The detox doctor plays an essential role in in-home detox. The detox doctor leads the clinical and medical teams, playing the deciding role when determining the best course of treatment for your recovery. With extensive medical training, as well as specific training to treat substance use disorders, a detox doctor can ensure your health and safety throughout this initial stage of abstinence and help guide you toward freedom from addiction.
What is Detoxification?
Medical detoxification is a treatment that helps people overcome the first stage of addiction recovery. People with a substance use disorder often face severe mental and physical health challenges when they suddenly stop, a phenomenon known as withdrawal.
Drug or alcohol addiction causes changes in brain chemistry and pathways. When the substance is withheld, withdrawal symptoms emerge. These uncomfortable and even painful symptoms are signs that the brain is attempting to adjust to the absence of the substance. It takes several days, and sometimes weeks, to complete the detoxification process.
Every misused drug – including marijuana, opioids, amphetamines, and alcohol – can cause withdrawal symptoms that are difficult to overcome on your own.
While each specific drug has its own set of symptoms, there are common threads throughout every drug’s withdrawal phase, including:
- Sleep disturbances
- Intense drug cravings
Certain drugs, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can cause withdrawal symptoms that may become life-threatening. For example:
- Alcohol detox complications. An individual with severe alcohol use disorder may experience the delirium tremens on days 3-4 of alcohol detox. This is a rare but serious condition that requires immediate medical intervention.
- Benzodiazepine detox complications. Someone taking benzodiazepines for an extended period may experience intense withdrawal symptoms when attempting to stop taking the drug. To address this, a tapering schedule can help the body slowly adjust to incrementally lower dosages over a two-week period.
To achieve abstinence safely, medical detoxification expertise is advised. The detox doctor and nurses are trained to closely monitor symptoms for the duration of the detox process, and to quickly respond should serious withdrawal symptoms emerge.
What is a Detox Doctor?
A detox doctor is the primary physician in charge of the medical detoxification process. They are the ultimate decision-makers, ensuring that a person striving for recovery gets the treatment they need to be successful.
At Kinkaid Private Care, our in-home physician is double-board-certified in addiction and internal medicine. Above that, he has accumulated decades of clinical experience treating mental health and substance use disorders.
The detox doctor’s extensive training prepares him to manage a variety of physical and mental health symptoms. Under his leadership, the patient is ensured appropriate holistic healthcare recommendations throughout the detox process.
The detox doctor takes several variables into account when leading the treatment team. Each protocol is curated to treat all aspects of an individual’s addiction, keeping the patient safe and comfortable. They consider such implications as:
- Pre-existing health conditions
- Co-occurring mental health disorders
- Current medication regimens
- Specific drug withdrawal effects
- Patient-specific preferences
- Drug allergies or sensitivities
- Past unsuccessful detox attempts
Throughout the entire detoxification process, a detox doctor closely monitors each patient’s progress and can make changes to the treatment plan in order to ensure their patient’s health, safety, and comfort.
How Detox Helps
The first stage of abstinence is often the hardest to break through. When a person suddenly stops taking drugs or alcohol, their body experiences a “rebound effect”–which creates the well-defined withdrawal symptoms that are so characteristic of early abstinence. But another system is at work besides the physiological response: the mind begins to crave drugs, rationalize substance use, and deny that there was ever a problem to begin with.
A detox doctor uses every tool available to treat both the physical and psychological aspects of withdrawal. Targeted medications can alleviate physical withdrawal symptoms, help to manage drug cravings, and show you that the path to abstinence is achievable. Alongside these medications, targeted therapies and clinical support can strengthen a patient’s resolve to maintain their sobriety. This support is vital – as people without a strong network of support will often relapse before ever breaking through the withdrawal phase.