Understanding Drug Dependence
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WHAT IS MEDICAL DETOX AND WHY DO I NEED IT?
When a person is taking a drug or alcohol into their body, there are both mental effects and physiological adaptations by the body. The drug or alcohol stimulates reactions in the body that were formerly produced by other natural substances. Over time, the body produces less of the natural substances and begins to rely more and more on the alcohol or drugs. Because all of us have different metabolisms and different DNA, the amount of time before these changes occur varies widely.
However, once a person has become dependent (they will have withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug) or addicted (they are taking the drug or drinking alcohol primarily for the way it makes them feel), they are going to experience mild to severe discomfort and pain when they attempt to stop taking the drug or drinking alcohol.
In some cases, the person can just stop. Sure, there is pain and discomfort. However, in cases where someone is drinking alcohol or taking many types of prescription drugs, ceasing to take the drug or to just stop drinking alcohol can cause serious medical problems—in some cases lethal ones.
If a person is dependent/addicted to opioids like OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, oxycodone or methadone or to an opiate like heroin, the withdrawal may not be life-threatening, but it is usually so painful that the U. S. government estimates that 95% of the people who try to stop taking these opioids on their own fail to complete their withdrawal. To address the safety issue and the discomfort/pain issues of drug and alcohol withdrawal, many people are turning to medical detox facilities like Novus.
Detox is short for detoxification. Detoxification is the removing of toxins (poisons or harmful things) from the body.�Drugs and alcohol are toxins. Medical detox means that the detoxification process is done under medical supervision. However, the product of a successful medical detox is not the total elimination of all the toxins from the body or the elimination of any cravings for the drug or alcohol. The product of a successful medical detox is that the person, in a more comfortable way, no longer has any medical risks caused by no longer taking the drug or drinking alcohol. The person is then ready to go into a rehab facility or, if the person was just dependent, return to their life.
A medical detox should follow a proven detox protocol. Webster’s Medical Dictionary defines protocol as, “A detailed plan of a scientific or medical experiment, treatment, or procedure.” The best medical protocols are not like a recipe for a cake. A good cake recipe can be followed exactly and should produce the same cake each time.
Because all of us have different metabolisms, DNA and current health situations, unlike the cake recipe, a properly designed medical detox protocol is not followed exactly for each patient. A good medical detox protocol is a guide that contains alternative procedures if the patient reacts differently than other patients. A good medical detox protocol does not have “one size fits all” procedures, but instead it provides procedures to ensure that each patient is most comfortably and safely detoxed from the alcohol or drug.
For example, the standard medical protocol for an alcoholic utilizes a drug that is given to eliminate the seizure risk. Once the person is no longer a seizure risk, the person should be given less of the drug each day until they are no longer taking the drug. This is called a taper.�Because of our DNA, metabolism and current health differences, some people will be able to taper off the drug faster than others. The speed of the taper should be adjusted for each person.
In addition, a person withdrawing from alcohol or an opioid is normally very dehydrated, and a good medical detox protocol will address this. They are normally vitamin- and mineral-depleted, and a good medical detox protocol will also address this. They may experience other withdrawal symptoms that will make their detox very uncomfortable if not handled.
OUTPATIENT OR INPATIENT?
An example of an outpatient detox is when a person sees a doctor in his office as a patient, and the doctor supervises their detox and prescribes any drugs that are needed. The person goes home and visits the doctor regularly during their detox. Because the person is not under medical care for 24 hours a day, the doctor must be very cautious, thus the detox can take many weeks or even months. Unfortunately, it is often the case that the person will have some uncomfortable sensations and not complete the withdrawal. In other cases, a person can become dependent/addicted to the drugs used to assist the person’s detox and they have gone from a problem with one substance to a problem with another.
Patients check into inpatient medical detox facilities and stay in the facility until they complete their detox. Some facilities bill themselves as medical detox facilities but only provide lodging. The only interaction with medical professionals is when the patient is taken to the medical professional’s office.
If it is a true medical detox facility, then the person is under medical supervision for 24 hours a day. At a medical detox facility, the person is given medical drugs and/or natural products to assist their withdrawal. If the person has a problem during their detox, the problem can be addressed and handled instantly. Because the patient is under the care of medical personnel around the clock, the detox can go much faster and it is normal for people to complete their withdrawal from alcohol or other drugs in between 6-14 days. Once they complete their detox, they are able to return home or go for further treatment.
THINGS TO ASK BEFORE GOING TO AN INPATIENT MEDICAL DETOX FACILITY
Anyone seeking medical detox at an inpatient facility should ask the following questions:
- What is the medical protocol for the substance from which the person will be detoxing?
- What changes will be made to the medical protocol if the patient reacts differently to the withdrawal than expected?
- Does the facility offer 24-hour medical supervision?
- What is the percentage of people who start a medical detox that actually complete it?
- What is the estimated time required for the detox requested?
- Will the person leave the medical detox facility on new drugs?
- Can the person walk outside and what is the surrounding environment like?
- Are there any restrictions on smoking, watching television, making telephone calls, eating meals and internet access?
- Does the person have a private room?
- What are the comments of former patients about their experience at the facility?
THE NOVUS EXPERIENCE
At Novus Medical Detox Center we would answer these questions in the following way:
- The Novus Medical Detox Center protocol includes not only the standard medical handlings but also hydration, vitamins, minerals and good food.
- Novus Medical Detox Center offers 24-hour medical supervision, is continually monitoring the patient’s progress and frequently will adjust the rate of the patient’s taper in accordance with the comfort and safety of the patient.
- Novus Medical Detox Center has a more than 90% completion rate of people who start their medical detox at our facility.
- Generally, people can complete their detox in from six to eight days and even very high doses of opioids can be detoxed in less than fourteen days.
- The person will not leave on additional drugs.
- Novus Medical Detox Center is on 3.25 treed acres and our patients regularly take walks or sit outside.
- Novus Medical Detox Center has designated smoking areas but our patients are free to smoke at any time. They have a television in their room. They have a phone in their room and there are no restrictions on cellphone usage. They have internet access and the food is rated as excellent by patients.
- Each Novus Medical Detox Center patient has his/her own private room.
- There are patient comment forms available for review.
Do we know that if you come to Novus Medical Detox Center you will not revert to using the substance from which you detoxed? No, in fact we know that most people who only go through a detox facility will not remain off the substance from which they detoxed unless they go for further treatment.
What we do know is that almost all of our patients complete their medical detox. What we do know is that our patients tell us that they leave Novus Medical Detox Center feeling better than they have in years and they are ready for the next step in their lives—whether it’s going to rehab or a return to their home and family.