Types of Drug Detox

By James F Davis

There are 4 primary types of drug
detox available for addicts and
alcoholics to achieve the initial
stages of sobriety. This includes
the cold turkey method,
specialised detox centres,
medical detox facilities and rapid
detox centres. Each type of drug
detox has its own benefits and
pitfalls that people seeking to recover from addiction
should understand before they decide which treatment
option is right for them.

Cold Turkey Drug Detox

This type of detox is also called "natural detox" and
essentially consists of an addict or alcohol undergoing
the stages of acute withdrawal in a private setting with
little or no assistance or care. Unfortunately, the chances
of successfully breaking the initial stages of acute
withdrawal syndrome are small with this method, and
most addicts will return to their drug of choice before they
have reached a critical mass in their recovery efforts.

Despite its propensity for failure, quitting cold turkey isn't
dangerous if the substance in question is fairly benign
such as marijuana or mild opiates addiction. However,
some substance addictions can lead to life-threatening
symptoms of AWS in the event of sudden cessation. The
three most dangerous of these substances are alcohol,
barbiturates and benzodiazepines; all of which can lead
to seizures, respiratory and/or cardiac arrest, coma and
in rare cases, death.

Regardless of the substance of abuse, most experts do
not recommend natural detox as the chances for success
are significantly impaired.

Specialised Drug Detox Centres

Specialized detox centers provide inpatient style
treatment for up to 2 weeks. Patients receive an initial
evaluation which will be used to develop an
individualized treatment plan for the duration of their
stay. Because of the individual nature of these plans,
some detox patients will undergo treatment in just a few
days, while others will require a week or two. In many
cases these types of detox facilities work in conjunction
with longer-term treatment centers that patients can
automatically transfer to once they are past the acute
stages of withdrawal.

Specialized detox centers work because of the therapies
employed - such as individual and group counseling -
and because they effectively isolate the addict or alcohol
from people, places and things that could be triggers for
them to relapse.

Medical Detox

Medical detox is similar to a specialized detox center but
with a distinctly medical component. This can consist of
an on-site nurse or doctor, 24 hour monitoring and other
types of medically-oriented benefits. A medical detox
center can also help addicts to step-down their drug
usage in an effort to maintain medical safety and reduce
or eliminate symptoms of acute withdrawal.
Medical detox is often required by addicts that have
relapsed repeatedly, as subsequent attempts to get
clean result in more severe withdrawal symptoms that
last for a longer period of time. This is referred to as the
Kindling Effect and is a very real phenomenon that can
make it extremely difficult for people to get clean and
stay clean. A medical detox center can address these
issues expertly in a safe, relaxed and non-judgmental
environment.

Rapid Detox

Rapid detox refers to a type of medical-detox procedure
whereby the patient undergoes most of the symptoms of
withdrawal while unconscious. This is accomplished by
placing the patient into a medically-induced coma, then
administering a series of drugs that facilitates and
hastens the process of acute withdrawal. This spares
most patients the worst of the symptoms and allows
them to begin their treatment without the pain and
discomfort of a long period of withdrawal.

Unfortunately, rapid detox is a relatively new practice and
it's not well understood yet how successful it is from a
long-term treatment standpoint. Addicts considering this
method should consult with their primary physician prior
to speaking with a detox specialist.

Going through detox in a specialized or medical facility is
the best option for most addicts and alcoholics; not only
from a safety standpoint, but also because sequestering
an addict away from potential exposure to drugs or drug-
abuse triggers provides the best chance for lasting
recovery.
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