What is Drug and Alcohol Detox?


What is Drug and Alcohol Detox?

Detoxification (detox) is the process of removing toxic substances that have accumulated throughout the body during the duration of substance abuse. When a person decides to quit drinking or using drugs, detoxification is often a step they have to take if their habitual use has led to addiction. Fear of detox is one of the reasons many people are reluctant to seek help for their addiction, some people even try to quit on their own but usually without success.


Substance Abuse Withdrawal Symptoms

When a person's dealing with an addiction due to the abuse of addictive substances like drugs or alcohol, withdrawal symptoms can also occur during detox. The type of symptoms and level of severity experienced during withdrawal depend on the substance abused, how heavily it's been abused and the height of addiction at the time of detox.

Detoxing from More Than One Substance

The abuse of more than one substance is very common anymore but most people don't realize it can make a difference during detoxification. When a person's detoxing from more than one substance, such as prescription medications and heroin or alcohol and cocaine, detox can be much more physically difficult compared to detoxing from a single substance.

What Does Drug Detox Entail?

That depends on what type of detox a person chooses, there are many different methods of detoxification and some addicts even make the choice to stop using drugs all at once on their own, which is often referred to as 'going cold turkey'. Unfortunately this option is rarely a successful detox method especially if the addict is going through the process by themselves.

Another way to detox is to frequently reduce the dose of the drug until the user is no longer dependent, when this is done under supervision, it's a more successful method of detox. Withdrawal symptoms may still occur using this method of detox and the symptoms may be less severe, but the length of time they're experienced will be longer.

The most successful drug detox method combines tapering down the dosage with the assistance of medical professionals that will also assist the patient with withdrawal symptoms and individual counseling and group therapy. The psychological stress associated with detox can be just as devastating and overwhelming as the physical stress and unfortunately together, they can contribute to relapse.

Is there an Ideal Drug Detox Method?

Unfortunately there isn't a specific method for a success detox. It's important to understand that no two people are alike, addicts will experience symptoms of withdrawal in different intensities and degrees. A drug detoxification method that addresses all aspects of a person's drug use and works to eliminate all of the drugs toxins and chemicals from the body is considered an ideal detox. The physical and mental dependence on the drug needs to be equally addressed for a successful drug detox. In order to reduce the chance of relapse from occurring, treatment and/or maintenance should follow drug detox as soon as possible.

The Effect's of Alcohol Use and Abuse

Most people don't realize that alcohol is classified as a drug, it's a toxic substance that depresses the central nervous system and has the ability to produce physical and behavioral dependency. It's actually the depressant action of alcohol that brings the greatest amount of the most commonly observed drinking effects. Alcohol brings on feelings of euphoria at first so people may think it's a stimulant, but the initial effects don't last long. As deeper structures in the brain become effected by alcohol, feelings of fatigue and lethargy begin to take over replacing the euphoric effects.

What are the Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can begin to be experienced if a heavy drinker significantly decreases their consumption or if they suddenly stop drinking. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal are actually just the opposite of the effects associated with the consumption of alcohol because some of the symptoms include anxiety, agitation, seizures and DTs. The neurotransmitters in the brain that were previously suppressed by alcohol are no longer suppressed when a heavy drinker abruptly stops or drastically reduces their intake of alcohol, they rebound resulting in a phenomenon known as brain hyperexcitability. Other symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Shakiness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Delirium tremens
  • Agitation
  • Fever
  • Convulsions
  • Black outs


Alcohol Detox

Alcohol detox can be serious because some of the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal are dangerous. Withdrawal from alcohol can be so severe that people commonly have to be hospitalized when they're wanting to get off alcohol and stop drinking. A medical drug detox program that addresses a person's specific metabolic needs and state of health, will help to avoid the worst negative symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

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