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Substance Abuse Detox and The Ridge

How We Handle Substance Abuse Detox

When an individual is looking for help in getting sober from addiction to drugs or alcohol, the first thing they must do is go through substance abuse detox. Detox is the process of helping the body withdraw from the drugs or alcohol it has become dependent on. Depending on the substance and addiction level, detox can be uncomfortable, and it can even be dangerous. The Ridge offers safe, medically assisted detox to help clients through this difficult first step of recovery. For opiates and light alcohol use, we can offer services through our residential facility. For heavy alcohol use, benzodiazepines or other sedatives a medical detox may be deemed necessary. In these cases, we use a local partner and offer a bed to bed transfer once the detox process is complete.

Determining Medical Necessity

When a client contacts the Ridge seeking residential substance abuse services we do an initial phone consultation. We will go over your level of substance abuse, exact substances being used and a brief medical history. From this initial conversation, we will either suggest you do a detox in a medical facility or we may determine that no detox is necessary, or that your level and type of substance used can be taken care at our facility. This is done in consultation with our on-staff physician and addictionologists. For light alcohol, any opiates, cocaine, meth and most other substances no detox protocol is necessary. For heavy alcohol or benzodiazepines, hospital detox is usually recommended.

Every patient meets with our medical staff upon admission and is given an addiction assessment by our medical team to assess substance abuse detox and other medical needs.

Types of Substance Abuse Detox

Substance Abuse detox protocol differs by the type of substance the person was using. Some drugs have few physical detox symptoms and the individual mainly has to deal with psychological symptoms and intense cravings. Other substances cause severe physical side effects during detox which can put the individual’s life in danger.

Drugs like meth and cocaine, which are stimulants, cause basic withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, depression, and intense cravings. These and other drugs like them can safely be cleansed from the body by using supportive care methods. The individual going through this type of detox will benefit from physical care, medical monitoring, and especially emotional and psychological support.

Other substances, like alcohol and benzodiazepines, are much more dangerous when it comes to detox. Benzodiazepines are medications like sleep aids, sedatives, and tranquilizers, and these, like alcohol, can be dangerous to stop once the body is dependent on them. Symptoms of this type of withdrawal include insomnia, fatigue, irritability, body aches, nausea, anxiety, vomiting, and headaches. They can also cause more dangerous side effects, such as hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens (DTs), which is a rapid onset of confusion accompanied by shaking, irregular heart rate, hallucinations, seizures, and very high body temperature that can be life-threatening.

Alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal should be done in a medical facility where the person is monitored closely and can be treated with medication and support as needed. This type of detox should not be attempted at home. At The Ridge, we refer those who require a higher level of medical care for withdrawal to our partner medical facilities. In order to determine the level of care needed, our admissions professionals conduct a full assessment of all incoming clients.

Opiate drugs like prescription painkillers and heroin cause flu-like symptoms and fatigue when the person is detoxing from them. Shakes, chills, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, irritability, and insomnia are all signs of opiate withdrawal. The person might feel “foggy” and unable to think clearly. These symptoms usually last a few days to a week, and then gradually get better. The good news is there are medications to help reduce and even eliminate the symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

Medically Assisted Detox

Medical detox is done by licensed medical professionals who monitor vital signs to keep the individual safe, healthy, and as comfortable as possible as they go through this initial part of recovery. Medically assisted detox utilizes medications to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and allow the individual to focus on rehab and sobriety. These medications are especially effective in controlling opiate withdrawal symptoms.

Suboxone is used in medical detoxification from opiates, and it contains two medications that work together to eliminate cravings and keep the body from experiencing detox symptoms. The first medication in Suboxone is buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist which takes the place of the opiate to trick the brain into thinking it is still using its substance. This suppresses withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and makes the person feel energized, but not euphoric as with their drug. Buprenorphine is a long-acting drug, which means if the person would try to take their drug during this time, it would have no effect on the body because the buprenorphine is already occupying opioid receptors in the brain. Another benefit of buprenorphine is the ceiling effect, which means taking more of this medication will not result in a high, thus deterring overuse.

The second medication in Suboxone is naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist. This medication helps deter the person from abusing suboxone because if taken in large amounts, naloxone will reverse the effects of all opiates in the body and cause rapid and severe withdrawal symptoms.

Benefits of Medication-Assisted Detox

Medications like Suboxone have changed the world of drug detox for the better. These medications take away the discomfort, anxiety, depression, and other symptoms of detox, making it less scary and in turn, causing more people to be willing to try it. This also allows the individual to forget about detox and relapse and instead focus on the important task of rehab and recovery. When drugs like Suboxone are used properly, the individual is more likely to succeed in opiate withdrawal and stay sober for a longer period of time. The longer the individual stays sober, the better their chances are at a full recovery.

Substance abuse detox is only the first step on the journey to sobriety. It is important that along with detox, the individual receives counseling and therapy to help address cravings and triggers and learn how to manage stress. There will still be temptations to use — during withdrawal and even long after — and in order to remain sober the person needs the emotional and psychological healing and support of trained staff and loved ones.

The Ridge is a residential treatment program that offers medically assisted substance abuse detox, as well as intensive therapy and counseling programming.

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