What Is Medical Drug Detox?
Medical drug detox is professional drug detox that is supervised by doctors
and a medical staff. Medical drug detox is the best form of drug detox
because having doctors and a medical team on standby assisting individuals
that are going through drug detox dramatically reduces the possibility
of the body shutting down due to withdrawal symptoms.
In fact, the chances of that happening while attending medical drug detox
are slim to none. This is because the doctors and medical staff at medical
drug detox centers will prescribe medication to help individuals manage
any severe withdrawal symptoms.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?
Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is when doctors treat the withdrawal
symptoms that individuals experience during medical drug detox with prescription
medications. MAT is often necessary to safely stabilize a person’s
body during drug detox.
Medications That Doctors Prescribe Individuals With During Medication-Assisted Treatment
There are certain types of medications that doctors use to treat withdrawal
symptoms during drug detox.
These medications include:
Substances That Require Medication-Assisted Treatment During Drug Detox
Some substances are more addictive than others and thus cause more severe
withdrawal symptoms when detoxing. As a result, individuals that are detoxing
from such substances are advised to receive MAT.
Examples of substances that require MAT during drug detox include:
Doctors at detox centers prescribe Acamprosate, disulfiram, or naltrexone
to individuals that are detoxing from alcohol. Doctors prescribe buprenorphine,
methadone, naltrexone, naloxone, and suboxone to treat opioid withdrawals,
As previously mentioned, due to the addictive nature of substances, individuals
that are detoxing from them experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal
symptoms are the body’s response to no longer having substances
that it has been dependent on for an extended period of time.
Withdrawal symptoms are often physical but can be mental and emotional
as well. Drug withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the substance that
individuals are detoxing from and even the amount of time that people
have been detoxing.
Opioid and Heroin Withdrawal
Heroin is technically a type of opioid. Therefore, the withdrawal symptoms
of heroin and other opioids are very similar.
While heroin is an illegal opioid, many opioids are prescription drugs
that people use to relieve themselves of pain. Thus, many individuals
develop an addiction to opioids due to taking too many opioid pills in
an attempt to relieve more of their pain quicker. Another probable reason
is because they are taking prescription opioid medications for too long
of a period of time because they still feel pain and fear no longer taking
the drug. Other individuals just purposely choose to misuse prescription
opioids due to their euphoric effects.
Acute opioid withdrawal symptoms include:
- Troubles sleeping
- Frequent yawning
- Flu-like symptoms
- Hot and cold flashes
- Runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle cramps and body aches
Short-acting opioid withdrawal symptoms begin around 8-24 hours after the
last time that a person has used the substance and lasts for an average
of 4-10 days. Examples drugs that induce short-acting opioid withdrawal
symptoms include heroin and certain prescription painkillers.
Longer-acting opioid withdrawal symptoms begin around 2-4 days after the
last time that the substance was used and lasts for around 10 days. Examples
of longer-acting opioids include methadone.
Benzodiazepines are a central nervous system depressant. People often use
benzodiazepines to treat anxiety, panic disorders, or anxiety disorders.
Doctors also prescribe benzodiazepines to treat muscle spasms. This is
due to the relaxing effect that benzodiazepine has on the muscles and
the body. Common benzodiazepines include Xanax, Vlaium, Ativan, Klonopin,
Librium, and Valium.
Possible benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Hand tremors
- Muscle spasms
- Racing pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
- Aches and pain
- Panic attacks
- Hypersensitivity to light
- Poor memory
- Trouble concentrating
- Auditory, tactile, or visual hallucinations
- Blurred vision, possibly due to seeing flashes of light
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms typically begin within one to four days
after the last use. Benzodiazepine withdrawal tends to peak around two
weeks after the last use, though. Protracted benzodiazepine withdrawal
can last months or years.
Alcohol is another central nervous system depressant.
Therefore common alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Delirium tremens
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as a couple of hours after
the last drink that a person has had. The alcohol withdrawal symptom of
delirium tremens may not start for another few days though. Although alcohol
is one of the most accessible and commonly misused substances, because
of the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms, doctors must monitor individuals
detoxing from the substance.
The Importance of Tapering When Detoxing from Drugs
Quitting alcohol and drug use cold turkey can increase the severity of
withdrawal symptoms and shock the body into a dangerous state that could
lead to death. Thus, the safest way to perform drug detox is to taper
a person’s use of substances. Tapering refers to slowly decreasing
the amount of substances that a person is using until he or she is no
longer using or is dependent on any substance.
The Drug Detox Process
Drug detox occurs in three main steps. These steps are evaluation, stabilization,
and transition to treatment.
During the evaluation stage of drug detox, doctors and a medical team will
assess the patient’s physical and mental state. A medical team will
also administer a comprehensive, multi-paneled test to all individuals
entering drug detox to see what drugs are within their bodies’ system
and how much of the drugs are present. Based on the results of the evaluation
stage of drug detox, MAT is necessary or not.
The stabilization stage of medical drug detox is the stage at which patients
are actively ridding their bodies of substances. During this stage of
medical drug detox, individuals will experience withdrawal symptoms. Thus,
it’s also during this stage of medical drug detox that individuals
will receive MAT.
Doctors and a medical team along with addiction treatment specialists and
mental health counselors at detox centers will monitor every moment during
this stage of medical drug detox. All of these medical, addiction treatment,
and mental health professionals will do whatever they can to make drug
detox as comfortable as possible. This includes providing mental support,
sleep accommodations, and regular meals on top of any necessary MAT.
Transition to Treatment
The third and final stage of drug detox is a transition to treatment. At
this point in the drug detox process, the bodies of patients are stable.
Therefore, addiction treatment specialists will support drug detox patients
by advising them on what they need to do next while entering drug addiction
treatment. Individuals with any lingering withdrawal symptoms may still
be able to receive some form of MAT to help them cope as they transition
Follow Drug Detox With Addiction Treatment At Grace Land Recovery
Grace Land Recovery is a dual diagnosis treatment center located in the Memphis, Tennessee
area that helps individuals overcome both their substance use and mental
health disorders. As a treatment center that treats individuals with substance
use disorders, we understand the value of drug detox. That’s why
we advise that all individuals attend medical drug detox prior to receiving
Once individuals do complete drug detox, we’re here to provide them
with the addiction treatment and therapy services that they need to maintain
sobriety long-term. To learn more about Grace Land Recovery and the various
addiction treatments, therapies, and services that we offer,
contact us today!