There a many different drug detoxification methods available to a person who is looking at getting off of drugs. Which one you pick has a lot to do with the type of dependence or addiction, physical condition, personal preference, and other factors. Here are five popular detoxification methods, along with their pros and cons:
Out-Patient Detox Methods
This method is not really “out-patient” since people attempt it on their own. While going “cold turkey” seems to be promoted as something that “tough” people do, there are more cons than pros to this method.
Pros: If you survive, you’re off the drug.
Cons: Going cold turkey is uncomfortable and can be extremely dangerous. While movies like Trainspotting show people going through the pain and discomfort of withdrawal, they end up okay in the end. In reality, different drugs have different withdrawal symptoms that can make an unsupervised cold turkey detox deadly. Some of these withdrawal symptoms are: fever, delirium tremens, psychosis, seizure, coma, and death.
It may seem easier to use another drug to replace the drug to which you are addicted. This is why methadone clinics have a popular program. After a person has begun a methadone program, they are likely to become addicted to methadone.
Pros: Methadone clinics may help a person get off the drug to which they are currently addicted. It is relatively easy and is usually an out-patient program. Methadone is a controlled substance, whereas heroin is an illegal street drug.
Cons: The drug used in these clinics is highly addictive. Withdrawal from methadone is more dangerous than withdrawal from most other opiates. This means that when you have gotten “clean,” you are addicted to methadone instead of the drug to which you had been addicted (usually heroin or other opiates).
In-Patient Detox Methods
Holistic Detox is an in-patient detox program which focuses on helping the mind as well as the body. These types of programs generally utilize vitamins, nutrition, and some sort of spiritual or mental guide like yoga, acupuncture, and/or therapy.
Pros: When one has graduated from a holistic detoxification program, they are truly drug-free. Additionally, this is an in-patient type program. This means that, while a person may have to give up some freedoms for a little while, they will be cared for, their progress will be monitored, and trained staff will help them through the detoxification process.
Cons: If no medicine is used in detoxification, the process can be uncomfortable. However, this is many times better than going “cold turkey.” Holistic detox is administered by specialists who utilize nutritional supplements and other methods to manage withdrawal, combined with therapy for the psychological symptoms. This is a more “natural” detoxification process.
In a medical detox, the addict is helped through the withdrawal process with medication and is under the care of trained medical staff.
Pros: Specific medical detox programs focus on getting the addict drug free and utilize less potent medications to help the addict off the drugs that are controlling their life. After they are off the dangerous drugs to which they are addicted, they can be helped off of the medications they are taking – making the withdrawal process safe and relatively comfortable.
Cons: It is necessary to have a discussion with a detox center specialist about the exact medications that will be utilized to help an addict off drugs. This also applies to alcohol, which is associated with severe physical dependence. If they utilize other addictive substances like methadone, research the effects and withdrawal symptoms of those drugs. The idea is to get the addict completely free of drugs – not to hook them on a new one.
Combined Detox Programs
Some detox centers focus on the characteristics of specific drugs and addictions. For certain drugs, they may take a more holistic approach. Others require additional medication for safe withdrawal. The physical state of the addict, which drugs they have been using, and how long they’ve been using are all considered, as well as how the addict is most comfortable approaching it.
Pros: Certain drugs are known for the intensity of physical dependence brought about through continued use. Opioid painkillers (Vicodin, OxyContin), opiates (heroin, morphine), benzodiazepines (Klonopin, Xanax), as well as alcohol are known for life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, including pneumonia, seizures, and cardiovascular complications. Such cases require controlled doses of medication to gradually reduce the symptoms of addiction and withdrawal. Cocaine, on the other hand, is not generally known for such a severe physical dependence; it is more notorious in terms of heavy psychological addiction. A person can get off cocaine using a purely holistic process – depending on the person and their preferences.
Cons: Some centers will prescribe antidepressants or even benzodiazepines to manage withdrawal symptoms. This is not recommended since many of these drugs bring about addiction themselves. Be sure to ask an addiction specialist which kinds of drugs they use in detox. When a combined holistic and medical detox system is used, the ideal result would be a person who is no longer dependent upon any psychoactive chemical whatsoever.
When a professionally supervised detox is accomplished, the next step of rehab is to get to the root of the personal, familial, environmental, mental, and spiritual elements connected with a person’s drug or alcohol habit. When this is done thoroughly, it can mean a new beginning for a former addict or alcoholic.