WHY DETOX SHOULD BE MONITORED
An individual who has struggled with a substance use disorder should not attempt to abruptly stop using the substance and attempt to complete the detox and withdrawal process on his or her own. It is always recommended that detox be overseen by a professional who is trained in addiction recovery, as these experts are knowledgeable about managing withdrawal symptoms and recognizing serious health events that may emerge during the process.
Addiction alters brain pathways and chemistry over time. The body increasingly adapts to these changes. When someone with a drug or alcohol dependency attempts to stop cold turkey, the body will become significantly destabilized. This is particularly true for long-term alcohol or benzodiazepine addiction or dependence. What ensues is not only physical withdrawal symptoms but psychological symptoms and instability as well. When the withdrawal effects become too much to bear, the individual will give up on the idea of recovery and return to the substance. Without someone guiding the individual through the detox and withdrawal process the attempt to enter treatment will usually fail.
WHAT IS AN IN HOME MEDICAL DETOX?
A medical detox can take place either in an inpatient medical facility or in the privacy of your home. So, an in home medical detox simply means that the process of detox and withdrawal from alcohol or drugs is undergone at home under the supervision of a doctor and detox nursing team. The medical support mimics that of an inpatient facility, with identical detox services provided at each venue, home or facility.
In home detox is orchestrated by a doctor who is a board certified addiction specialist. The doctor creates the treatment plan based upon a thorough medical and psychological evaluation, and information pertaining to the substance of abuse, the duration of the abuse or addiction, and the amount of dosing. Under the doctor’s supervision, a trained detox nurse and other clinical health providers will oversee the client’s detox and withdrawal, offering medications to help ease the symptoms as well as provide emotional support throughout the process.
The ultimate goal of the medical detox is to safely guide the individual through the stages of detox in order to successfully stabilize them for beginning addiction treatment afterward. This is the key advantage of a medical detoxification, to make it through to the other side safely, thereby assisting the individual through the difficult patches that would otherwise cause them to give up.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING DETOX AND WITHDRAWAL
When initiating a medically supervised detox it may be helpful to understand what to expect. It is difficult to generalized about the detox experience, as several factors will determine the detox timeline and the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. These factors include the length of addiction history, which substance is involved, the amount of the substance regularly consumed, whether there is a coexisting mental health issue, the age and general health status of the individual, and the history of prior detox attempts.
Individuals with an opiate or benzodiazepine addiction or dependence will be guided through a tapering process, where incrementally smaller doses are administered over a period of 2-4 weeks. This allows the brain to slowing adjust to the diminishing level of the substance and greatly reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms or health risks that can occur if the drug is withdrawn suddenly.
Individuals detoxing from alcohol will be closely monitored for dangerous symptoms that may arise during days 3-4 of the detox timeline. These acute symptoms, called the delirium tremens, can come on without warning and are life threatening for a minority of individuals in alcohol detox, but for those who experience the DTs 15%-30% may expire due to the condition.
Generally, the detox timeline follows a predictable course, with the individual experiencing emerging withdrawal symptoms in the first stage, more intensified symptoms in the second stage, then subsiding symptoms in the third stage. Most detoxes take a week or less to complete. The exceptions to this include the substances, such as opioid or benzodiazepines, which require a longer tapering program.
AT HOME DETOX INTERVENTIONS
Patient comfort and privacy are the priorities for the private detox nurse. With a one-to-one ratio, the private in home detox nurse offers highly personalized care. The detox nurse has many medical interventions available to help ease the discomfort patients experience during the detox and withdrawal process. These include:
- Medications, such as benzodiazepine for alcohol detox. This can treat anxiety, insomnia, and reduce the risk of seizure.
- Naltrexone or buprenorphine, which can be prescribed by the physician to ease some withdrawal symptoms in detox, and to enhance recovery success for the first several months to one year following treatment.
- Over-the-counter medications that ease headache, fever, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea.
- Holistic remedies. Concierge services may be helpful during detox, such as therapeutic massage or acupuncture.
- Emotional support. Providing guidance and support during the detox process can help the individual make it through the detox and into a treatment program.