Detox or detoxification is when you try to clear your body of alcohol or drugs. The reason why people find it hard to quit drugs is that their body gets hooked on them. Leaving them causes emotional and physical pain. It is so often that people revert to taking the substance.
Detoxification is performed to manage the withdrawal symptoms of an addict. Even though the process might be the same for everyone, the experiences are not. The drug being taken and how long the drug has been taken for will significantly affect each personal experience with detox. Sometimes medicine is also given to make the detox process more tolerable.
The timeline varies from person to person. It can take anything between a few days to months to completely cope with withdrawal symptoms. This time duration depends on the factors below.
Methods of Detoxification
There are two main detoxification methods:
- Cold Turkey
Tapering VS Cold Turkey
Tapering is a frequently used method in detoxification. Tapering means slowly reducing the amount of the drug a person is taking over time. This is because abruptly stopping taking drugs in most cases is dangerous. It is just like you wean off a baby. Take it slow and easy, and give it time. The tapering approach gives the human body time to adjust to lower doses of drugs. The cold turkey method can be applied when you reach a very low dose.
In the cold turkey method, you abruptly stop with the drug. In some cases, this works. But the withdrawal symptoms are hasher and difficult to fight. Going cold turkey with stronger substances can be life-threatening. You can experience severe symptoms like seizures, irregular heartbeat, and hallucinations.
Most experts don’t like this approach. The following substances are always stopped using the tapering method.
For stronger substances like heroin and even alcohol, you are given prescription drugs that have the same effect on the body as these. You have then tapered off these medicines and not the actual drug. All this is done to soften the withdrawal symptoms.
Generally, detoxification is a 3-step process. You must talk to a professional and get a customized detoxification process for yourself or a loved one. One that works for someone might be dangerous for you.
Evaluation – Be Ready
You need to know what you are dealing with to fight it. The first step in the detox process is evaluation. A proper team does the screening. Blood tests are run to see the level of drugs in the body. This helps decide what medication needs to be given. Other things like the psychiatric history, medical history, family history, drug usage, etc., are all studied to come to a long-term treatment plan.
Therapy is given on different fronts. The process of detox starts in this step. Medicines are prescribed that will help stabilize the patient during the process and reduce withdrawal symptoms.
The patient and family members are briefed about the treatment program. Doctors tell the patient exactly what will happen in each step and prepare them for the outcome.
Detoxification is not easy. It is always preferred not to try detoxification at home. With professional help, it becomes easier. They are medically trained and equipped to help in the detox process.