An overview of withdrawal management and medical detox in Dallas
Withdrawal management or “medical detoxification”, as it’s sometimes known in Dallas rehab centers, is the process of helping someone quit drugs or alcohol by providing medical support to allow their body to expel any traces of drugs safely. Detox is most often followed up with therapy to prevent relapse improve the chances of long-term recovery.
Medical Detox is often the first step taken in treating serious substance use disorders. This is because most addictive substances can cause unpleasant or harmful withdrawal symptoms if someone quits them “cold turkey”.
Even people hooked on relatively mild drugs such as caffeine and nicotine can experience considerable discomfort if they stop abruptly or make no attempts to taper off their dosage. Without any medical intervention or therapy, the chances of relapse are extremely high as the user tries to battle withdrawal symptoms.
Broadly speaking, people who have alcohol or drug use disorders may experience similar or worse discomfort if they quit without proper medical supervision. In the case of many commonly misused substances such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids, long-time users of these substances may experience fatal withdrawal symptoms or an overdose upon relapse if their withdrawal isn’t managed correctly.
Recovery from substance use disorders is a complex and personal process, and medical detox is no different. It’s recommended that people who are interested in beginning the recovery process find a facility that specializes in their condition. North Texas residents can call Dallas Drug Treatment Centers at (214) 453-5663 to find facilities and clinicians experienced in treating specific alcohol and drug use disorders.
What is medical detox?
“Detox”, “Medical detox” or “medical detoxification” are some of the terms often used to describe the “withdrawal management” process. As mentioned earlier, withdrawal management is the process of helping a patient undergo withdrawal safely and comfortably by giving them needed medical and psychiatric support. Withdrawal management may involve prescribing replacement drugs, though this depends on the specific case.
Strictly speaking, detoxification only refers to the process where the body expels toxins such as drugs and alcohol. However, in a rehab and treatment setting, all terms are often used interchangeably to make communication between clinicians, recovering individuals, and their families simpler.
The “Three Steps of Detox”
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, there are three steps in every drug withdrawal management regime. The so-called “Three Steps of Detox” are as follows:
In this stage, physicians test patients for traces of drugs and other substances in their bodies. At the same time, psychiatrists evaluate them for co-existing substance use and mental health disorders.
This is an important part of the withdrawal management process, as it allows clinicians to thoroughly test patients before administering potentially dangerous medications. Cross-tolerant drug relationships and other complications can be avoided with a careful evaluation phase.
At this stage, patients who need them are given medications to help prevent potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the substance and extent of a substance use disorder, a range of medications may be required to alleviate symptoms and reduce the opportunity for relapse. Prescription opioids, benzodiazepines, and naltrexone may be recommended during this phase.
Individuals who have just started to recover from substance misuse will also often have malnutrition and other co-existing psychiatric disorders, which will need to be treated to prevent further harm.
Attending clinicians may recommend an inpatient or outpatient program, depending on the case. Patients with severe substance use disorders will likely need to complete this stage at an inpatient facility to prevent relapse and to allow them to be monitored for their safety.
3.) Preparation for further treatment
The last stage involves directing patients towards further treatment, with various psychotherapy and counseling programs available on a residential or outpatient basis. In most cases, therapy and counseling are important to help keep individuals from relapsing. This is because substance use disorders alter the brain’s reward pathways in response to a drug, with these changes remaining even after a patient has completed a medical detox program.
Unfortunately, it takes far more time for a person’s brain to heal from a substance use disorder than it does to expel traces of the drugs from their body. Without further therapy, a patient may take drugs again in an attempt to feel “normal”.
This can be deadly in cases where medical detox has successfully lowered a patient’s tolerance for their drug of choice. If the patient take a dose that they were accustomed to, they may experience a fatal overdose, as a result. For this reason, at least three months of cognitive therapy and counseling is cited as the bare minimum time needed for recovery.
Occasionally, extended drug replacement therapy might also be recommended, such as methadone treatment for opioid use disorders. In this case, this stage may take up to two years, depending on the patient’s progress.
Opioid misuse has become a serious problem in the Dallas-Forth Worth-Arlington area. Unlike many other misused substances, opioids are linked to fatal withdrawal symptoms, making it important for individuals with opioid use disorders to find specialized rehab and detox programs.
Prescription opioids like oxycodone and illicit opioids like heroin have a similar withdrawal syndrome, with early symptoms including the following:
- Muscle aches
- Restless leg syndrome
- Runny nose
Late symptoms of opioid withdrawal cases may include the following:
- Dilated pupils
- Abdominal cramping
The withdrawal syndrome from opioid drugs can be very extreme, with close attention from clinicians needed during the withdrawal management process. Once patients are stable, they can enter a rehabilitation program to receive behavioral therapy and counseling support to further improve their odds of a complete recovery.
Find detox and withdrawal management options in Dallas
Withdrawal management is a very personalized process. Thankfully, if you’re in North Texas, help is just a phone call away. If you or someone you love needs to undergo medical detox, Dallas Drug Treatment Centers can help you find rehab centers that meet your specific recovery needs. Dial (214) 453-5663 to start discussing your options.