California Highlands Addiction Treatment offers the first step in addiction treatment through safe and comprehensive medical detox for drug and alcohol dependence. We are committed to providing medical detox services with fully accredited medical professionals on staff, monitoring you for 24 hours per day. Through medical treatment, we can help alleviate uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and avoid any serious medical complications.
Withdrawal occurs after you form a chemical dependence on drugs or alcohol. The longer you have been using an addictive substance, the more intense your withdrawal symptoms could be. When your brain and body become used to a psychoactive chemical, it takes time to return to normal brain chemistry after quitting.
In some cases, as with central nervous system depressants like benzodiazepines and alcohol, withdrawal can cause potentially dangerous symptoms that require medical treatment. Withdrawal symptoms can be different from person to person and drug to drug, but a few common ones are:
Though certain drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous, the prognosis is typically greatly increased with medical care. Medical detox is about more than just mitigating discomfort; it can help treat and avoid dangerous medical complications.
Detox treatment is the highest level of care in addiction treatment, and it’s often the first step in the continuum of care. Detox can also be referred to as medically managed intensive inpatient services since it involves 24 hours of medical care every day.
Detox is a medical treatment designed to help you get through the first stage of addiction recovery. During this period, your brain chemistry is trying to return to normal after you stop using drugs or alcohol.
The first goal is safety, so you will be monitored and treated for any potentially dangerous medical issues. The second goal is comfort, and any unpleasant symptoms will be alleviated as much as possible.
The nature of your addiction treatment will depend on a variety of factors, but your treatment will generally adapt to your specific needs. Factors that affect the type of treatment you receive in treatment can include:
Different drugs have different effects during withdrawal, which means they require different medications to treat. For instance, opioids cause flu-like symptoms, depressants cause an overactive nervous system, and stimulants cause depression and psychological symptoms. All need a unique approach to treat them effectively.
Using more than one kind of drug is common, especially among recreational users. If you’ve become dependent on multiple drugs at once, your treatment plan will need to adapt to multiple types of withdrawal symptoms.
Injuries, diseases, and medical complications that your enter treatment will need to be addressed. Addiction can cause medical complications, but it also can lead you into other issues such as intravenous drug use diseases. For treatment to be successful, all medical needs have to be met.
Some drugs, like methamphetamine (meth for short), can take a psychological toll that can be treated in detox. Symptoms like anxiety and depression are common in medical detox and can be addressed when necessary. Depression and anxiety have close relationships with addiction and are often underlying issues that cause substance use disorders.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has a set of six criteria that are used to place people in the right level of care for their specific needs. The first three are used to determine a person’s need for medical detox. They include acute intoxication or withdrawal potential, biomedical complications, and psychological complications. Someone who has pressing needs in any of these three areas will probably be placed in a higher level of care like detox.
If you’ve been using potentially addictive psychoactive drugs and are wondering if you need detox treatment services, there are several warning signs that your drug use is becoming a physical dependence.
First, you may feel a growing tolerance to the drug, and you may need to take more to achieve the same psychoactive effects. If you escalate your drug use to make up for your tolerance level, you will increase your risk of becoming physically dependent.
One of the clearest signs that you’ve become physically dependent is using drugs to maintain a sense of normalcy, rather than recreation. You may start using drugs or alcohol alone, apart from a social atmosphere. Withdrawal symptoms are another clear sign that drug use is becoming dependence.
If you cut back or stop using and experience uncomfortable symptoms, or if you try and fail to quit because of those symptoms, that indicates a physical dependence.
If you’ve become dependent, the type of drug also will indicate the urgency of your need for detox. Stimulants cause uncomfortable psychological symptoms, opioid withdrawal mimics the flu and can become dangerous if you become dehydrated, and depressants like alcohol can cause dangerous nervous system overactivity.
All can be treated, but it’s incredibly important for you to seek treatment if you want to stop using depressants like alcohol or benzodiazepines.
Medical detox is about meeting your most pressing needs, including ones not related to withdrawal or drug dependence. Active addiction can lead a person to a variety of medical issues and complications, and it’s common for people to enter treatment programs with injuries and infectious diseases.
But it’s also possible for you to enter addiction treatment with medical conditions that predate your substance use disorder altogether. In some cases, conditions such as chronic pain can be an underlying cause for the development of a substance use issue.
For treatment to be effective, all of your biggest needs should be taken into account any medical concerns should be treated. At California Highlands, we follow Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which considers basic needs like physiological needs and safety to be critically important. When you enter detox, those needs will be met first, even if that involves a medical condition that’s not related to addiction.
The length of time you spend in detox will depend on your specific needs, but it generally lasts for about a week. In some circumstances, it could last for about two weeks. The presence of other medical issues also can cause treatment to last a bit longer. But when your condition is stabilized, and you no longer need constant care from medical professionals, you may be moved to a lower level of care like medical monitoring or clinical monitoring.
Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that are used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Depressants can cause potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Benzos can help wean you off of the drug without experiencing severe reactions like seizures and delirium tremens. However, benzos can also be obtuse, causing addiction and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. In detox, benzos should be used carefully and with guidance from your doctor.
Acamprosate is also used to treat alcohol addiction. The drug is used to ease some of the physical and psychological symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Acamprosate was used around the world for decades, but it was only recently approved for use in the United States in 2004. It has shown to alleviate alcohol cravings when paired with addiction therapy.
Methadone is sometimes used to skip the withdrawal and detox phase altogether. Methadone is an opioid that’s used to stop opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms in people who are addicted. In some cases, methadone is taken for indefinite periods of time. However, it can also be used in conjunction with addiction treatment and then taper off later. Unfortunately, methadone can also cause addiction and intense withdrawal symptoms. Some report that methadone withdrawal is harder to get through than other opioids.
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Buprenorphine is another opioid that’s used to treat opioid use disorders. However, unlike methadone, it’s a partial opioid agonist, which means that it has weaker effects than other opioids. It also has an effects ceiling, which means that it reaches a point where its effects won’t get any more intense with a high dose. That makes it less likely to cause dangerous overdose symptoms, and it’s hard to reach a euphoric high with buprenorphine. It’s used to avoid withdrawal until after you’ve gone through treatment, then it’s tapered off slowly.
Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, an opioid antagonist that’s used to reverse opioid overdoses. Suboxone is used in a way that’s similar to buprenorphine alone, but the naloxone helps to make Suboxone more difficult to abuse. When the drug is taken as directed (under the tongue), the naloxone can’t make it into the bloodstream to become active, and buprenorphine is only able to treat symptoms. If the drug is injected to make buprenorphine more potent in order to achieve a high, the naloxone becomes active and blocks opioids from binding.
Addiction is a chronic disease that’s challenging to get over on your own. It’s characterized by compulsive drug use despite serious consequences like health problems and strained relationships. Addiction also progresses. That means that even if it seems like you have it under control now, it may soon start to take over different parts of your life.
If you are someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, there is help available to lead you to long term sobriety. Medical detox can help you overcome chemical dependency, and the subsequent levels of care in addiction treatment can help you address underlying issues at the root of your problem.
To take the first steps toward freedom from active addiction, learn more about addiction treatment and medical detox services today.
American Society of Addiction Medicine. (n.d.). American Society of Addiction Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.asam.org/resources/the-asam-criteria/about
Mason, B. J., & Heyser, C. J. (2010, March). Acamprosate: a prototypic neuromodulator in the treatment of alcohol dependence. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2853976/
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, February). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, March 06). Prescription CNS Depressants. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-cns-depressants
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018, April 4). Opioid Overdose Reversal with Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/opioid-overdose-reversal-naloxone-narcan-evzio
RxList. (2018, February 2). Buprenorphine (Buprenex): Side Effects, Dosages, Treatment, Interactions, Warnings. Retrieved from https://www.rxlist.com/consumer_buprenorphine_buprenex/drugs-condition.htm