Generally, medical detox is appropriate when a person is unable to safely stop using drugs by themselves. This can apply to any addictive drug. The most common drugs requiring medical drug detoxification care tend to be highly addictive, presenting strong withdrawal symptoms which can make it too difficult or dangerous to quit alone. Here, we look at which drugs are recommended for medical detox.
Detox from Heroin or Cocaine
“Hard” drugs, like heroin or cocaine, often provoke strong withdrawal reactions in users. These can include anxiety, depression, fatigue, muscle pains and aches, insomnia, cramping, and nausea. The symptoms of withdrawing from opioids and stimulants can often be eased with the use of medication. “Hard” drugs are not always the most difficult to quit.
Detox from Benzos
Benzodiazepines – often thought of by the general public as softer or less serious drugs – can cause some of the fiercest withdrawal symptoms in addicted users and can result in the most difficult detox experiences. With severe benzodiazepine withdrawal presenting symptoms like panic attacks, heart palpitations, seizures or psychotic reactions in extreme cases, medical supervision and intervention is often crucial for patient safety.
Detox from Alcohol
In addition to addictive substances like benzodiazepines or opioids, regular alcohol abuse can also require medical detox. Many people with a mild Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) can cut back on their alcohol consumption and eliminate drinking with proper treatment and guidance, without having to rely on professional medical detox. However, those with more moderate to severe cases of AUD can find that trying to quit alcohol can be incredibly difficult, or even hazardous, to their health if one goes “cold turkey” without the proper environment or support.
Serious alcohol withdrawal can occur, in which users experience symptoms like anxiety, shakiness, headaches, and even hallucinations or seizures. Those with severe AUD can experience delirium tremens – prolonged hallucinations and delusions that are accompanied by a host of severe, urgent medical issues that require immediate medical intervention. 4
In many cases, a user’s relationship to a given substance can have just as much bearing on the need for medical detox as the substance itself. Not everyone who uses “hard” drugs will become addicted, so medical detox may not be necessary in all cases. Similarly, people with addictive tendencies and a history of continued misuse may benefit from medical detox even if they do not use something like cocaine or heroin. It is always best to consult a medical professional in order to determine if medical detox is an appropriate beginning to treatment for one’s unique case.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, please call 855.712.7784 . We can help.