Deciding to get off drugs and excessive amounts of alcohol is a very good thing. Determining that you will go to rehab to learn to live a clean and sober life again is advisable. The person who makes these decisions should do just as he or she has decided. But for some people, there may be another step they have to take before they walk in the front door of that any drug rehab. And that step is a medical detox.
When some drugs have been taken heavily enough, they create such a significant dependence in the body that simply ceasing consumption of the substance can be dangerous, even fatal. For these people, the path to sobriety must start with a medical detox.
While some medical detox services are in hospitals and others are in medical centers more similar to drug rehab centers, they do the same general actions. A person coming off certain drugs is constantly monitored. Some drugs are stepped down gradually. For other drugs, they are stopped on entry to the medical detox but other medications are used to control the effects of withdrawal. This is needed just to make the withdrawal symptoms tolerable enough for a person to successfully get off the drugs. If withdrawal symptoms are too severe, the addict may give up and return to drug use.
Careful supervision is also needed to prevent life-threatening effects such as high fevers and seizures, and control any hallucinatory states or delirium.
A medical detox does not remove all toxins from the body. It only gets a person safely to the other side of serious withdrawal symptoms so they can proceed to rehab.
Everyone is different. The need for medical detox totally depends on how much of a substance a person has been abusing, for how long. Some alcoholics can walk right into a rehab and stop drinking but others would quite literally die if they tried it. Alcohol withdrawals can include seizures, fever and delirium in severe cases of heavy, constant alcohol consumption. Those seizures can be serious enough to kill. So the determination to do a medical detox before rehab always depends on a competent medical examination.
Barbiturates are sedatives and hypnotics used to alleviate anxiety and to sedate a person for surgical procedures. The type of barbiturates most commonly abused are amobarbital (trade named Amytal), pentobarbital (trade named Nembutal) and secobarbital (Seconal). A combination of amobarbital and secobarbital is trade named Tuinal and is frequently abused as well. If a person is addicted to barbiturates and stops taking them, the results can be anxiety, dizziness, seizures, psychosis, hyperthermia, circulatory failure and death.
Medical detox of methadone is often a necessity. Since methadone is often administered over a very long period of months and years, those taking the drug often build up a tolerance and doses increase to high levels. Withdrawal from methadone is normally done on a gradual basis to prevent withdrawal symptoms that can be twice as bad as those of heroin withdrawal. Those withdrawing from methadone also frequently need medical support to handle symptoms such as pain and nausea to make the withdrawal tolerable enough to get through it.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be similar in effects to alcohol withdrawal or barbiturate withdrawal. There can be anxiety, irritability, insomnia, seizures and severe mental disturbances. One serious side effect of withdrawing suddenly from benzodiazepines is suicide.
- Ref: Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome
- Ref: Barbiturates
- Ref: What is Medical Drug or Alcohol Detox?
Ironically, both barbiturates and benzodiazepines may be used to manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. But they are used for a short term only, in this situation.
Medical detoxes can often be completed within a couple of weeks, depending, of course, on the severity of the addiction, the magnitude of the dosage and health of the individual.
Narconon is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. It is not a medical detox service nor can it be. The name NARCONON means NARCOTICS-NONE. No drugs are ever given as part of a Narconon drug recovery program. (If a person needs medication for a physical condition, they would of course continue to take this medication during their rehabilitation.)
At the same time, a medical detox is not a drug rehab program. For people with a dependence on drugs, it is just the first step in their recovery. After a medical detox is complete, they must move on to a Narconon drug and alcohol recovery program to repair the damage to their abilities to communicate and perceive their surroundings. They must regain the ability to think clearly, to be able to confront and manage their own lives to stay drug-free. And that takes the eight phases of the Narconon drug rehabilitation program.
Without restoring a recovering addict's self-respect and alleviating their guilt, without teaching them how to make drug-free decisions, it is difficult or impossible for them to stay sober on a lasting basis. A medical detox only makes it possible to start a holistic drug rehab program such as the one delivered by Narconon centers on six continents.