Depending on which substances they are using, a medical detox program is necessary for many people. The unfortunate truth is that many of the most addictive substances cause withdrawal symptoms. These are symptoms that occur when you discontinue the substances. These are usually just unpleasant, but they can also be fatal.
Medical detox programs will help you with these symptoms by ensuring that a doctor is watching over you. We will explain why medical detox is necessary for many people, what to expect from a detox program, common withdrawal symptoms, and the types of therapy to expect after detox.
Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
What Is Medical Detox?
The goal of a medical detox program is to detoxify your body or to allow your body to completely process the substance until there is no more inside of you. How the doctor will go about that progression largely depends on what substances you are using and your presentation of symptoms.
Medical detox most commonly involves tapering the substance so that your body can get used to functioning at lower and lower amounts of it. For example, if you are using opioids, then the doctor might halve the amount you’re taking, then halve it again, and then halve it again until you’re no longer taking any opioids. This gradual process should also avoid or reduce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
A doctor might also prescribe supplemental medication. Withdrawal symptoms can manifest as pain, fatigue, a racing heart rate, seizures, and much more. A doctor will check for these symptoms and might use medications to ease them. Your physician will also monitor your overall health by checking your temperature, blood pressure, and other vitals during every visit.
The frequency of medication dosing will also depend on your presentation. Some people might require inpatient care whereas others will need daily visits, and some just need a weekly or a monthly visit.
Types of Medical Detox Programs
In the broadest sense, there are two types of medical detox programs. There are inpatient and outpatient detox programs. While both types aim to help you biologically discontinue the substance, they are different in how they operate.
Inpatient care means that you stay at the detox center or hospital for the entire day. This gives you around-the-clock access to doctors, nurses, and other medical staff members. If your withdrawal symptoms are severe, if you are having a very hard time controlling your use, or if you are using a large amount of the substance, then this level of care might be best for you. While it might be inconvenient that you can’t go home until the detox is over, inpatient care ensures that you are able to complete the program before being released.
Outpatient care means that you go about your daily life and visit your doctor during scheduled appointments. The appointment schedule is usually either daily or weekly, depending on your presentation. If you have some control over your cravings and if your presentation is either mild or moderate, then outpatient care might work for you.
This type of care ensures that you can work, see friends, sleep in your own bed, and live your normal life while you receive treatment. The tricky part is that you have to be in control of your cravings throughout the process. This requirement is why a doctor will often connect you with self-help groups and therapy services so that you can tackle the mental side of substance use.
What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?
The major goal of medical detox, aside from helping you discontinue the substance, is to avoid or to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Many people know that withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable or even fatal, but you may not know what they really are or why they happen.
Withdrawal symptoms occur whenever your body is balancing out from a substance. The symptoms that manifest depend largely on your body chemistry and the substance you’re using. While each substance will create different symptoms, which we will explain later, the truth is that your body’s reaction might cause unique or uncommon symptoms. That’s another reason why a medical detox program can be helpful. The doctor will know what to do when these symptoms occur.
Withdrawal symptoms tend to be both mental and physical. Physical symptoms can be sweating, pain, nausea, diarrhea, and more. Mental symptoms can include lack of motivation, low energy, irritability, and unexplained sadness. The symptoms are usually the opposite of what the substance does. For example, opioids block pain, so it’s common to feel pain during withdrawal. Alcohol is a depressant, so it’s common to feel irritable.
Another thing to keep in mind is that withdrawals indicate that your body has become dependent on the substance. That doesn’t mean that the dependency is permanent, but it does mean that your body is expecting the substance and that you will feel uncomfortable until you level out. This process can take time, but it’s important that you don’t give in. Using the substance again will make the cycle start from the beginning.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
If there are any substances known for their withdrawal symptoms, they are prescription opioids and heroin. The withdrawal symptoms have been well-documented due to the severity of the addiction to these drugs, but the good news is that there are now many treatments to help ease the opioid withdrawal symptoms.
The most common withdrawal symptoms for opioids include:
- Muscle aches and pains
Many people are worried about opioid and heroin withdrawal symptoms. The truth is that they are often more uncomfortable than fatal. However, they can be fatal in an indirect way. Withdrawal symptoms tend to make you feel more vulnerable and can lead to an accidental overdose.
It is also important to note that these symptoms may manifest if you are using a prescribed dose of opioids. Your doctor will typically taper the dose when it is time to discontinue the medication in order to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. A medical detox program can also help with tapering as part of medication-assisted treatment.
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
Benzodiazepines are commonly used to produce a calm feeling. They can also act as sedatives, and many people with underlying anxiety concerns will use these. These are usually prescribed legitimately in the forms of Klonopin, Xanax, Valium, and Ativan, but some people find themselves using more than they should.
The common benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle tremors and spasms
Much like opioids, these withdrawal symptoms may manifest even if you are using a prescribed dose. This usage will usually be tapered when it’s time to discontinue the medication. A detox program can help if you are facing cravings and having a hard time discontinuing the medication.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
You might be surprised to learn that there are alcohol withdrawal symptoms as well. Not only that, but these symptoms can quickly become fatal, especially if you consumed large quantities of alcohol over a long period of time. A medical detox program can be very helpful here as the doctor can watch your symptoms and intervene if they get worse.
The most common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Racing heart rate
- Tactile hallucinations, which are feeling things that are not there
- Auditory hallucinations, which are hearing things that are not there
The most serious withdrawal symptoms tend to occur 48 to 72 hours after your last drink, but they can start manifesting as soon as six hours after your last drink. A detox service or hospital might be needed during this time.
Seeking therapy services during or after your medical detox can be very helpful. We embrace the 12-step philosophy and frequently connect people to local self-help groups. These groups are free and recognized for helping people just like you through the recovery process. Another benefit is that you will be connected with sober peers who are seeking to better their lives.
Two of the most common groups we connect people to are Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous (AA and NA). You can hear stories from other people and connect with a sponsor. This is someone who helps others through the recovery process by answering questions and by talking to you about how you’re feeling. These activities are especially helpful when you have cravings.
Some people love self-help groups whereas others may find that it does not work for them. We want to give you as many treatment options as possible.
Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment
Therapy services can be coordinated on an inpatient or outpatient level. There are also various levels of care offered depending on your needs and preferences. You might find that you need an intensive program, or maybe a weekly individual session is right for you. Be sure to discuss your needs when contacting us. We will create a treatment plan tailored to your specific recovery journey.
Inpatient care mostly consists of residential and partial hospitalization care. Both of these are functionally the same with the major difference being the amount of time you stay at the facility. They both allow you to access doctors, nurses, and therapists and to engage in treatment activities to further your recovery. Not only does this allow you to get away from your stressors, but it is also very helpful if your living environment is not supportive of recovery.
Partial hospitalization allows you to stay for half the day, which means that you can sleep in your own bed at night. Residential means that you stay at the facility until treatment is complete.
Individual therapy allows you to meet one-on-one with our trained therapists. You can then discuss private concerns that you may not want to share with others. The therapist will lend an empathetic ear while also teaching you new ways to manage stress. IOP treatment is a type of group therapy that meets for three hours every session. You will usually meet three times a week. This allows you to meet with others so that you may all learn from each other as you further your recovery.
We at Granite Recovery Centers have helped with medical detox and inpatient and outpatient therapy for over 10 years. Whether you are facing troubles with alcohol, opioids, cocaine, benzodiazepines, or any other substance, we are here to help. Contact us today, and we can help form a treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. We like our clients to stay engaged in their treatment, so be sure to tell us everything that you need during the consultation.