Addiction causes profound physical, psychological, and behavioral changes that can destroy an individual’s life. Professional treatment is almost always needed to return people to a healthy life.
The first step in a treatment program is detoxification, but withdrawal symptoms can be very unpleasant. Some people experience such intense discomfort that they cannot achieve total detoxification, returning to substance abuse to end the withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox is a method developed to assist individuals with withdrawal symptoms, so they are ready to begin their treatment program. Here we will explore the benefits of medical detox for women.
Why Medications Are Needed During Detox
Individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol for an extended period may have particular difficulty during detoxification. Alcohol and drugs cause changes in the neurotransmitter chemistry of the brain. Over some time, the brain begins to rely on alcohol or drugs to provide the stimulation of pleasure centers, and the normal production of brain chemicals ceases.
When alcohol or drugs are withheld, the effects on the body and brain can be severe. Feelings of pain, blood pressure elevation, and seizures can result. Some withdrawal effects can be life-threatening and require careful medical monitoring to ensure patients get through detoxification safely. Blood pressure fluctuations and heart arrhythmias are not uncommon.
The process of detoxification can be accomplished safely with medical supervision, and the withdrawal period can even be shortened by the appropriate use of certain medications that minimize discomfort. Using these medications can help individuals begin their treatment programs sooner and in better physical condition.
Medications Used for Opiate Withdrawal
Withdrawal from opiate drugs like heroin and prescription painkillers can produce severe chills, sweating, muscle aches, joint pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. A variety of medications can be used to reduce these symptoms. Methadone, Suboxone, and antidepressants are often used to reduce cravings and block the effects of opiates. Anti-convulsive drugs may be used to control seizures during detoxification.1
Medications Used for Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal can produce several uncomfortable symptoms, including nausea, tremors, and headache. Anti-nausea medications can relieve stomach discomfort, and anti-convulsive medications can help with seizures that may occur. Antidepressant drugs are used to stabilize mood during the detox process. Naltrexone and disulfiram are used to reduce cravings. In addition, blood pressure medications help to reduce hypertension.2
Medications Used for Stimulant Withdrawal
Stimulant withdrawal can cause severe depression, fatigue, long periods of sleeping, and poor concentration when awake. Antidepressants may be needed to stabilize mood. Anti-psychotic medications can be necessary to eliminate hallucinations and improve cognitive ability. Modafinil can be provided for extensive sleepiness.
Medications Used for Sedative Withdrawal
Sedative addiction usually involves benzodiazepine drugs. These are highly addictive drugs that frequently produce withdrawal symptoms when stopped. These symptoms can be reduced with long-acting benzodiazepines in place of short-acting drugs.
If fear of the discomfort of withdrawal keeps you from getting the addiction treatment you need, contact a professional treatment center to discuss options for medical detox for women who can help you through the first difficult days of your recovery process.