Originally Posted @ NewBridge Recovery Blog
Stopping using drugs and alcohol is a life changing event. Working at an outpatient treatment center I have the benefit of talking to people who call and want to get sober. Many of them do not know about detox and others think it unnecessary. Another portion of patients are eager to find relief from the pains of withdrawals that detox can offer. Some patients don’t really require a medical detox. However, the reality is that most incoming patients need a medically assisted detox, whether they agree or not. Depending on the type of drug, withdrawals can be miserable, dangerous, and even fatal. Discover what type of drug/alcohol abuse demands a medical detox, like the services offered here at NewBridge.
The Dangers of Withdrawals
The level of danger of going through unassisted withdrawals varies with drug type. The symptoms of withdrawals and the negative effects produced also differ. Although typically not life-threating, one of the most painful and excruciating withdrawals is from opiates. Heroin and opiate users who stop using these drugs will experience a massive absence of dopamine, resulting in both physical and mental side-effects. Withdrawals from opiates has been described as flu-like symptoms, with vomiting, fever, shakes, and sweating.
The opiate user will also experience hopelessness, numbness, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. Drugs like cocaine and meth have less obvious withdrawal effects. Users often report feelings of fatigue and apathy, although it goes away quickly. The danger with withdrawal from stimulants is minimal. The more dangerous drugs to withdrawal from are benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and alcohol. These drugs can even result in seizures and death if stopped without medical detox. These class of drugs,
depressants, all work to slow down the central nervous system and GABA activity. This is why these drugs cause feelings of relaxation and drowsiness. When these drugs are stopped, the brain responds by rapidly increasing the activity in the central nervous system. Due to the deficiency of activity from abuse of depressants, the brain overstimulates without these drugs. The effects are shakes, anxiety, and more. The real risk of withdrawals from these type of drugs is the danger of having a seizure. By increasing activity in the brain to dangerous levels, the person is at risk of having a seizure and death. Getting medical detox for these drugs is of high importance. The quantity of substance abused and the frequency of use is an important consideration, but with depressants it is better to play it safe. Many alcoholics do not feel they need detox. However, if they have been daily drinkers for even a month, then their body will be at serious risk of seizures quitting alcohol. Binge drinkers are not at as much of a risk for seizures, but caution should be used.
Benefits of Detox
Detox programs, like those at NewBridge Recovery, offer the person quitting drugs and alcohol a wide range of benefits. First, detox offers the person the relief of physical withdrawal effects. By offering medical assistance and tapering from the drugs, the person is relieved of the awful side-effects of quitting drugs/alcohol. Also the mental stress, such as anxiety, depression, apathy, are lessened when detoxed medically. At NewBridge we give our patients medication to reduce anxiety and mental stress of withdrawals. Our patients are monitored and treated if any physical or mental problem arise during the crucial detox period. The chance of giving up and returning to using drugs or alcohol is very high without detox. The physical and mental pain becomes too great and the person seeks relief in drugs/alcohol. At NewBridge we seek to reduce relapse during detox by making our patients as pain-free and comfortable as possible. Results show that people who undergo a medical detox have a greater start on getting sober. Perhaps the most important benefit is the reduction of risk and fatality provided by medical detox. With a full-time nurse and two resident doctors, NewBridge is available to assist our patients in the case of medical emergency and also to prevent such a crisis from occurring. If you are considering stopping drugs or alcohol, please consult with NewBridge or another detox center before going ‘cold-turkey’. Outpatient service offer other benefits to someone trying to someone struggling with addiction.