The desire to end the addiction is the first step in a long journey toward sobriety, but for the best chance at success, time spent in a drug detox rehab program may be necessary. With the help of a detox program, the addict can pass through the withdrawal process with as little discomfort as possible while under medical supervision. This ensures addicts cannot get hold of drugs and also ensures the recovery is as safe as possible.
Drug addiction is a serious health and social issue, costing more than $600 billion a year according to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Signs of drug addiction may include:
“The desire to end the addiction is the first step in a long journey toward sobriety…”There are two primary types of drug detoxification programs: rapid detox, which takes a fast medical approach to the detoxification process, and tapering off, which requires a longer length of time to complete. Each detox program is effective at removing the drugs from an addict’s system while avoiding the withdrawal process, although they use radically different methods for doing so.
Detox can be done either on an inpatient or outpatient basis depending on the method used. Rapid detox is always inpatient due to way in which the necessary medication is administered to the patient. The tapering method of detox can be done either on an inpatient or outpatient basis.
Rapid detox programs are intended to quickly flush drugs from an addict’s body. The flushing process only takes a few hours, followed by a supervisory period lasting as long as 48 hours. Most patients undergoing rapid detox do so at a drug detox center set up specifically for the process. This allows the patient to undergo detox in an isolated environment under direct medical care. Rapid detox is used primarily with those addicted to opiates or alcohol.
The first step to the rapid detox process occurs immediately after checking into the center. The patient undergoes a physical examination to determine his or her present health. The patient is also asked a series of health questions, which include information on the drugs the patient has taken as well as past medical history. This thorough examination is necessary for the patient’s own safety to ensure that the drugs used during the detox process won’t react negatively with any drugs already in a patient’s system. Answering honestly is of vital importance for this reason.
After the examination, if the patient is considered suitable to undergo treatment, the actual process of detoxification can begin. Rapid detox requires that the patient be placed under anesthesia during the process. After being put to sleep, the medication (buprenorphine or naltrexone for opiates; buprenorphine or clonidine for alcohol) that removes drugs from the patient’s body is administered. The procedure requires an hour or two to complete, after which the patient is moved to a recovery area for supervision. With the flushing completed, the patient is now drug-free without having to experience the effects of withdrawal.
The recovery period after treatment is crucial to the success of the process. During this period, the patient is under constant medical supervision. This supervision makes sure that there are no adverse effects from the detox process. With medical personnel on hand, any negative effects can be dealt with quickly.
Tapering is the name given to the second detox program method, due to the process of gradually decreasing the level of drugs within an addict’s body until none remains. Unlike the rapid detox process, tapering off can last for several weeks. The total length of the process is largely determined by the initial drug level in the patient’s system at program check-in as well as by how the patient reacts to the process.
As with rapid detox, the first step after checking into the program is the examination process. Once that’s completed the tapering process can begin.
Tapering a patient off drugs is generally done using a similar substitute. This substitute drug has many of the same effects on the patient’s system as the addictive drug that the patient uses but contains fewer pleasure-giving properties. The idea is to keep the patient from entering withdrawal by providing the addictive substance that the patient needs without using the dangerously high levels of the addictive drug that the patient may be used to.
Once the patient is stabilized with the substitute drug, the amount of the drug given to the patient is slowly lowered. The best results are obtained by lowering the drug each day that it’s administered, allowing the patient’s body to gradually adjust to each lowered drug level. Eventually the amount of the drug is low enough that ceasing its use completely will not result in withdrawal.
Tapering does not always work effectively throughout the entire process. As the amount of the administered drugs is reduced, the patient may occasionally begin showing symptoms of detox. When this occurs, the level of the drug is raised slightly for a short while to allow the patient to readjust to the plateaued drug level. Once the patient adjusts, the tapering process is continued. After the drug is stopped, the patient undergoes a medical supervision period of 48 hours to ensure that no withdrawal occurs.
According to a 2010 National Institute on Drug Abuse report, more over 22.6 million Americans over the age of 12 were estimated to have abused drugs in the month before the report’s survey. If you or a loved one is addicted to drugs, there is a way out.