Medical detox is the process by which harmful drug toxins and residues are removed from the patient’s tissues, and their body allowed to naturally purify itself. As a result of this sudden absence of the person’s drug of choice, the body returns to its former state of equilibrium. After a protracted or intense period of drug abuse, this sudden return to homeostasis can cause a series of rigorous side effects, or withdrawal symptoms. Trained clinicians oversee the detox process from start to finish, and may use medication to ease the symptoms of withdrawal and ensure the patient’s safety and comfort.
The purpose of detox is twofold: to guarantee the patient’s safety and to prepare them for the next stage of treatment (rehabilitation, therapy, and counseling). The physical side effects of withdrawal can be painful, even lethal, if left unsupervised and untreated. Trained clinicians administer medications to ease symptoms and reduce the chances of relapse. Detox treats only the symptoms of physical dependency. It does nothing to address a person’s underlying psychological problems. Detox cleanses the system in preparation for a 45- to 90-day regimen of therapy from qualified medical professionals. To learn more about detoxification with NC Drug Rehab Charlotte, call our friendly representatives at (704) 961-9577.
How Detox Works
Detox is a holistic process. It doesn’t just cleanse the tissues and organs of drug residues. With the aid of medication, it can also help a person break free of cravings and physical dependencies which controlled his or her life. Drug addiction is something that’s learned, and reinforced by the neurotransmitters in the brain. Detox shuts down the “noise” emanating from the body’s dopamine receptors and allows the patient the mental breathing room they need to focus on more constructive pastimes. The mind and the body need time to readjust to a new life without the constant presence of alcohol or drugs. Then the latent psychological issues which caused the addiction in the first place can be confronted.
The Detox Process
For the purposes of this discussion, let’s take heroin as our example drug. While heroin withdrawal is not typically fatal, the symptoms are intense and unpleasant. Heroin is an opiate, a highly addictive substance to which human bodies rapidly build up tolerance. This tolerance creates drastic withdrawal symptoms when usage is stopped, including copious sweats, a feeling of anxiousness or depression, priapism, crying, sleeping difficulties, unstable bowels, aches and pains, and fever. Detox in the case of heroin withdrawal is used to ameliorate these symptoms. Drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine, which are themselves opiates (but far milder than heroin) are used to “step down” a person from their heroin addiction without incurring any withdrawal symptoms, while naltrexone blocks the opiates from stimulating the pleasure center in the brain. Opiate replacement therapy helps reduce cravings and rates of relapse safely while simultaneously re-training the brain to stop associating opiates with pleasure. ORT, however, is not therapy in and of itself. As with any other type of drug, a person requires therapy and counseling to fully remove themselves from the grip of addiction.