Drug Detox Methods
There is no one-size-fits-all method of drug addiction detox which is why treatment centers offer various drug detox methods that are aimed at meeting the unique needs of patients from all walks of life. Drug detox methods can range from those which do not involve any medications or tapering off to the often difficult cold-turkey method. Regardless of the addiction that an individual suffers from, the drug detox method that is chosen to kick-start the treatment process can make all the difference in the amount of time that the entire recovery process takes.
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Quitting Cold Turkey
The term “cold turkey” means abruptly stopping the use of drugs without taking any time to substitute the drug with another substance, without gradually reducing the dose of the drug that is typically taken and without using other methods of detox to treat the symptoms of withdrawal. Cold turkey detoxification is possible and works for some people but is not the recommended method of drug detox for those who are addicted to opiates such as heroin or to certain types of prescription medications such as Xanax. For these physical dependence problems, the cold turkey method of drug detox can be dangerous and potentially deadly to the addict as the body could shut-down if the drugs are abruptly eliminated from the system.
Medications Based Drug Detox Methods
Some addicts respond well to medications when they are detoxing from drugs such as heroin or other opiates especially. Substituting methadone or Suboxone for other opiates such as heroin or morphine can be an effective means of eliminating the severe withdrawal symptoms that are often felt while an individual detoxes from these drugs. The dangers of substituting other, less habit-forming drugs as a method of detox mainly include the threat of a new addiction occurring. It’s important to be aware of the threat of additional addiction any time medications are used to substitute a prior substance abuse problem.
Rapid Drug Detox
Reserved for those who are addicted to opiates, rapid drug detox is a method of detoxifying that includes placing the patient into a medically induced coma and using medications to promote the detoxification from opiates such as heroin or certain prescription drugs. While this method of drug detox can work for some people, it is under much scrutiny because of the inherent dangers of placing an individual into a coma as part of the treatment plan.
Certain drugs can be tapered off to reduce the withdrawal symptoms that are felt while also helping the individual to gradually detox. Tapering a drug off includes taking a little bit less of the drug each day or over a period of a few weeks or months until such a minute dose of the drug is used that it can easily be eliminated without any adverse reactions. Tapering off is the one of the preferred methods of drug detox for those using opiates, benzodiazepines and certain other prescription medications.
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- American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2006). Methadone Treatment of Addiction.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2006). Study Finds Withdrawal No Easier With Ultrarapid Opiate Detox.