Detoxing by going “cold turkey” is both challenging and dangerous. With certain substances, it can even prove deadly. Medication-assisted treatment eases people through the withdrawal process. This way, their vital signs remain stable, the risk of physical damage is minimized, and the likelihood of relapse greatly declines. How detox plans are structured is different for each substance type and person. There’s no single method of medication-assisted treatment that’s guaranteed to work well for everyone. Instead, medication-assisted detox is always streamlined to reflect the needs and circumstances of the individual. Choosing to go where multiple modes of medication-assisted treatment are available will ensure that you’re able to get the needs-specific care you deserve.
Having access to multiple modes of medication-assisted treatment also gives patients the opportunity to choose detox methods that are in-line with their recovery goals. This is especially important for those who wish to remain at home during treatment and for those who haven’t had much success with specific detox methods before. People who’ve quit opioid drugs in the past but have had multiple relapse events may be reticent to try the same replacement drugs again. Multiple modes of treatment additionally mitigates common barriers to treatment such as medication allergies. If you’re currently shopping for a detox facility, it’s important understand the many different ways in which detox can be performed. For many highly addictive substances, it isn’t necessary to muster your way through this process using supported abstinence alone.
What Are the Different Modes of Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Starting recovery is always intimidating. For people who have never gotten help before, the first several weeks can seem like a looming trial that’s guaranteed to be fraught with withdrawal symptoms like:
- Excessive sweating
- Lack of focus
- Intense cravings
In reality, it doesn’t have to be. These symptoms are all distress signals that the body sends out when a drug of choice is taken away. Substance abuse alters the performance of the central nervous system’s (CNS) reward center by disrupting the production and distribution of “feel good” chemicals known as neurotransmitters. After months or years of heavy substance abuse, many neurotransmitters like gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) and dopamine aren’t being produced like they normally would. Some neurotransmitters misfire and are released in abundance, and others aren’t being released at all. Given that these chemicals are responsible for both elevating emotions and controlling various functions throughout the body, nearly all physiological systems struggle during prolonged periods of abstinence.
Some forms of medically assisted detox include medications that encourage the balanced production and release of key neurotransmitters, without providing the same feelings of euphoria and relaxation that are associated with intoxication or “being high”. Thus, they are not habit-forming. More importantly, they give the CNS ample opportunity to heal and to correct the functioning of its reward center. These forms of medically assisted detox work well for opioids, opiates, and alcohol.
Certain drugs are dangerous to stop outright. People must be effectively weaned off of them instead. This is the case with benzodiazepine medications which alter the production of neurotransmitters in a way that can result in respiratory suppression and even heart failure during unsupported abstinence. In these instances, patients continue to take increasingly smaller doses of the same medications that they’re receiving addiction treatment for, until their bodies relearn how to function without them. With a benzodiazepine detox, different medication types may be used than the ones that patients were initially prescribed or using in a maintenance capacity on their own to prevent the presentation of withdrawal symptoms.
It’s also often necessary for detox patients to receive medications for replacing benzodiazepine drugs to alleviate the symptoms that were initially being treated. For instance, if you were prescribed a benzodiazepine for panic attacks or heightened levels of anxiety, your detox will likely include another anti-anxiety medication, but one that is not habit-forming. These replacement medications do not have the immediate effects that benzodiazepines do, but they offer a more manageable and sustainable way of treating anxiety.
Rapid Detox Services
There are also rapid detox services that can be used to shorten the duration of withdrawal. These include intravenous flushes, targeted nutritional support, and medications that expedite the removal of addictive substances from the bloodstream and filter organs. The safety and efficacy of many rapid detox types are still being researched.
Medically Supported Abstinence
Drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and other stimulants don’t always cause severe physical withdrawal symptoms. However, they are known to cause problems like:
- Suicidal thoughts and ideations
- Lack of initiative and low motivation
In medically supported abstinence, replacement drugs are not given and weaning programs aren’t implemented. However, medications may still be used to promote mood balance, offer sleep support, and prevent hydration issues, nutritional deficiencies, or other like problems.
Medical Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
Just as replacement drugs may be used in benzodiazepine detox to treat the underlying symptoms of anxiety or panic, medical treatment is also available for those with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other co-occurring mental health issues. For people with both substance use disorder and an underlying mental health disorder, mood stabilizing drugs, anti-psychotic medications, anti-anxiety medications, and anti-depressants can be an invaluable part of treatment.
If you want to know more about the multiple modes of medication-assisted treatment or need help finding the right detox center near you, call us now at 833.970.2054.