drugs That Could Require Medical Detox

Club drugs, marijuana, inhalants, and other drugs are also addictive and may require a medical detox as well.

Attempting recovery from addiction without professional support or intervention can turn out to be an extremely tough. On the other hand, medical detox with trained and experienced health care professionals raises the odds of recovery and provides the safety from relapse triggers in the outside world. That’s why trying out self-help detox programs or untested products should be avoided.

What is the Medical Detox Process?

Medical detox is comprised of three steps – evaluation of the patient, stabilization of symptoms, and preparing the patient for actual treatment. Apart from the actual medical detox process, patients are also exposed to other helpful services like education, therapy sessions and support group meetings.

Detox Part I: Evaluation

This is the preliminary stage of the medical detox program where your condition is evaluated using a questionnaire, a thorough physical examination, and a series of blood tests and screenings to diagnose pre-existing medical conditions or mental health disorders. With the results of these tests, therapists will be able to evaluate your state of mind accurately and learn if your body can withstand the effects of withdrawal during the medical detox process. Based on the evaluation outcomes, a physician will then conceive an appropriate treatment plan that is tailored for effective and painless medical detox.

Detox Part II: Stabilization

Stabilization is the second step in the journey to recovery from drug abuse. Here, qualified professionals help you to quit using drugs, under medical supervision, to get sober while remaining medically stable. In this stage of the medical detox process, medications are usually administered to reduce your withdrawal symptoms. The duration and intensity of withdrawal and symptoms vary according to factors such as the severity and type of addiction. The stabilization phase usually ranges from one to three weeks.

Detox Part III: Preparation

The last stage of the medical detox program prepares you for support treatments after the actual detox stage is completed. You might not be prepared to cope up with the psychological challenges that arise after detox. In this stage of the medical detox program, health professionals educate you about the necessity of undergoing therapy to improve their recovery success rates.

Withdrawal Symptoms During Medical Detoxification

Withdrawal symptoms vary widely. Symptoms may begin as soon as six hours after the last time the person used, and they may last as long as 10 days to a few weeks. Alcohol and drugs have many withdrawal symptoms in common, which may include:

  • Nightmares
  • General physical and emotional discomfort
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Runny nose
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Mental confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Body tremors and shaking

How Long Can Medical Detox Take?

The length of medical detox programs varies from person to person because many factors are at play during the treatment. Major factors that decide the duration of medical detox treatment include:

  • The specific type or types of drug addiction involved
  • The duration or period of addiction
  • The presence or absence of co-occurring disorders
  • Personal health conditions
  • Patient's family history
  • Patient's age
  • Patient's weight

The first few days or weeks of the detox program are usually the period when patients experience the withdrawal pangs most intensely. The initial withdrawal symptoms range from diarrhea, vomiting, muscle pains, high temperature, and tremors. Fortunately, medications can easily control most of the physical side effects that detox causes.

In contrast, the psychological side effects of withdrawal are liable to linger over weeks or even months. Psychological symptoms include sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression. Health professionals prefer to help patients cope with the psychological side effects using a combination of medication and therapy.

What Medications Are Used in Medical Detox?

The primary aim of medication-assisted treatment is to cleanse the body of dangerous substances while ensuring patient-comfort during the medical detox process. Physicians and trained support staff, including nurses and behavioral health experts, are closely involved in all aspects of the process.

Physical Side Effects

Most of the medications used in medical detox are meant for treating withdrawal-associated side effects such as headache, high temperature, nausea, seizures, and tremors. Currently, there are no medications available to help get the drugs out of your system. However, some medications do have the capability to reduce cravings significantly.

Mental Side Effects

Doctors generally prescribe benzodiazepines to reduce symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders, and other withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines are the first choice of physicians treating patients for alcohol-withdrawal. Such medications are usually administered at inpatient facilities because of the possibility of misuse by outpatients.

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines used during medical detox include:

  • Chlordiazepoxide
  • Diazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Oxazepam
  • Clonazepam

Doctors prefer prescribing long-acting benzodiazepines like Valium for alcohol detox cases. However, for patients suffering from liver problems, doctors prescribe short-acting drugs such as Ativan.

Benzodiazepines are also likely to be used for reducing anxiety during hallucinations induced by hallucinogens, for example, LSD. Once the patient’s condition stabilizes, the benzodiazepine dosage is tapered-off over several days. This is because ceasing a high dosage of benzodiazepines suddenly can result in life-threatening side effects.

What to Expect During Medical Detox?

Evaluation

The medical detox process begins with an evaluation or assessment. Medically qualified professionals will delve into your medical history, substance abuse history and the intensity of your dependence. You are also screened for co-occurring mental health disorders, infectious diseases, and nutrition deficiencies. Some facilities also look for skin conditions, oral health problems, tuberculosis, and even signs of physical trauma.

Recovery Plan

After obtaining a clear understanding of your physical and mental well-being, a trained addiction specialist will work out a recovery plan that is effective and as painless as possible. Usually, at an inpatient facility, you are assigned a separate room that provides round-the-clock monitoring in the first week. Similarly, when it comes to medical detox programs at outpatient facilities, therapists will create a recovery plan and schedule appointments for you.

Even with the presence and support of professional therapists and physicians, detox can still turn out to be an agonizing journey back to normalcy for you. The good news is that once you complete the medical detox program, you will find yourself healthier and able to focus on preventing relapse.

Where Can You Find Medical Detox Services?

Detox centers are specialized facilities for carefully helping the patients through the primary phase of the recovery process. The centers offer a holistic solution in the form of comprehensive evaluations, assistance to patients for overcoming their cravings, treatment of side effects associated with physical withdrawal, and orienting patients for follow up therapies.

Centers offer patients a choice of acute or short-term therapy. Unlike drug rehab facilities, medical detox centers do not offer comprehensive treatment plans. Some centers even provide referral services for patients to pursue further treatment, but it is the patient’s responsibility to get to treatment after medical detox.

Facilities That Offer Medical Detox Programs:

Inpatient Rehab Facilities

Inpatient facilities, also known as residential rehab facilities, offer patients a safe environment for medical detox or withdrawal processes. Here, patients can obtain the benefits of a comprehensive and long-term treatment plan, which includes follow up therapy too.

Outpatient Rehab Facilities

Outpatient facilities, also known as partial hospitalization rehab facilities, offer patients with a high level of care, but there are no facilities available for patients to reside on the campus itself. Patients can access a variety of therapies and post-detox support.

Hospitals

Many hospitals provide medical detox. Depending upon size and scale of operations, such hospitals may offer medical detox services either on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

Physician’s Office

Some physicians get the necessary qualifications to aid patients with mild cases of addiction.

Home Health Care Agency

Home health care agencies provide post-detox care and counseling services for patients in their homes. Nurses belonging to a home health care agency regularly visit patients’ homes to monitor their health, prescribed medications, and follow up activities are followed.

Choosing a Medical Detox Center

What Does the Medical Detox Center Treat?

Detox centers usually specialize in one kind of withdrawal treatment. While some centers specialize in alcohol detox, others treat drug addictions. Similarly, there are medical detox centers that specialize in treating specific age groups or gender groups. Despite all these categorizations, some common features characterize the good-quality medical detox treatment centers from the rest.

Inpatient v. Outpatient Medical Detox Facilities

Before opting for a center, you need to decide if you are a suitable candidate for inpatient or outpatient medical detox. While a physician or therapist is better placed to guide you on your choices, you can get some clarity with the following pointers:

Outpatient medical detox involves fixing regular appointments for check-ups and receiving medications from nurses or staff members. This kind of arrangement gives patients more freedom to attend to their daily routines. However, the possible temptations that are likely to crop up in such a scenario make it a bit of a risky proposition, especially for those who are suffering from severe substance or alcohol abuse.

Inpatient medical detox provides patients with the option of a safe environment and round-the-clock supervision. This kind of arrangement is more structured and hence more stable in comparison to outpatient medical detox.

Success Rate

This is one factor that patients should scrutinize when evaluating a possible medical detox center. The best centers usually advertise their high success rates. Federal agencies also evaluate medical detox facilities for factors like its ability to orient their patients for further treatment and the frequency with which patients continue treatment.

Reviews and Reputation

Looking up online reviews of the facility is a simple way to obtain general feedback on the reputation of a medical detox center. Apart from online reviews, feedback from people who used the center is another way to check out whether the facility is ideal for you. Your family physician can provide you with information. Also, talking to your local support group is another good way to get references.


Resources

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Trends & Statistics.
  5. Facing Addiction with NCADD. Facts About Alcohol.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Treatment and Recovery.
  9. New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. (2012). Survey: Ten Percent of American Adults Report Being in Recovery from Substance Abuse or Addiction. 

Detox: Beginning the Recovery Journey

Though there are several steps in finding full recovery from drug and alcohol addiction none is more important than this step of treatment. This is the beginning of the journey of the guest and a vital step in seeing the individual get the opportunity to accept his/her treatment. If this step is not taken fully and safely then the guest never gets the opportunity to be fully clean (or clear) to realize His/Her treatment.

Laguna Shores is committed to helping those under our care to detox completely so that they can be fully present for the recovery process to begin and endure.