Chemical Dependence: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Types & Stages of Chemical Dependency Detoxification Program

What is Chemical Dependence ?

Chemical dependency is a chronic disease in which a person becomes addicted to drugs and alcohol or any other type of addictive agents. This can be a nightmare for the person going through such condition. This is because the person remains in a dilemma of getting rid of such addiction but actually cannot. It is not that the victim does not want to get rid of addiction but because the body becomes so dependent on the chemical or the addictive substance that he is unable to resist his emotions. Therefore the disease is named chemical dependency.

Potential Causes of Chemical Dependence

The cause of chemical dependence can be from varied sectors of life. Some of the causes include:

  • School and college students start using chemical out of curiosity. However, since it’s very early in life and their will power might not be so strong, hence, they may get addicted at a very early stage. This may cause potent problem in the long run. The mental and psychological composition changes and becomes very rigid which is difficult to change at a later stage.
  • Indulging in a wrong peer group could be another reason for using chemicals and thus get dependent on it. Involving in a wrong friend circle also leads to such issues. The environment in which we live must be free from all such abuses or it can become a cause for chemical dependence.
  • Prolonged abuse from family either verbal or physical and unsocial environment at home may turn the child rebellious and may turn him towards a wrong path of addiction. He may use it to get rid of anxiety, frustration and family pressure.

Common Symptoms of Chemical Dependence

Generally, there are no such fixed symptoms of this condition. It differs from person to person. However, a few of them reported include:

  • Lying to the family about where they are going and what are they up to.
  • The person becomes too obsessive about alcohol or drugs.
  • The people around him may notice a complete shift in the personality of that person.
  • Losing importance of work and reduction of competitive nature.
  • Loss of interest in education, work and life goals.

How Can Chemical Dependency be Treated?

Chemical dependency can be treated with a proper detoxification program. In a chemical dependency detoxification program, efforts are made to make the person get rid of addiction. Some substitute medications like suboxone and methadone are injected in the person for temporary relief from the withdrawal symptoms. However with due course of time, the symptoms seems to decrease and helps the person to get rid of addiction like alcohol and drugs.

Types of Chemical Dependency Detoxification Program

The chemical detoxification program can be done in 3 ways depending on the kind of chemical abused, the duration of abuse, intensity of symptoms experienced, age etc. Depending on these factors, the healthcare professional would advise the program suitable for a particular person. The types of programs are as follows:

  • Outpatient Chemical Dependency Detox Program: This is a rarely suggested program. Those who are not severely taken away by addiction can enroll for such program. Regular check-up and consultation with the doctor is a part of the program. Medication is suggested over prescription and the patient is allowed to consult the medical team whenever needed.
  • Inpatient Chemical Dependence Detox Program: This is the most prescribed method of detoxing because this method adopts extensive care of the patient in a supervised environment or in a residential environment. The patients are kept under observation throughout the program. This method is beneficial also because during emergency the team of doctors is always there to see to any serious ailments.
  • Opioid Detox Program: This method of detoxification is quite different from the other methods. In this program, some new type of medication, suggested by FDA, are given to the patient. Some of the FDA approved drugs are bulprenorphine and methadone. These are given to the patient to stabilize them since the effects of opioid are quite intense.

Stages of Chemical Dependence Detoxification

Stage 1 of Detoxification: The initial phase of chemical dependence detoxification can be worst for a patient. He is introduced in a new environment working against his habits for the very first time. Thus his behavior becomes violent and aggressive. Some of the common symptoms that are shown after the first dose of medication are:

These symptom, though not serious, are enough to make a patient loose his temperament. A number of issues can come up within a few hours of starting a detoxification program. Thus, it is necessary to keep the patient under medical supervision of a psychiatrist. Some of the problems that may arise after the first dose are:

Psychosis: The patient may experience auditory and visual hallucination with delusional thinking.

Violence: It may be possible that the patient tries to harm others or hurt himself. Cathinone abusers are most likely to witness this. Patient who may harm others, require sedation or restraint.

Self-harm: Withdrawal from drugs and opioids may result in depression or nervous breakdown. Suicidal attempts and other self-abuse are possible to happen. Thus, the patient must be kept under observation and should be taken care of properly.

Stage 2: Chemical Dependency Counselling:

Group counselling and individual counselling has proven to be an effective treatment for chemical dependency. The person remains under observation of trained experts. He is guided to indulge into several activities to change his perception and keep him involved in some productive work. Regular counselling is done to improve the person’s thought process.

Resident Treatment for Chemical Dependence:

The patients are individually handled by experts in an isolated environment. Hospitalized environment is avoided and each patient is attended by the care takers and staffs. Counselling and other activities are done to help patient overcome this disease. Thus, it is only prescribed if the patient is mildly addicted and not severely addicted.

Outpatient Treatment for Chemical Dependence:

This type of treatment is given to those who are not severely affected by this disease. These may be working people serving in corporate, government sector or self-employed. They are indulged into vocational training, management tasks and other social activities to keep themselves occupied and thus distract themselves from the thought of using chemicals.


Chemical dependence is a growing problem in nearly most of the place. There is a need to understand the urgency of treatment in such cases. The symptoms of chemical dependency must not be neglected but should be acted upon at the earliest. The treatment at an early stage prevents the patient from going into chronic stages. Thus, they must be sorted as soon as the symptoms appear. The patient must have a firm belief in their own self and a bit of self-consciousness in such cases and proper healthcare with healthy eating habits also helps. There are various rehabilitation centres which provide detoxification programs.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 6, 2018

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