This isn't the case in every drug rehabilitation center, however. There are those that don't offer this service. To this day, many clinics don't see it as a necessary form of treatment. Even so, detoxifying the body from drugs is a critical step in the recovery process. It offers a number of different benefits, including relief from withdrawal symptoms. Drug detox also helps to create a safer recovery experience for the patient.
One such scene is the disturbing drug withdrawal segment from Trainspotting.
"I'm in the junkie limbo at the moment. Too ill to sleep, too tired to stay awake. But the sickness is on its way. Sweat, chills, nausea, pain, and craving. Need, like nothing else I've ever known, will soon take hold of me. It's on its way."
This line by the film's main character Renton well represents the dread that is associated with drug withdrawal. It is this dread of imminent withdrawal, almost as much as the symptoms of withdrawal, that can prevent you from getting clean even when you know you should. Drug withdrawal will never be pleasant. It will never be easy. But a well-supervised detox treatment plan can ease the process and make it just bearable enough that you can finally come out of the darkness of withdrawal into a brighter, healthier journey to recovery.
For those who are new to addiction recovery, they often wonder, what is drug detox, and why is it necessary? Drug detox is the process of eliminating substances from the body after drug use. It also involves relieving withdrawal symptoms and providing for a safer recovery. By itself, drug detox is not an effective way to recover from an addiction. However, when it is used correctly, it can greatly improve the overall outcome.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services acknowledges the importance of drug detox. It is a vital part of recovery. They indicate that there should be three steps taken when a patient presents for detox services. These include:
There are several different methods that are used during the drug detoxification process. The appropriate methods are chosen for each patient, based on a number of factors. The types of drugs they have been using and how long they have been using all play a role.
In order to break an addiction, overcoming the physical component of it is key. Physical dependence on drugs can be very powerful. The right detox process can make recovery so much easier. However, not everyone wants to enter a drug detox center; at least not at first. It is becoming increasingly common for people to want to attempt an at-home drug detox first. If that doesn't work for them, they will then consider professional detoxification.
For those that don't, these individuals can still benefit. Still, for those who want to try an at-home detox first, there are several things that should be considered. Among these are:
The biggest risk involved with an at-home detox is the risk of relapsing. Even though there are some successful cases, most people are not successful with this method. The risk of relapsing is just far too great.
For someone who attempts an at-home detox, they are not always prepared for the withdrawal symptoms that occur. This individual may have had some experience with withdrawal, but they still don't understand the scope of it. They may think that they've experienced it before when they ran out of drugs. Unfortunately, these symptoms were probably relatively mild. This gives a poor perception of what withdrawal truly is.
For someone who relapses back into drug use, there is always an increased risk of overdosing. Overdosing often occurs when someone stops using drugs and then goes back to using the regular dosage. During the quit period, tolerance levels can change rapidly. If the usual dosage of drugs is used, the body can quickly go into shock. Unless medical help is obtained immediately, the overdose can be fatal.
Every possible preparation should be made before attempting an at-home detox. This is something people frequently fail to do, which could lead to relapses. During this type of detoxification, the addict is likely to feel at his or her worst. Therefore, it's important to prepare for the worst.
Some of the things that should be done in preparation include:
It is a proven fact that drug detox goes more smoothly when the body has the right fuel. There are a number of different types of foods that can help the detoxification process along. These foods include:
People who attempt an at-home detox need to be sure they're getting the right vitamins and minerals. A multi-vitamin is highly recommended for this purpose. Also, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is helpful. Juicing aids in getting the most vitamins from foods in the shortest period of time. Choosing organically grown food is the best option because pesticides can prevent nutrient absorption.
For someone who has a pre-existing medical condition, an at-home detox can be particularly dangerous. It is so important to consult a doctor before attempting this type of drug cessation. More often than not, physicians will recommend a professional detox. That way, doctors and other medical professionals will be available to assist in the event of a complication.
Some medical conditions that might make at-home drug detox dangerous include:
Eating the right food will help to put good nutrients and vitamins into the body during drug detox. However, there should be just as much energy spent on getting the toxins out. Many of them will be eliminated through the body's waste. However, physical exercise should also be an important component.
Sweating causes toxins to be removed through the pores in the skin. The skin is the body's largest organ. It is very good at ridding the body of toxins. There are a number of different exercises that will be beneficial.
Exercise also has other benefits. It produces endorphins in the brain. These “feel-good” chemicals help addicts stay in better spirits during the detox process.
For most people who are stopping their use of drugs, withdrawal symptoms are a real concern for them. Though they might not understand how severe they can be, these symptoms are worrisome. In fact, they are the main reason why most people continue to use.
The withdrawal symptoms that are experienced during drug detox happen in stages. Regardless of what type of drug is being detoxed from, it's important to understand each of the stages.
The acute withdrawal stage is the first stage of drug withdrawal. It generally lasts for about two weeks, and it includes both physical and psychological symptoms.
The physical symptoms of acute withdrawal include:
The psychological symptoms that often accompany acute withdrawal include:
For many people, this is the stage when they give up and go back to using. These symptoms are very difficult to handle. Any of them can begin to appear after the drug starts to leave the system. This can happen between six and twenty-four hours, depending on the drug.
During the post-acute withdrawal stage, many of the physical symptoms of withdrawal start to decrease. However, for many, the psychological symptoms only increase in severity. There may even be new symptoms that begin to emerge during this time. The symptoms of PAWS can last for several months after a drug has been stopped. Some people are fortunate enough to have the last for only a few weeks. In contrast, there are others for whom PAWS lasts for a year or longer.
PAWS symptoms are usually psychological in nature. Because of this, they affect mood, stress levels and sleeping patterns. Everyone is different, and so, the symptoms they experience will be different too. The type of symptoms someone may experience can be related to the drug they were using. The frequency of drug use and the amount of drugs used also play a role.
The symptoms of PAWS include:
These and any other symptoms that occur may come and go. It is not uncommon for some people to experience rebound withdrawal symptoms. These can even occur years after a drug has been stopped.
There are a number of different drugs that can result in PAWS. However, it is important to note that this list may not be complete. Any drug that is taken in high doses for a long period of time can produce PAWS.
The following drugs are typically associated with post-acute withdrawal syndrome:
PAWS can definitely be a challenge, even to someone who is committed to remaining drug-free. There are a number of different types of treatment that have been able to offer relief.
Psychotherapy is among the most important forms of treatment patients should invest in. Therapists are able to utilize many different forms of therapy that can help with symptoms. Also, group counseling and therapy is important as well. Both of these work together to help people manage their symptoms more successfully.
There are also some medications that may be given to help with symptoms. Doctors may prescribe a number of different drugs to counteract the worst symptoms of PAWS. Acamprosate is a drug that has been found to be quite effective in some people.
Although post-acute withdrawal syndrome can be challenging, there are many people who have successfully gone through it. These individuals can attest to the fact that it's worth it. With the right kind of treatment, it's possible to overcome this challenge and remain in recovery.
One of the most common questions we hear is "How long does heroin stay in your system?" or "How long do drugs stay in your system?"
Why do people ask this question? Usually it's because they are trying to avoid failing an obligatory drug test. First, it's important to mention that most obligatory drug tests are built into sobriety and drug court programs to discourage addictive behaviors. If you're trying to "trick" the drug testing system, you are doing nothing at all to help yourself or your health.
With that being said, it is good to understand how half-lives work in different substances and how long those substances actually remain in your body.
The half-life of a drug is the amount of time it takes for the concentration of the drug in your bloodstream to diminish to 50%. After four half-lives have passed, you will no longer feel the full effects of that substance, but that doesn't mean it's out of your system. For example, this is the half-life of several major drug categories:
However, these drugs will stay in the bloodstream for:
And they can be detected in the urine for:
Of course, a hair test will be able to detect any of these substances for weeks or even months after the fact. As you can see, a short half-life does not necessarily indicate that a drug will leave your system right away. It takes days or weeks for most substances to completely flush out of the urine, meaning that regular drug abuse will almost certainly cause you to fail a drug test.
Unfortunately, the time tables shown above do not reflect drug withdrawal timelines. Despite a short half-life or how fast a substance leaves your bloodstream, drug withdrawal symptoms will usually last between five days and two weeks, sometimes even longer. Below are some drug withdrawal timelines for common substances.
First Stage: 12 Hours - 2 Days
Second Stage: 2 Days - 7 Days
Stimulants include a wide range of drugs known as "uppers" or "speed", including cocaine, ecstasy, and prescription stimulants like Adderall. Withdrawal for this type of drug will resemble the following timeline:
First Stage: 4 Hours - 3 Days
Second Stage: 4 Days - 7 Days
Third Stage: 2 Weeks - 4 Weeks
After the initial week, withdrawal symptoms will mostly decline, but some mental and emotional side effects like anger, mood swings, and depression could last for several weeks more.
Officially, meth is also in the stimulant category like those substances named above, but the extremely toxic composition of meth changes the withdrawal process a bit.
First Stage: 1 Day - 3 Days
Second Stage: 4 Days - 7 Days
Hallucinogens do not usually cause dependence, but certain substances like ketamine or PCP can cause addiction.
First Stage: 1 Day - 3 Days
Second Stage: 4 Days - 14 Days
The symptoms will remain the same but decline slowly for about 14 days after the first stage of withdrawal is completed.
Benzo withdrawal is particularly long-lasting and can go on from 7 to 30 days.
First Stage: 1 Day - 2 Days
Second Stage: 2 Days - 6 Days
Third Stage: 6 Days - 15 Days+
This phase is known as late withdrawal and, although most of the severe physical symptoms have passed, some emotional and mental symptoms could continue for weeks as the brain works to restore a healthy chemical balance.
While there are many different medications that can be used to soothe certain symptoms of drug withdrawal, a few powerful medications can be used to greatly reduce withdrawal symptoms as a whole or to prevent relapse. Here's some additional information about these prescriptions:
Methadone is certainly the most well-known of meds that are used for opioid replacement therapy (ORT). This is a synthetic opioid that, if used as directed, does not create as much of a euphoric high as other opioids do. Since it fulfills the brain's cravings for opioids, methadone can soothe most opioid withdrawal symptoms or prevent them altogether.
Naltrexone blocks the user's ability to get high from opioids. Since it keeps people from feeling any of the effects of the drugs, it trains the brain to stop associating opioids with pleasure. Naltrexone does not soothe withdrawal symptoms, but it can greatly reduce cravings over time.
Narcan is made up of naloxone. Like naltrexone, naloxone blocks a user's ability to feel any high from opioids. It can also be used to reverse an opioid overdose if administered quickly after the overdose occurs.
This medication is made up of two substances - buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a synthetic opioid that binds to opioid receptors and soothes cravings but does not give the user euphoria. Naloxone blocks the effects of opioids and may produce an unpleasant reaction if the user tries to abuse Suboxone or mix other opioids with the medication. Together, the two substances can effectively prevent withdrawal symptoms and cravings both.
Medications used in ORT, like methadone and Suboxone, present their own risk of dependence. If taken for long periods of time or abused, prescriptions like these can be very addictive in and of themselves. To prevent long-term addiction to ORT meds, it is necessary to taper off the dose of these medications slowly.
Tapering can be a tricky process because if a drug is tapered too quickly, the patient may suffer withdrawal symptoms needlessly; but if the meds are tapered too slowly, a strong dependence is more likely to form. In order to taper off of any drug or medication safely, it is recommended to do so under the supervision of a doctor with a specialty in addiction treatment. A doctor can help the patient to monitor side effects and withdrawal symptoms while undergoing a tapering maintenance program in the safest, most comfortable way possible.
For example, a steady tapering maintenance plan for Suboxone would involve reducing the dose of Suboxone by 25% every 10 days. In this way, the body may experience some mild withdrawal symptoms after each dose reduction but has enough time to recover before the next reduction. This makes the process less painful, lowering the chances of relapse. This tapering maintenance plan would go something like this:
Start: 20mg, Day 10: 15mg, Day 20: 10mg, Day 30: 5mg, Day 40: 0.5mg
After taking 0.5mg of Suboxone for several days, the medication can be dropped completely with very few withdrawal side effects.
For patients who do not wish to transition to ORT but prefer to taper off of opioids directly, another tapering schedule will be in order. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends an opioid dose reduction of 10% every week until you can stop taking the drugs altogether. If the withdrawal symptoms are unbearable, they recommend trying a reduction of 10% every month instead.
The drug court system was implemented in the 1990s to help people with substance use disorders stay out of jail in order to go to free drug rehab centers instead.
The system assigns a team of caseworkers to assess the behaviors and offenses of the defendant. If it is determined that addiction caused or influenced their offenses, the court can mandate an obligatory stay in a professional detox or residential rehab facility. Sometimes drug court-ordered drug detox and rehab programs provide much-needed treatment that many addicts would not otherwise receive.
Whether it's court-ordered or voluntary, drug detox is only the first step in a long recovery journey. That's because drug detox only helps your body to eliminate a physical dependence to drugs; but addiction goes much deeper than the physical.
Drug rehabilitation should be the immediate next step after any drug detox program. Rehab will help you to identify the psychological and behavioral factors that contribute to addiction and address them head-on. Rehab centers will also provide you with tools to use in everyday life to combat future trials with addiction, such as relapse prevention techniques and coping mechanisms for cravings. These are some of the services and treatments provided by a non 12-step rehab center:
Through a combination of the therapy, treatments, and counseling described above, you will become better prepared - mentally, emotionally, and physically - to begin a healthy and successful life in recovery.
Medical drug detox is never to be considered a standalone treatment. During the process, the patient should be encouraged to seek drug rehab afterwards. Treatment takes place in an acute care setting, and can last for as long as the patient needs it.
This is a process that is overseen by medical professionals – doctors and nurses. Nurses oversee the patient's daily needs. Doctors are available regularly, and at any time of the day or night.
This level of care is actually quite restrictive. Patients who require this type of drug detox may be medically or mentally unstable. For those who are on prescription drugs, tapering them off the drugs can be done in this setting.
This type of drug rehab takes place in a residential setting. The type of care that is received can be different, based on the location. Physicians, nurses and physician assistants may be on hand in intensive supervision cases. However, some of these facilities have limited medical oversight. In these facilities, the level of care is much lower because of the lower risk to patient safety. Even so, patients do receive 24-hour care and supervision.
Patients are regularly assessed for high-risk situations. For example, if a patient is at risk for seizures, he or she may be transferred to a different facility for treatment.
This method of drug detox actually offers a much more cost-effective method of treatment for those who need it.
For patients with mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms, intensive outpatient detox is available. If a patient is deemed to need a higher level of care, that is easily arranged.
These facilities are often referred to as partial hospitalization programs. Patients are able to live at home and receive the services they need. However, patients are required to be present for several hours a day. Physicians, nurses and other medical personnel are available, and monitor patients closely.
Today, many drug detox programs are moving toward a more holistic model. Holistic and medical drug detox are very different. This method is still medical in nature in that facilities are staffed by medical professionals. However, they do not use medications to assist with the detoxification programs. Instead, they use a combination of dietary changes and physical fitness to achieve their detox goals for patients.
Patients meet with a nutritionist upon arrival to create part of their treatment plans. Once the correct diet is in place, the patient's health begins to improve. This, in turn, results in the body expelling toxins much more easily. Beginning a physical fitness program also aids in the elimination of toxins.
While there are still patients who require drug detox medications, they're not always necessary. Sometimes they can even be detrimental. It is possible for detox medications to lead to secondary addictions. This is the main reason why holistic programs are sometimes more preferred.
These drugs are used for a variety of purposes. Some of them help with depression or anxiety symptoms. Others help to protect against high blood pressure or seizures.
During drug detoxification, patients are only on medications for a short time period. Otherwise, addiction has been known to occur with these and other drugs. For example, many patients find after taking Suboxone that they need to go through a second period of detox.
Tapering is another method that is commonly used for patients with drug addictions. It is very useful and quite necessary for those who present with prescription drug addictions.
Drug tapering involves giving patients lower doses of the drugs they're addicted to over time. Dosages of these medications are tapered, which should result in less withdrawal symptoms.
However, even during the slowest taper, withdrawal symptoms are likely to appear in some form. If they do, additional medications may be considered to counteract them.
Whether tapering is used, or medications are used, the goal is to keep the patient safe. A number of different medical complications can occur during drug detox. Avoiding these complications is the aim of the drug detoxification team.
For those who have never been through drug detox before, it's normal to have questions. Getting answers to those questions helps to relieve stress, and prepare individuals for treatment.
Below, you'll find several frequently asked questions and their answers.
It makes sense that you would want to locate a drug detox center near you. However, you may also want to consider going a way from home. Sometimes, people find that traveling for drug treatment offers them additional benefits they weren't expecting.
Regardless of where you are looking for drug detox, there are many different resources available to you. Finding the right one for you doesn't have to be difficult. SAMHSA is a great resource for those with drug addictions. You will find some great information on this site. You'll also be directed toward a drug detox near you.
Knowing what to look for in a drug detox program is very important. You want to be sure you're choosing a facility that will be able to meet your needs.
There are a few key components you'll want to look for when choosing a drug detox. These include:
You can find all of the above. It's important to be sure you ask the right questions before beginning treatment. Doing so will help to ensure that you receive the best care possible.
Getting treated for an addiction can be costly. However it is an important investment into your health and your future. The cost of drug detox always varies, depending on the patient's personal needs during treatment.
Drug detoxification can cost between $1,000 and $5,000. The amount of time that is required during drug detox and the method of treatment needed both play a role.
Health insurance companies are now required to offer benefits to those who need addiction treatment. This includes drug detox treatment.
This is a significant change that has only been in place for the last few years. It is because of the Affordable Care Act. This healthcare law has allowed many people to get addiction treatment who could never afford it in the past.
Not all drug detox facilities participate with all health insurance plans. You'll want to be careful to find one that participates with your carrier. This will minimize your out of pocket costs significantly. You may even find that your treatment is completely covered. Verifying your insurance is the first step to understanding your benefits.
Not everyone in the United States has health insurance. This is something that causes many to avoid getting information about drug detox. Even so, there are different ways to get help.
If this is a situation you're facing right now, you can:
It's understandable that your goal right now is to get help for your addiction. There are many ways to accomplish that goal so that you can.
Going to a drug detox center for the first time can make anyone nervous. You've never been through any type of treatment before. You're not sure what to expect.
Fortunately, there's no need for you to be concerned. Every drug detox is different. However, the staff members will go above and beyond to be sure you're comfortable.
Upon your arrival, you'll be taken through the intake process. This will involve asking you some questions about your addiction. It's important to be honest about what types of substances you have been using. Doing so will only make your treatment plan more accurate.
After you have gone through the admissions process, your belongings will be checked, and you'll be shown to your room. Soon after that, you will meet with a doctor and other members of the medical team. The doctor will conduct a physical. It's important for them to learn as much about your medical history as possible. Any medical issues you might be dealing with will be assessed at this time as well.
Once you have met with the doctor, drug detox protocol will begin. This may involve medications, meeting with a nutritionist and getting involved in activities with other patients.
It won't be long before you begin to feel right at home and comfortable.
Your stay at drug detox will vary, depending on what your needs are. If your addiction is relatively minor, you might find that you only need to detox for a few days. However, if it is more serious, you could be in drug detox for much longer.
The most important thing you can do at this stage is to listen closely to what your treatment team recommends. If a longer stay in drug detox is recommended, complying is in your best interests. Drug withdrawal symptoms can become very unpleasant, even if they don't necessarily start out that way.
After you have gone through the detoxification process, the next step is going to drug rehab. The right type of drug rehab will be recommended for you, based on your needs. However, it will generally include one of the following:
Families with addicted loved ones often suffer right along with them. It is so hard to watch a family member live with an addiction. It brings a great deal of stress upon the family as a whole.
If this is a situation you're in right now, there are a few things you can do. Maybe you've noticed the drug use, but you don't know how to talk about it. That very first conversation you have can be awkward, but knowing how to go about it can help. You can start by taking these steps:
If talking with your family member doesn't help, it's time to think about the next step. Intervention services are available through many drug detox and drug rehab facilities. During an intervention, you and other friends and family members will have an opportunity to share. These meetings are very emotional, and many times, the end result is an agreement to get treatment right away.
You may or may not realize that you have an addiction. Not everyone is aware of it, even though others around them might be. Maybe you're wondering if this is the right treatment for you. If you have many of the symptoms of addiction, then you probably need drug detox services.
These are all signs that you probably need drug detoxification. If you have further questions, taking a detox quiz can help as well.
It's not easy to make the decision to get help for a drug addiction. In fact, it might be the hardest decision you'll ever make. However, it will also be the most rewarding.