Individuals suffering from addiction are often fearful of entering detox due to the typical discomfort associated with withdrawals from drugs and alcohol. While withdrawal symptoms are often considered physical, many substances also can be associated with difficult mental health and psychiatric issues during withdrawal.
Fortunately, there are many FDA-approved medications that are safe and effective in getting people detoxed and through withdrawals in a comfortable way. Each individual who enters detox, depending on their medical history and what substances they are using, will be seen, assessed, and evaluated by a doctor and then put on a clinically appropriate detox protocol of medications that will help treat their symptoms. Every patient should also be evaluated by a psychiatrist, who can make sure they are properly assessed for any mental health or psychiatric issues, and prescribed medications to ensure mental health and psychiatric issues are appropriately managed through detox and the withdrawal process.
Medications that are commonly used in a medical detox setting:
The below 15 items are commonly used medications in a medical drug detox facility.
Acamprosate (brand name: Campral) is a medication approved by the FDA in the treatment for alcoholism. It is one of three approved medications to treat alcohol use disorder by the FDA and reduces the brain’s dependence on alcohol by reacting with the brain’s neurotransmitter systems.
Antiadrenegic agents are drugs that inhibit the signals of epinephrine and norepinephrine. Some examples of these types of drugs are clonidine and propranolol. These medications are often used during detox to help treat the withdrawal symptoms from alcohol, opiates, and benzodiazepines.
Some examples of anticonvulsant drugs used during a detox stay to help manage symptoms or side effects from drug and alcohol withdrawals are Depakote or Tegretol. Other examples of anticonvulsants are phenobarbital, levetiracetam (Keppra), and clonazepam (Klonopin.) Anticonvulsants work in different ways depending on the specific drug to prevent seizures.
Antidepressants are types of medication that help relieve symptoms of depression, social anxiety, other types of anxiety disorders, as well as several other disorders. These drugs aim to correct chemical imbalances in the brain of neurotransmitters that are responsible for changes in mood and behavior. Some examples of antidepressants are Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft.
During detox, many patients experience withdrawal symptoms that include nausea. Therefore, in order to treat those withdrawal symptoms, doctors and nurses may prescribe anti-nausea medications. Some examples of these medicines often used in detox are Zofran, promethazine, and metoclopramide.
For those patients in detox that have certain co-occurring or psychiatric issues, a doctor or nurse at the detox may prescribe them an antipsychotic medication. Antipsychotic medications can be used to help treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, dementia, and other psychiatric issues. These medications don’t cure psychosis, but they can help in reducing and controlling many psychotic symptoms, such as delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and hearing voices. Sometimes they can also help treat withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and major agitation in patients. Some examples of antipsychotics used in a detox setting for drugs and alcohol include olanzapine, Risperdal, Seroquel, Abilify, and Clozaril.
Benzodiazepines are a type of medication, known as tranquilizers, commonly used for their sedating effects and to often prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, panic attacks, seizures, and insomnia, or trouble sleeping. Common examples of benzodiazepines are Ativan (lorazepam), chlordiazepoxide, diazepam, Librium, Valium, and Xanax. They are often used in several types of drug detox. However, because benzodiazepines are often addicting and many people seek drug detox and treatment for benzodiazepine addiction, they need to be carefully used and monitored during detox. For individuals that do not have a history of benzodiazepine addiction, these medications can be extremely helpful through detox. For those that do have a history or current active misuse of benzodiazepines, these medications can be used during detox but should be closely monitored.
Used primarily in detox from opioids or opiates, buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist approved by the FDA to treat opioid use disorder and addiction. It can be used in a detox setting or prescribed as part of a Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) protocol. Buprenorphine is a safe and effective medication that helps to diminish the effects of physical dependency on opioids, such as reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings, increases safety in cases of potential overdose, and lowers the potential for misuse. Buprenorphine can be prescribed directly or as part of similar branded medications in different formulations, such as in sublingual tablets called Subutex, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone sublingual tablets called Zubsolv, or as an extended-release injection called Sublocade.
Often used during detox to treat alcohol use disorder or alcoholism, Disulfiram is a medication that interferes with how the body breaks down alcohol. It is manufactured and designed to produce a negative and/or unpleasant physical effect if combined with alcohol, meaning that when combined with alcohol this medication produces an acute sensitivity to the ethanol. Disulfiram is sold under the trade name Antabuse.
Used to treat opioid use disorder and opioid addiction, methadone is a medication that is often used in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs but can also be used to both help detox someone that is coming off methadone or as a short-term detox protocol for opioid misuse and abuse. Methadone is a long-acting opioid agonist that reduces opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
The medication Modafinil is typically used to treat excessive sleepiness caused by narcolepsy and other sleep disorders. Prescribed to help prevent excessive sleepiness or tiredness, Modafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent that works by changing the amounts of certain natural substances in the brain that control sleep and wakefulness.
The medication naltrexone is often used in a medical detox and treatment for those individuals suffering from alcohol use disorder, alcoholism, opioid use disorder, or opioid addiction. It is an FDA-approved medication that comes in either pill form or as an injectable. Naltrexone works by blocking the euphoric and sedative effects of painkilling substances such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl, and codeine. This medication binds and blocks the opioid receptors in the brain and helps to reduce cravings.
The brand name Suboxone is a medication used in the treatment of opioid addiction. It is delivered via a sublingual tablet that dissolves under the tongue or as a sublingual film that dissolves under the tongue or inside the cheek. Suboxone is a combination of two drugs, buprenorphine and naloxone. It helps to lessen the intensity of withdrawal symptoms from drugs like heroin, OxyContin, Percocet or other opioid and opiate drugs.
Subutex is a sublingual tablet that contains the medication buprenorphine and is a partial opioid agonist that operates at the mu-opioid receptor. It typically comes in two dosage strengths, 2 mg and 8 mg. Subutex is a medication indicated for the treatment of opioid dependence, opioid use disorder, and opioid addiction.
Vivitrol is a type of medication that utilizes naltrexone in an extended-release injectable suspension. Naltrexone binds to the endorphin receptors in the body and blocks the feelings and effects of both opioids and alcohol. This medication helps reduce cravings and thoughts regarding the use of opioids and alcohol.
What to do if you think you or a loved one required a Medical Detox
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.