For anyone that is in active addiction, regardless of how long or how much they are using, starting their addiction treatment and recovery journey with a detox and period of medical stabilization is always recommended. Making sure that 24/7 medical and clinical support is available to help someone through any withdrawal symptoms, be that physical withdrawal symptoms or any mental and emotional issues, and those first few days of stopping the use of drugs and alcohol is always beneficial.
However, depending on what substances a person is using there will be a greater or lesser need for a medical detox. Not all substances are the same or effect a person the same. Some substances create physical dependency, while others are more difficult mentally and emotionally to stop using. Again, due to both the physical and mental impact of addiction, there is no question that going to a detox for a week or two to get both medically stabilized, physically healthier, and mentally and emotionally stable is always the best option for anyone truly looking to get off drugs and alcohol and find recovery.
Which Drugs Require Detox?
Opioids are highly addictive substances that are physically addictive and cause physical dependency. Often referred to as painkillers, prescription opioids are drugs prescribed by a doctor or other medical professional. Prescription opioids can be prescribed for a short time for acute pain, like after a surgery, or sometimes are prescribed over longer periods of time to help treat chronic pain. Examples of prescription opioids would be narcotics such as Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin, fentanyl, morphine, and codeine.
Anyone who uses prescription opioids consistently over even a short period of time can develop a physical tolerance and physical dependency to them, meaning that they begin to experience painful withdrawal symptoms that can last for several days once they stop taking opioids. This is one of the reasons it is so difficult to come off of opioids and why many individuals using and misusing opioids are so scared to try to stop. While opioid prescription opioid withdrawal may not be fatal, it is certainly painful, and requires medication and medical support to ensure that the patient receives the best outcome in terms of comfort during withdrawal and getting to a place of physical health and overall, just feeling better.
Heroin will be given its own category here, although heroin is an opioid. Heroin is an illicit opioid made from morphine. Like prescription opioids, heroin can be physically addicting, creating a physical dependence making it impossible to stop without going through withdrawal. Since it is an opioid, withdrawal from heroin on its own is not fatal, but it is extremely painful and uncomfortable. Many people describe it as the worst, most intense flu, with withdrawal symptoms that can include chills, muscle aches, sweating, nausea and/or vomiting, running nose, restlessness, impossibility sleeping, diarrhea, and mental health issues such as extreme agitation and irritability, anxiety, and depression. Receiving monitored medication and medical and clinical support is key in receiving a comfortable, effective detox from heroin.
Unlike prescription painkillers or heroin, alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Suddenly stopping drinking can cause debilitating withdrawal symptoms that can sometimes be fatal. Additionally, alcohol withdrawal, even when not fatal, can be extremely uncomfortable, painful, and lead to medical complications or physical complications. Serious and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms from alcohol include delirium tremens (also known as DTs), fever, agitation and irritation, confusion, physical difficulty with balance, hallucinations, and seizures. There is no question that someone suffering from alcoholism, alcohol use disorder, or any form of a drinking problem needs to go to a medical detox.
Benzodiazepines are one of the most prescribed psychiatric drugs in America but are also often purchased illegally off the streets. Benzodiazepines are prescription tranquilizers known as depressants or sedatives, that are typically prescribed for mental health issues such as anxiety, for sleep disorders, or for primary medical conditions. Examples of benzodiazepines are Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, and Librium. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be fatal, and also often lasts much longer than other substances, meaning that the detox protocols used will also last longer in order to manage withdrawal symptoms. An additional issue regarding detox from benzodiazepines is the intense mental health symptoms that can accompany any physical withdrawal symptoms, including heightened anxiety, depression, panic attacks, increased risk of suicidal ideation or psychosis. Physical symptoms can include heart palpitations, headaches, excessive sweating, muscle stiffness and discomfort, and body tremors. Along with alcohol, benzodiazepines are the most risky and dangerous withdrawal scenarios of any substance. Therefore, it is vital that someone suffering from addiction to benzodiazepines enter a 24/7 staffed and medically supervised detox, so that they can receive the necessary medical and clinical attention to keep them safe and comfortable.
Stimulants (Cocaine, Methamphetamines, Adderall)
Stimulants are a general class of drugs that can include substances such as cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and Adderall. Stimulants are a class of drugs that speed up messages traveling between the brain and body, which is why the general class of substances in this category are often referred to as “uppers.” Some stimulants are prescribed, such as Adderall, for issues like ADHD and narcolepsy, while other stimulants, like cocaine or methamphetamine, are illegals drugs purchased on the street. While the withdrawal from stimulants isn’t as physically dangerous as alcohol, benzodiazepines or opioids, users of stimulants will certainly experience some physical discomfort when stopping their use of the drugs. More concerning, however, may be the mental health symptoms and associated intense mental cravings that often occur. Therefore, while the use of some medications to keep the individual physically comfortable may be less than with other drugs, it is very important that a person in need of help for stimulants seek the help and care of a medical detox, to ensure that they are monitored, kept safe, and comfortable.
If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.