There are many mind-altering substances to which a person could become addicted, each offering its own risks and dangers. However, it goes without saying that some substances are more addictive and dangerous than others.
Additionally, while the use and misuse of certain substances are more dangerous than others, there’s also the fact that detoxing from certain substances can be particularly risky as well. Therefore, the following will explain the purpose of detoxification and name the drugs that are known for having the most difficult or worst detox processes.
What Exactly Is the Purpose of Detox Treatment?
When it comes to addiction, there are two sides to the disease: the physical and the psychological. Before an individual can overcome the psychological aspects of dependency — which is essential in order to achieve long-lasting sobriety — he or she must overcome physical dependency, which is the purpose of detox treatment.
When an individual begins detox treatment, he or she typically resides in a special detox facility while receiving care and being monitored by physicians and other treatment providers.
The purpose of detoxing in a facility is to ensure that an individual’s detoxification progresses smoothly without endangering the patient’s life; moreover, detoxing under supervision means the patient’s symptoms can be treated with so-called “comfort medications” in order to alleviate some of the severity of withdrawal.
In short, the purpose of detox treatment is to cleanse an individual’s body of toxins and other harmful substances, helping him or her to overcome physical dependency in order to begin receiving treatment for psychological dependency.
Considered by most to be the most addictive drug there is, heroin is an opioid that’s derived from the opium obtained from a special poppy. The substance binds with the brain’s opiate receptors, causing a sedative effect while relaxing the individual and alleviating any pain or physical discomfort.
The drug also causes a spike in the levels of certain neurochemicals that activate the reward and pleasure circuits in the brain. When deprived of the drug, individuals who are addicted to heroin undergo intense withdrawals that make it one of the worst detox experiences.
During heroin detox treatment, individuals sometimes receive medications like methadone, Suboxone or Subutex (buprenorphine), clonidine or even mild benzodiazepines to alleviate some of the discomforts of withdrawal.
Unfortunately, many heroin addicts experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms for months or even years after becoming sober. However, detox treatment helps with the most severe symptoms and helps individuals become ready to receive heroin addiction treatments.
One could call alcoholism the original addiction as it allowed us to gain a better understanding of substance abuse and addiction as a whole. Alcohol is a very highly addictive substance that’s difficult for alcoholics to give up. Compared to most other substances, the physical dependency that an alcoholic forms with alcohol is incredibly intense, making alcohol detox potentially dangerous and giving it a top spot among the worst detox experiences.
In fact, alcoholics are typically discouraged from detoxing on their own without some form of professional supervision due to the risk of several life-threatening conditions that are sometimes brought on by an alcoholic’s sudden cessation of alcohol. Specifically, conditions like delirium tremens, alcoholic hallucinosis, alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and a condition known as “wet brain” can occur when individuals detox from alcohol without supervision. In instances of severe alcoholism, many patients will receive medications in order to make them safer during detoxification.
Similar to alcohol, benzodiazepines are a substance to which individuals can develop incredibly strong physical dependencies. For those who are unfamiliar with them, benzodiazepines are essentially a form of tranquilizers or strong sedatives that are frequently prescribed for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy and similar conditions, social phobias, and prior to surgical procedures to help calm individuals down. Unfortunately, their effects make benzodiazepines a popular type of substance for abuse.
Due to their moderate to intense effects on the central nervous system, habitual use and misuse of benzodiazepines are incredibly dangerous with the drug being notoriously difficult from which to detox. When an individual dependent on benzodiazepines ceases consumption suddenly, he or she is at risk of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, which can even include seizures; as such, it’s crucial that those addicted to benzodiazepines detox is in supervised, medical environment.
Crystal Methamphetamine Detox
While there are other drugs — such as heroin — that are equally as addictive, crystal methamphetamine, or crystal meth for short, has one of the worst detoxes for more reasons than as a recreational drug. In terms of its effects, crystal meth is a stimulant with its greatest effects being to the central nervous system. During World War II, the man-made substance was often given to soldiers to help them to stay away during extended or prolonged combat.
Nowadays, crystal meth is made in patch-make, improvised home laboratory using a variety of volatile, dangerous chemicals that often cause explosions. The effects of crystal meth last for many hours with individuals frequently going on “binges” during which they’ll continue to use crystal meth for days on end.
When under the influence of meth, neurochemical levels are exceedingly high, especially with regard to dopamine. However, the high dissipates quickly, causing dopamine levels to plummet.
Additionally, long-term meth use is known to cause brain damage as well as neurotoxicity. Methamphetamine detoxification is considered one of the most difficult detoxes for a number of reasons. Some of the most common symptoms of a methamphetamine detox include depression, inability to feel happiness or pleasure, insomnia and irregular sleep patterns, paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety, physical pain throughout the body, agitation, and intense cravings.