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Medical Detox


The first step in addiction treatment is detoxification, often referred to as “detox.” Patients being treated for addiction must first remove the substance from their body, so that they can fully participate in the important therapies that will help them recover. However, the severe withdrawal symptoms that occur when the substance is withheld, can undermine the motivation for treatment. Inpatient treatment programs in North Carolina can provide medical detox that uses specific medications to help relieve severe symptoms.

What is Alcohol/Drug Detox?

Using substances such as alcohol and drugs, causes changes in the brain that disrupt normal chemistry. The brain loses its ability to produce normal “feel good” neurotransmitter chemicals on its own. The addictive substance must be withheld in order to allow the brain chemistry to return to normal. Unpleasant withdrawal symptoms may occur during this process. Medical detox uses specific drugs to relieve these symptoms to make detox easier.

Dangers of Detoxing at Home

Many individuals try to detox on their own at home, but this can be a risky process. If the addiction is long-standing, the withdrawal symptoms can be extreme. The individual may be faced with seizures, heart rate irregularities, hallucinations or psychotic reactions, which may require an emergency trip to the hospital. Medical detox in an inpatient facility can prevent these upsetting incidents, and the patient can be monitored closely throughout the process.

Types of Detox Programs

Detox programs can be either medical or non-medical. Medical detox provides drugs to relieve withdrawal symptoms, as well as other procedures that the patient may require during detox. Non-medical detox uses vitamin supplements, massage, acupuncture and other therapies to relieve symptoms during the detoxification process.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Meth withdrawal – Patients may become anxious, agitated, unable to sleep or will sleep for long periods, will have vivid dreams, have suicidal thoughts, and go into psychosis.
  • OxyContin withdrawal – Patients withdrawing from opiates experience chills, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, confusion, and possible seizures.
  • Alcohol withdrawal – Patients experience headaches, anxiety, tremors of the extremities, nausea, vomiting, heart rate irregularities, and hallucinations.
  • Heroin withdrawal – Patients experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, joint pain, chills, fatigue, and possible seizures.

Medications Used in Treatment Programs

Addiction research has provided information on the value of certain medications for reducing withdrawal symptoms during detox, to help patients be ready for therapy:

Suboxone – Suboxone is used to relieve withdrawal symptoms from opiate abuse and to block the effects of opiates if they are used.

Methadone – Methadone helps heroin and prescription opiate users deal with withdrawal symptoms. It also helps to reduce cravings that can lead to relapse.

Naltrexone – Naltrexone helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings in patients with heroin and prescription pill dependence.

Antabuse – Antabuse is a medication used for alcohol addiction that deters relapse. When taken with alcohol, it makes the patients feel very sick.

Neurontin – Neurontin is an anti-convulsive drug that has been found to be helpful for marijuana and methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms.

Bupropion – This drug is used to relieve withdrawal symptoms from cocaine and methamphetamine use.

Detox and Relapse

Although detox is critical to beginning treatment, it can also cause intensified cravings for the substance, which can derail the individual’s desire to continue. Medical detox can help to reduce these severe cravings, so that the patient can continue the therapies that will help them overcome their dependence on the substance.

Benefits of Residential Treatment Programs

Residential treatment can offer patients the option of medical detox to help them through the detox process. It also offers around-the-clock monitoring of patients, so that severe detox reactions can be managed immediately. After detox, the patients can immediately begin their treatment program, without any risk of relapse that might interfere with their progress.

If you have tried to quit using drugs or alcohol and experience severe withdrawal symptoms, contact a treatment center in North Carolina to learn how medical detox can help you overcome your addiction.