Medical Detox

Last Updated on November 16, 2023
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Writer: Adam Zagha
Clinical Reviewer: Ariana Gravanis

Drug overdose fatalities in the US have been nearing 1 million since 2000. It's alarming to find out that for that decade, the death toll continuously increases as more and more people are vulnerable and exposed to various types of drug addiction.

The experts at NUMA Recovery Centers understand this critical issue and are here to shed light on what can be done for those people who wish to seek medical detox and attain sobriety for good. Continue reading to learn more.

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Medical Detox Explained

Medical detoxification is a process that allows patients to withdraw safely from drugs and alcohol. It can be done in a hospital or at home, depending on the patient's needs and the severity of their addiction.

Its goal is to make sure your body doesn't experience any critical withdrawal symptoms during the process. This is especially important if you are using opioids (like heroin) or alcohol, which can cause severe physical symptoms when you stop taking them suddenly without medical supervision. It can also help prevent relapse by helping you understand what causes cravings and how to avoid them.

Additionally, medical detoxing is important because it ensures that you don't go through any fatal or severe physical effects while recovering. Some of those may involve comatose or sudden death. Together with the help of your medical provider and consulting physician, you can work on identifying key points that may hasten your recovery.

Detoxing may tend to become a tedious process for most people, but with the proper guidance and support of rehabilitation experts and loved ones, you can achieve full and long-term sobriety.

When Should I Medical Detox?

Medical detox is highly recommended for anyone who may be experiencing or is currently in the following situations:

  • You have been abusing or misusing drugs or alcohol for a long time and feel like quitting cold turkey isn't an option anymore.

  • You have had a history of substance abuse or addiction that resulted in physical withdrawal symptoms.

  • You have been on a medically supervised detox program before and feel like you need to go back to it again.

  • You have tried to quit using drugs or alcohol before and failed because you were unprepared for the physical effects of withdrawal.

  • Your drug misuse has severely affected your body in numerous ways and now it's having complications due to your substance abuse.

  • Your relationships with people around you (your friends and family) are currently strained due to your drug abuse.

  • Your academic and work performance has suffered vastly due to your inability to function because of drug abuse.

  • Drug use negatively impacted your mental health which may complicate your condition, leading to the development of newer mental health issues.

  • You have been misdiagnosed and have taken the wrong prescription medication long-term which needs immediate medical supervision.

List of Typical Drugs for Medical Detox

Experiencing addiction or drug misuse from any of the following substances may require further assessment and evaluation from rehabilitation specialists. Once this has been properly and thoroughly identified, treatment would follow right away.

The following substances have been identified to require treatment to avoid any potential severe withdrawal and long-term physical and psychological effects on an individual.

Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerful drug that can have devastating effects on the body. It's a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, which controls and regulates many of our body's vital functions.

Cocaine stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in pleasure, reward, motivation, and movement. This is how cocaine creates the "high" that users feel when they use it. However, repeated use of cocaine can lead to tolerance and dependence—meaning that users have to take more and more of it to achieve the same effects.

Over time, this can lead to serious health problems such as:

  • cardiovascular disease,

  • stroke and heart attack;

  • respiratory failure;

  • seizures;

  • memory loss;

  • hallucinations;

  • paranoia;

  • anxiety;

  • depression;

  • damage to blood vessels in your brain (which may lead to bleeding in the brain);

  • death from overdose or heart failure.

Marijuana

Marijuana is a dried and shredded part of the hemp plant, which contains a chemical called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The most common way to use marijuana is by smoking it, but it can also be eaten.

When someone smokes or eats marijuana, THC enters the bloodstream and goes to the brain. There, it mimics chemicals that produce pleasurable feelings in the brain.

If you smoke marijuana frequently, you may develop problems with short-term memory and concentration, as well as a decrease in motivation and decision-making skills. You also might have trouble sleeping soundly at night due to heavy coughing fits caused by smoking cigarettes during the day while high on marijuana.

Alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant. It is a substance that slows down the central nervous system, which controls all of your bodily functions. Alcohol also affects the brain, which controls your moods and behaviors.

When you drink alcohol, it goes from your stomach into your bloodstream and then to every cell in your body. The body processes it as a poison—and for good reason. Alcohol is toxic because it can cause severe damage to the liver, pancreas, and other organs. It also impairs judgment and coordination, which makes it easier for people to get hurt or hurt others when they are under the influence of alcohol.

Heroin

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that can be smoked, snorted, or injected. It is made from morphine, which is a naturally occurring compound found in the opium poppy. When heroin is abused, it causes the brain to release dopamine—a chemical that makes us feel good after we do something rewarding. This results in intense euphoria and relaxation

It affects every organ system in your body by acting as a depressant on your central nervous system and interfering with normal communication between cells within your body's systems—such as those that control breathing and heart rate.

Amphetamine

Amphetamine is a stimulant drug that is used for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy. It can also be taken recreationally, where it can produce feelings of euphoria, increase energy levels, and suppress appetite.

The effects of amphetamine include increased heart rate and blood pressure, as well as decreased appetite and sleepiness. If you take amphetamine repeatedly over time, it can cause serious medical problems like a heart attack or stroke.

Typical Expectations for Medical Detox

Just like with any medically-assisted detox, such as opioid detox, an individual may have certain expectations resulting from a medical detox program. Here are some of the things that you could typically expect as you enter a medical detoxification program:

Medical detoxification might be painful

The first thing people might expect when they go into medical detoxing is that it will be painful. While it will be painful, it's not going to last forever. The pain is usually only temporary—and it's worth it. After all, you're working on getting clean and sober so that you can live a better life. That takes some hard work and determination, but it's well worth it.

Family and friends may abandon you once you go through medical detoxification

Another thing someone might expect when they go into medical detoxing is that their family and friends will abandon them. This isn't true either: most people who support their loved ones through this process stay by their side throughout the entire process. They know how much work goes into getting clean and sober—and they want to help make sure that their loved ones succeed at staying clean and sober once they've reached their goal.

You might relapse after undergoing medical detoxification and addiction treatment

Someone going through medical detoxing might also expect that they'll never be able to get clean again if they relapse during that period. This is another myth. There are many different types of treatment options available for people who relapse during their recovery efforts—and these options can help prevent future relapses from happening again as well.

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Withdrawal Symptoms to Expect

If you undergo any supervised medical detoxification programs for drug or alcohol use, such as heroin detox, it is expected that you may feel or experience certain physical and psychological symptoms that may challenge you into continuing your addiction treatment.

As such, the medical detox process may become disheartening for any individual whether they may opt for inpatient detox or even outpatient detox. The good thing is that any modern and well-equipped detox facility can handle patients who may undergo substance withdrawal syndrome properly.

Meantime, let's look at the following physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that one might experience during their medical detox program.

Physical symptoms of withdrawal:

  • Body aches

  • Diarrhea (or constipation)

  • Headache

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Rapid heartbeat and pulse rate

  • Shaking and trembling

Psychological symptoms of withdrawal

  • Restlessness, anxiety, and irritability

  • Insomnia or hypersomnia

  • Anxiety and panic attacks

  • Severe depression

  • Mood swings

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

  • Nightmares or vivid dreams

  • Negative thinking and suicidal thoughts

How Long Does Medical Detox Take?

The length of time it takes to complete a medical detox varies from person to person and depends on several factors including:

  • the type of drug you were using (some are harder to get off than others)

  • how long you've been using drugs or alcohol (the longer the better)

  • your overall health (if you're healthy, it might be faster)

  • whether or not you've taken other medications during your addiction (this could slow down your recovery)

As a general rule of thumb, however, it will take about 3 weeks for an individual to fully recover from drug addiction.

The first two weeks are typically the most intense and are spent under close supervision by medical professionals. During this time, withdrawal symptoms may occur as the body adjusts to its new state of sobriety.

After these initial two weeks have passed and most of these initial symptoms have subsided, many people still need additional support to maintain long-term sobriety. This is where inpatient treatment and detox centers can come into play by providing a safe environment where individuals can learn how to live without drugs or alcohol and receive counseling services when needed or desired.

Is Medical Detoxification Safe?

While medical detox is considered a safe practice for anyone who wishes to recover from substance abuse, it is not for everyone. There is no one-size-fits-all approach in terms of treatment.

It is an intervention that helps treat withdrawal symptoms while the patient remains in an inpatient setting. The process involves administering medications that help reduce cravings and alleviate symptoms of withdrawal.

When undergoing this process, it is imperative to note that medical detoxification does not address the underlying issues that cause addiction. Instead, it treats the symptoms of addiction while the patient remains in an environment where they can be closely monitored by medical professionals.

This allows individuals to experience addiction recovery without being exposed to high doses of drugs or alcohol on their while enrolled in detox programs under a detox center.

What Happens After a Medical Detox?

After medical detox, you'll be released to a recovery center where you can recover in a safe environment.

When you're ready to leave the recovery center, you'll likely enter an outpatient program to help you transition back into daily life. This program is designed to help you manage any mental health conditions or substance use disorders that you may have struggled with in the past.

You may also be enrolled in an aftercare or post-detox process, where you get to work with support groups, mental health counselors, and other post-detoxification services accredited by a mental health services administration body to make for a smoother transition.

It may also provide support for other crucial issues such as homelessness, unemployment, and chronic illness.

How Do I Find a Medical Detox?

People who wish to seek treatment for drug abuse and mental health disorders may do so with detox centers and assistive recovery facilities such as NUMA Recovery Centers.

Our team specializes in alleviating substance dependence by enforcing evidence-based behavioral therapies backed by a holistic approach as we help treat addiction. We specialize in opioid detox, heroin detoxification, and alcohol rehab by giving the appropriate substance abuse treatment program that is tailor-made for your condition.

You can reach out to our Rehabilitation Counselors at NUMA to learn more about our substance use disorder and alcohol addiction treatment plan. Let's fight drug or alcohol addiction together. Contact us today.

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Writer
Adam Zagha
Adam Zagha is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Los Angeles with over a decade of experience in addiction treatment and recovery. He holds a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology and is certified in EMDR therapy, CBT, DBT, and ACT. Prior to Numa Recovery Centers, Adam was CFO and the Director of Clinical Outreach at Transcend Recovery Community. Adam is committed to providing top-quality care to individuals seeking treatment for addiction and mental health issues. He also provides trainings and workshops on addiction, mental health, and mindfulness.
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About Numa
Numa Recovery Centers is a leading drug and alcohol detox and rehab company based in Los Angeles, providing evidence-based treatment for substance abuse and addiction. With a team of experienced professionals, Numa offers a comprehensive range of personalized services to help clients overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery.
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    Numa Recovery Centers is a comprehensive drug and alcohol detox and rehab facility in Los Angeles, California dedicated to helping individuals overcome addiction and achieve lasting recovery. Our team of experienced professionals provides individualized care and support to address the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of those struggling with substance abuse.
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