Drug Detoxification: Stages, Types, Methods, What to do After Drug Detox

In a drug detoxification program efforts are made to make the person get rid of addiction. Some substitute medications like suboxone and methadone are injected into the person’s body for temporary relief. However with due course of time, the symptoms seems to decrease and helps the person to get rid of addiction like alcohol and drugs.

Common Symptoms After Drug Withdrawal

Drug detox is often accompanied by various withdrawal symptoms which occur as a result of lack of drug supply to the body. The commonly experienced drug withdrawal symptom are:

  • Mood Swings: Mood swings are very common after the withdrawal of drugs. Anxiety, irritability and restlessness are also very common.
  • Sleep Disturbance: The sleep cycle changes and one may turn into an insomniac. Even after being fatigued, insomnia is certain to happen.
  • Physical Problems: Some physical problems may also creep up like sweating, chills, tremors, nausea, vomiting, running nose, headache, restlessness and other symptoms are likely to be seen.
  • Craving for Drugs: The person would seriously crave for the drug that they are addicted to so that they may end the withdrawal sufferings.

Stages of Drug Detox

Stages of Drug Detox

The initial move towards sobriety for most in recuperation is detox, where the body is cleaned of the substances that are contaminating it. Detox, otherwise called detoxification, is the procedure which cleanses the chemicals from the body thus, allowing the patient to start their life afresh. The stages include:

Early Stage:

During the initial couple of hours, symptoms will be general and hence, one needs to be gentle with them. If the symptoms worsen immediately as the effects of the drugs in the body diminish, one may reach the peak of experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Peak Stages:

As the side effects are at their pinnacle, people might experience tremendous amount of withdrawal effects. By this point, majority of the drugs have left the patient’s body due to detoxification, making it incapable to work properly.

Weakening Stage:

As the body gradually slowly becomes familiar with the absence of drugs in its systems, withdrawal symptoms slowly start to wean off. This generally starts after a couple of days from the first day of detox and between 7 days.

Last Stage of Drug Detox:

This stage starts between 5 to 14 days after detox starts. Inpatients are equipped for going back home and continue outpatient treatment for drug detoxification

Types of Drug Detox

  • Outpatient Detox Program: This type of detox program is only suggested to a patient when the severity of addiction and its symptoms are less and the person is not having any co-morbid mental health condition. The patient needs to come for regular consultations with the doctor and need to take the prescribed medicines properly and the patient is allowed to consult the medical team whenever needed.
  • Inpatient Drug Detox Program: The type of detox program is the one that is prescribed most often. An extensive care is provided to the patient in a rehab or hospital, or in a residential environment where the patient is kept under observation. This method is beneficial as compared to others since during an emergency, a team of doctors is always available to handle the situation.
  • Opioid Detox Program: This method of detoxification is quite different from the other drug detox methods. In this program, FDA approved drugs like bulprenorphine and methadone are given to the patient in order to stabilize them.
  • Counselling: Group counselling and individual counselling has proven to be an effective treatment during drug detox. The patient has to undergo regular counselling to change their perception and thought processes. This helps to keep the patient motivated to change their lifestyle, indulge into several activities and get into some productive work.

Methods of Drug Detox

Generally, there are three types of drugs detox and each of them may not suit everyone and hence, the detox program needs to carefully planned to cater to the individual’s needs. The type of drugs detox that the patient would get depends on the type of drug abused, the period of usage, combined chemicals etc. The drug detox programs are as follows:

Cold Turkey Detox:

In this method of drugs detox, the patient must abstain from any type of drugs and alcohol. No medical supervision or medication is given and the person experiences all the withdrawal symptoms. In these cases, the pain and craving could be intense. This type of drugs detox is provided specifically to people with specific combination of drug addiction. This can last from a week to two in a row.

Short Term Medicated Drug Detox Program:

People under this treatment have to abstain from any type of drugs and alcohol for a period of time. After the withdrawal symptoms creeps up, they are given a short term medication assistance to get temporary relief from the withdrawal symptoms and the pain.

Long Term Medicated Drug Detox Program:

To treat use of opioids like cocaine, the patient needs to be administered long term medicated detox program. The doctor decides to fix up an amount of medicine necessary to overcome the withdrawal symptoms. With the course of time, the drug doses are decreased and then they are withdrawn to make the patient drug free.

The overall duration for the drug detox depends upon many factors. These methods are the tools to help one out. The time taken by them to end the program depends upon the dosage of drugs, combination of drugs abused and of course how much can the patient cooperate with the doctors. Another aim of drug detox is to prepare the patient for next level of psychiatric treatment. This must be noted that drug detox is not always successful in one attempt. Multiple attempts are also used and continued until the expected results are obtained.

Rapid and Ultra Rapid Detox

Rapid drug detox program is given to people who want to recover faster. Though the symptoms are intense and intolerable but the results are quick. To avoid withdrawal effects of drug, this method is used. The patient is administered with anesthesia that replaces the drug. People who are addicted to opioids like heroine and painkillers can take this treatment. However, it is quite risky and the after effects outweigh the benefits.

The ultra-rapid treatment is the most advanced type of drug detox program and it takes only a few hours to complete the process. 1 out of 500 people are unable to take it and die. Even the insurance companies do not cover such treatment plans.

Drug detox is the first step of leaving addiction and is just a part of the whole process. There are several steps followed by drug detox. It helps the patient only to leave the addiction for that time but cannot assure that the patient will never be addicted to it again in future. Thus, to make the person ready for detoxification, they must be given assistance and counseling followed by drug detox. This counseling makes the person firm in his believe. Until and unless the person is ready mentally, his abstinence from the drugs cannot be assured. This is because of the fact that until we are emotionally balanced we may get pursued due to the environmental factors and other social factors.

Factors Governing Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

There are multiple factors which might influence the kinds, intensity and duration of withdrawal symptom that one would experience. These are:

Length of Drug Addiction:

Regular intake of drugs for extended periods of time will result in more severe symptoms of drug withdrawal like restlessness, anxiety, violence, pain, depression etc.

Combination of Drug Used to Determine the Severity of Withdrawal Symptoms:

The extent of withdrawal symptoms also depends upon the types of drugs used. The withdrawal symptoms of drugs and alcohol combination are longer than either of them.

Drug Doses During Drug Detox Program:

For patients who were extended abusers of drugs and alcohol is given higher doses of drugs to get the desired results and thus the withdrawal symptoms are worse in these cases.

Mental and Physical Ailment and its Influence on Drug Detox:

If the person is mentally ill, suffering from depression, anxiety and at the same time has some physical ailments then the pain is going to increase after the withdrawal of drugs.

What To Do After Drug Detox?

Rehabilitation center helps you with the rest of the process of drug detox program. There are several teams of doctor in the rehabilitation center who looks after the patient throughout the day. Rehabilitation center has various programs designed like the outpatient program, inpatient program, resident program etc. These programs are designed according to the need of the patient. Once the detox program is completed, the patient is asked to continue with counselling and therapy to maintain the abstinence state and gain self-confidence. It also helps in re-starting the life all over again.

There are many support groups that can help one out in this process. There are many experienced people as members who can assist through the rehabilitation process.

This would help you to keep yourself in a safe environment. Thus, rehabilitation is as important as drug detox.

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 11, 2019

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