Home » Blog » What is Medical Detox?

What is Medical Detox?

What is medical detox? Detox is the process of ridding the body of harmful substances. The human body naturally filters toxic substances from the system and flushes them out while keeping what it needs. Although detox is natural, it can lead to various challenging and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. 

Detox is the first step of the rehab process and is critical to overall addiction recovery. Medical detox is the term used to describe medically assisted detoxification from drugs and alcohol. Compared to going “cold turkey” or another non-medical method of detox, medical detox takes place under the close supervision of medical professionals.

While it might be tempting to try detoxing alone without the support of a medical team, it’s tough, not safe, and potentially deadly. Medical detox with evidence-based therapies and prescription medications is safer, and withdrawal symptoms are more bearable when administered by medical professionals. 

Physical Dependency and Withdrawal

When drug and alcohol use is excessive, the body becomes accustomed to the chemicals. With continued use, a tolerance for the substances builds up in the system, requiring more to obtain the same effect. Eventually, the body becomes so used to drugs and alcohol that it doesn’t know how to function without them. A physical dependency has taken hold.

With a full-blown physical dependence on drugs and alcohol, the body expects these substances regularly. Without drugs or alcohol, the body begins withdrawals until one consumes more drugs and alcohol.

The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on a few factors:

  • Frequency of use (daily, weekly episodes, etc.)
  • Length of your addiction (weeks, months, years)
  • Your overall state of health
  • Types of substances used

Withdrawal symptoms from some substances might be different from others. Hard drugs like opioids or amphetamines can cause painful or deadly withdrawal symptoms. Hence, a medical detox is essential in this situation.

Some withdrawal symptoms are common regardless of the substances used. Common symptoms of withdrawal from drugs and alcohol include:

  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Irritability and outbursts of anger
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeping problems
  • Difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly
  • Sweaty or clammy feeling
  • Getting chills
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Changes in appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches and migraines

Many withdrawal symptoms are like being ill when the body fights to eliminate harmful infections. During detox, withdrawal symptoms are the body’s way of fighting to get healthy again. 

Without a medically assisted detox, withdrawal symptoms and severe relapse are more likely, thus continuing the wicked cycle of addiction. 

How Does Medical Detox Help?

With medical detox, withdrawal symptoms are much more manageable with less chance of relapse. Remember, addiction is a disease, and medical professionals treat diseases. 

Medical detox can help in the following ways:

  • Providing comfort for painful symptoms
  • Supporting your emotional well-being during your detox
  • Monitoring vital signs to make sure you are safe 
  • Testing for other medical issues associated with alcohol and drug abuse

For severe symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol, opioids, or other drugs, medical detox can help you with medication-assisted treatment (MAT). With MAT, medications help speed detox by curbing cravings and easing withdrawal symptoms.

How Medications Help During Medical Detox

The medications used during MAT can help one feel normal during the early stages of addiction treatment. Some medicines can help with the psychiatric symptoms of withdrawal. Other medications help one stay sober by easing potentially painful and distressing withdrawal symptoms. 

Some medications used for MAT include:

  • Benzodiazepine
    • Helps to manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
    • Effective at preventing seizures, which might occur with severe withdrawal symptoms.
    • Prescribed with caution for medical detox due to harmful interactions with opioids and alcohol.
    • Examples include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin.
  • Clonidine
    • Regulates high blood pressure, which is a common withdrawal symptom.
    • Can help with other symptoms, like agitation, anxiety, muscle cramps, and stomach aches.
  • Methadone
    • Used for withdrawal from opioids by providing a slow release of opioids into the system at a safe dosage.
    • Methadone does not get one high but helps regain normalcy by easing withdrawal symptoms.
  • Naltrexone
    • Blocks opioid receptors in the brain so one doesn’t feel high and relapse.
    • Used for both opioid and alcohol withdrawal.
  • Buprenorphine
    • Partial opioid agonist, which activates opioid receptors to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
    • Similar to methadone, buprenorphine is not as potent and has less potential for misuse.

Depending on symptoms, MAT might be helpful for a medical detox and in the early stages of recovery. Once patients are off medications, they learn to manage cravings and triggers without medications. 

How Long Does the Medical Detox Process Take?

Depending on the severity of withdrawal symptoms, most medical detox programs last about five days to two weeks as the body adjusts to no drugs or alcohol.

Medical Detox in Nashville

At Brentwood Springs Detox of Nashville, our compassionate, professional team understands the importance of the first phase of recovery treatment. We offer medical detox from drugs and alcohol, residential rehab, and aftercare for a full recovery. When you trust us to assist you, we’ll provide you with the treatments and tools you need to beat the disease of addiction once and for all. Contact us today to start your personalized, comprehensive treatment plan!

Medical Detox Process

    24/7 Help Is Standing By, Call Us Now.

    24/7 Help Is Standing By, Call Us Now.