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Methods of Drug Detox Treatment

Different drugs have different withdrawal durations and effects on users. Through research and clinical practices, various methods have been proven effective for certain types of drugs.

Although drug detox treatment is the first step in drug abuse treatments, by itself, it has little to no effect on drug seeking behaviors or long term abstinence. Without subsequent treatment, most users of psychoactive substances will relapse to dependence.

What is Drug Detox Treatment?

Whether it is performed in an inpatient, outpatient, hospital, or residential setting, the drug detox treatment involves a supervised, safe, and effective manner of helping the person minimize withdrawals symptoms from psychoactive substance abuse. Drug detox treatment consists of 3 sequential components including evaluation, stabilization, and fostering readiness for subsequent treatment.

  • Evaluation is the first step in determining the types of drugs a person is abusing, their levels of addiction and patterns of abuse along with any co-existing physical or psychological health conditions that may complicate the detox process.
  • Stabilization is a guided process through the detox with observations for changes in physical or mental health conditions. The use of medications is considered an integral part of detox to reduce or alleviate cravings and withdrawal symptoms that can be painful, unpleasant, or potentially harmful to the addict or others
  • Fostering readiness for subsequent treatment can include providing support and counseling for the patient to help them understand that detox, alone, is insufficient for reducing drug seeking behaviors or preventing relapse.

“Medical Model” Drug Detox Methods

detox from drugs

Medical detoxification is a common method in drug detox.

A medical model of detox is characterized by the use of physicians, nurses, and professionals who assist the person through safe withdrawals using medications to alleviate and reduce the symptoms of cravings and withdrawals. These programs are usually provided in hospitals, clinics, inpatient, or outpatient treatment facilities with qualified staff to intervene whenever complicated conditions arise.

They may involve the use of anti-anxiety medications, sedatives, benzodiazepines, or anti-psychotic medications to help with psychological withdrawal symptoms or co-existing mental health disorders. Agonists, partial agonists, and antagonist drugs can be used for acute symptom management or ongoing therapy needs such as the use of methadone or buprenorphine for opioid addiction treatment programs, or naltrexone for rapid opioid detox.

“Social Model” Drug Detox Methods

Unlike medical models of drug detox, these methods rely on a non-hospital environment to support the addict through the withdrawal process. Occasionally, they provide medications to assist in complications during detox such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, seizures, or physical problems, but, they may be limited in their pharmacological approach to acute symptom management.

These methods are often used by outpatient programs that provide alternative treatments such as religious, 12-step recovery, or holistic approaches that support the overall physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the addict.

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