Why a Medical Detox Program is Needed Before Rehab

Addiction isn’t a disease that occurs overnight. The prelude to addiction is reckless experimentation with substance abuse. Individuals either become curious about recreational intoxication or begin misusing mind-altering substances while the body becomes increasingly dependent on frequent consumption.

When the body becomes dependent on alcohol or drugs, an individual must imbibe several times throughout the day in order to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay. Withdrawal can range from mildly uncomfortable to debilitating and even life-threatening, which is why addicts continue their substance abuse and oftentimes fear the recovery process.

However, recovery isn’t an overnight process either. When an individual decides to overcome his or her dependency on chemical substances, a process begins. Embarking on the journey of recovery means exploring treatment options, learning about the different types of rehabilitative programming and the treatments that work best for particular needs, determining whether there’s a particular area or region in which one would prefer to recover, whether a facility accepts certain types of health insurance and a number of other considerations.

Moreover, many individuals who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction will need to detox before beginning an actual program. Though not always required, a detox program is an important part of the rehabilitation process and can even be safer than detoxing on your own.

Why is Detoxing at Home Risky?

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After abusing chemical substances several times a day for years or even decades, addicts’ bodies have become dependent on their substance abuse for even natural functions and processes. In particular, the brain begins relying on an individual’s imbibing alcohol or drugs in order to trigger a production of important neurochemicals, unable to maintain minimum levels without the addict’s substance abuse.

When someone whose body has become chemically dependent ceases his or her substance abuse, the individual promptly begins to experience symptoms of withdrawal. The most common symptoms of withdrawal include sweating, hot flashes and cold chills, trembling and shaking, nausea, diarrhea and/or vomiting, anxiety, depression, agitation, loss of appetite, lethargy, and headaches. In short, mild to moderate withdrawal can produce symptoms that are similar to experiencing a cold or the flu, persisting for approximately a week at peak intensity. However, the detox processes for some substances are worse than others.

In instances where an individual’s addiction is very severe—such as having been in the throes of active addiction for many years—it follows that his or her withdrawal during detoxification will be more severe. In addition to those mentioned above, symptoms of severe withdrawal can include hallucinations, confusion, racing heartbeat, fever, and even seizures. If the individual’s addiction is to alcohol, this can even include a condition known as delirium tremens, a condition that occurs as a result of an alcoholic’s severe withdrawal and which directly affects the individual’s nervous system. Severe withdrawal is not only uncomfortable to the point of being quite painful but can even be a major health risk to the point of threatening one’s life.

What is a Medical Detox Program?

There are many components to the process of overcoming addiction to alcohol and drugs. When one thinks of rehabilitation, one often thinks of psychotherapy and the treatments involved, but an important precursor to the treatment phase is detoxification. Detoxing is the process of ridding or cleansing the body of the harmful substances and other toxins that individuals put into their bodies while in active addiction.

During detox, individuals will experience the onset of withdrawal symptoms and progress through them until the symptoms begin to subside. Although it’s possible to do this at home on one’s own, it’s generally not advised due to the dangers involved in unsupervised detoxification. A medical detox program is a period that precedes addiction treatment and allows those beginning the recovery process to detox in a controlled, supervised setting, benefitting from continuous monitoring and care by physicians and healthcare professionals.

Benefits of Completing a Medical Detox Program Before Addiction Treatment

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There are a number of benefits to completing one’s detoxification in a medical detox program rather than attempting to detox at home while unsupervised. By detoxing under medical supervision, individuals’ withdrawal symptoms can be monitored in order to make sure that they don’t become potentially harmful or life-threatening, which ensures their safety during the detox process. Additionally, this continuous supervision affords medical care that individuals wouldn’t receive when detoxing at home.

If an individual’s withdrawal symptoms become severe and uncomfortable along the detox timeline, physicians can administer medicinal treatments in order to help alleviate some of the discomfort of withdrawal and make the process easier. The medications that can be administered during a medical detox program can not only alleviate the physical symptoms, but they can also help to eliminate or reduce the cravings individuals have during withdrawal. With the aid of nutritional supplements and other non-addictive medications, individuals’ bodies are cleansed and returned to a state of physical health and wellness.

Upon completion of a medical detoxification program, individuals will have overcome the physical components of addiction or be only experiencing negligible post-acute symptoms of physical dependency. This allows them to begin the actual treatment phase of recovery while being able to focus on overcoming the psychological aspects of addiction. Medical detox programs are designed to help individuals achieve physical wellness so that they can learn more about addiction, the factors that led to their development of addiction, and learn a number of strategies and skills that will help them to maintain sobriety long-term.

Explore Detox & Treatment Options — Call the Palm Beach Institute Today

There are many ways to achieve recovery, but by taking advantage of a medical detox program individuals can significantly increase their chances of success in treatment. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction and would like to learn more about medical detoxification and other treatment programs, call the Palm Beach Institute at 1-855-534-3574 or contact us online. We have a team of recovery specialists available to help match individuals to the treatments that address their needs, allowing them to return to a state of sobriety, health, and wellness.

The Dangers of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal (And How to do It Right)

Addiction is a very indiscriminate disease, affecting virtually the entire demographic spectrum. No matter whether a person is male or female, young or old, black or white or green, he or she could develop a debilitating substance abuse problem that would ruin or end the person’s life. According to current estimates, there are 24.6 million addicts over the age of 12 in the U.S. alone, which amounts to almost ten percent of the country’s population.

Due to these alarming numbers, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is referred to the escalated rates of addiction as an epidemic, especially with regard to rates of heroin and painkiller abuse, putting into perspective the serious effects that this disease is having at both the micro and macro levels.

In addition, to there being many people who are suffering from addiction, there are also a variety of substances to which they are addicted. Although some substances are inherently more dangerous than others — for instance, cocaine is much more dangerous than marijuana — each substance comes with its own set of dangers.

In addition to being addictive, these substances cause physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual changes that cause a person to barely resemble his or her former self. Moreover, addiction is a disease that affects an addict’s loved ones almost as much as the addict him or herself, which is why it’s often referred to as “the family disease”.

If one were to ask several people to name to most addictive and dangerous drug, it’s likely that one would get several different answers since, again, each mind-altering, a chemical substance has its own specific risks. However, there’s been increasing evidence suggesting that benzodiazepines are one of the most dangerous drugs, but part of its danger actually pertains to some of its effects when a benzodiazepine addict stops taking the drug. As such, the following will define and describe benzodiazepines, explaining their specific effects and why benzodiazepine withdrawal is so dangerous.

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What Exactly are Benzodiazepines?

Before the heroin epidemic that is ravaging the U.S. today, there was a serious painkiller epidemic that was a top concern of both lawmakers and citizens alike. There were vast amounts of various types of prescription medications being prescribed and over-prescribed, causing many of them to be diverted and sold to substance abusers on the streets.

Moreover, there were some states — such as Florida — that lacked a centralized database to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of dangerous controlled substances, which caused many substance abusers to make monthly trips these states, oftentimes from the other side of the country, to see several different doctors, obtain duplicate prescriptions for controlled prescription drugs, and return home with hundreds of pills that would be sold on the streets.

Most people associate the prescription pill epidemic with opiate painkillers since they were the most desired prescription medication; however, another type of medication that substance abusers sought was benzodiazepines. Different from opiates in a number of important ways, benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs that target the central nervous system, causing sedating, hypnotic effects.

Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium were prescribed to patients who suffered from conditions involving anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, epileptic seizures, panic attacks, and similar conditions. However, due to their effects, benzodiazepines are also frequently used for  This type of medication worked by enhancing a particular neurotransmitter — gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA for short — that effectively reduced the activity of neurons in the brain that are responsible for feelings of anxiety and stress. Typically, benzodiazepines were prescribed and taken for only short periods since their effects are quite strong and they have a high potential for abuse and addiction.

What Makes Benzodiazepines so Dangerous?

Although many substance abusers consider the effects of benzodiazepines to be much less pronounced than more preferable, powerful substances like heroin and painkillers, benzodiazepines are still incredibly dangerous for a few important reasons. First, being that their effects are less pronounced than most other substances, people who abuse benzodiazepines are prone to overdosing by taking too many of them in an attempt to amplify their effects.

Additionally, substance abusers frequently take benzodiazepines with other substances, especially opiates, because layering the drugs amplifies the effects of both; again, this significantly increases one’s potential for overdosing. There are some combinations involving benzodiazepines that can very easily be lethal, including the mixing of benzodiazepines with methadone or other opioids.

However, one of the most unexpected dangers of benzodiazepines is when a person stops taking the drug. When an addict wants to overcome his or her addiction, the first step is to cease consumption and complete a detox. For a benzodiazepine addict, detoxing is one of the most dangerous phases of its abuse. Benzodiazepines were put to medicinal use due to their being so effective for altering one’s brain chemistry, but this efficacy is also what makes them dangerous.

In effect, when a medication is significantly altering one’s neurochemical levels, he or she can’t simply just stop taking the drug due to its intense physiological effects on the brain and the body becoming intensely dependent on the drug’s effects. This makes benzodiazepines quite similar to alcohol in the sense that both substances can harm addicts who cease consumption too abruptly. Without the proper precautions, there have been a number of instances of benzodiazepine withdrawal becoming fatal.

How to Mitigate the Dangers of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

In order to overcome physical benzodiazepine withdrawal without putting a person’s safety and life in jeopardy, he or she needs to complete detoxification in a medically-supervised detox program at a drug rehab that’s specifically equipped to monitor for signs of danger during this process.

Fortunately, it’s possible to detox from benzodiazepines safely, which is most often accomplished by slowly tapering the individual’s dosage rather than ceasing use all at once, or by switching the individual to weaker benzodiazepine and tapering him or her off the weaker drug. Although there are a few other, less common ways of achieving a benzo detox, these methods are considered the most effective and have the most evidence for success.

Reclaim Your Independence by Calling the Palm Beach Institute Today

While it’s true that benzodiazepines are incredibly dangerous, any other substance can be dangerous as well. It’s important for those who are addicted to mind-altering substances to get the treatments they need so that they don’t fall victim to some of the worst outcomes associated with drug use. For a free consultation with one of our recovery specialists, call the Palm Beach Institute at 855-960-5456. We’re available day or night to help you or a loved one begin the healing journey.

Abuse-Resistant Painkillers to Hit the Market, But Will They Really Work?

A “painkiller” can be a very dangerous, and, at times, an extremely beneficial medication. It belongs to the opioid family of prescription medication(s). Opiates can have extremely therapeutic effects, in terms of pain management. But, unfortunately, the risk for developing a dependence is high. That dependence can, and often will, develop into a full-blown addiction. The statistics tell the story of the opiate addiction epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioid deaths have quadrupled since 1999. And, the UN World Health Organization has reported that 70,000 opioid deaths occur each year; 16,000 of those deaths occurred in the United States. With statistics like that, it is no wonder that opiate use has become very scrutinized in the past few decades, as overdose rates have steadily been on the rise. Opiate abuse-deterrent drug research and development is a relatively new industry, and is “still evolving.” It is said to be growing in response to our nation’s “public health crisis” (FDA).

Why an Abuse-Resistant Painkiller?

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Abuse-resistant painkillers belong to the opiate family of medications but are engineered with the goal in mind to reduce dependence. They are meant to be non-addictive, and supposedly, do not make users feel a sense of euphoria, or “high.”

Obviously, all prescription pain medication, or “painkillers,” are prescribed by a physician, who is hoping and intending to treat pain. Some people will take the pain medication, as prescribed on the bottle, for the amount of time prescribed by the physician, and move on with their lives. This administration of the medication would be considered “therapeutic.”

The second case involves someone taking the pain medication, not realizing that they were susceptible to developing an addiction, and, subsequently, develop an addiction. The third case could be that someone acquired the medication with no intention of using it in the prescribed manner, but instead,  to abuse, themselves, or to distribute to others.

Unfortunately, a common situation is that people take the medication with no intention to abuse the drug and develop a dependence. It is an all-too-common occurrence. The United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that “22 million Americans have misused prescription painkillers of various kinds since 2002.” That is a large number of people. Considering the fact that the U.S. population is at about 316 million. That is a large percentage. While this number does not constitute a majority, it is still a very large sector of the population.

A non-addictive painkiller could possibly be the solution to this problem. A non-addictive painkiller would, by no means, eliminate addiction. Not all addictions are to painkillers. Nor, would a non-addictive painkiller eliminate all addictions and overdoses that are associated with opiate use. But, there are, no doubt, benefits to these drugs.

Firstly, a non-habit-forming painkiller would be extremely helpful in eliminating addictions that originate with a patient taking a medication, not realizing his or her propensity toward addiction. And, secondly, non-addictive painkillers could reduce the likelihood that someone who has chronic pain issues, and who is also an addict, would relapse.

These two factors, alone, are reason enough to see the importance and necessity regarding an abuse-resistant painkiller. When addiction rates go down, overdose deaths decrease in direct proportion to that. The benefits seem to have extensive effects. Perhaps the whole scenario of an abuse-resistant painkiller seems “too good to be true.” How well do these painkillers work, anyway?

How Do Abuse-Resistant Pain Killers Work?

 

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The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved a total of four abuse-resistant painkillers.

Non-addictive painkillers work on different nerve-ending receptors than habit-forming painkillers. Some medications are safeguarded by an interesting feature. For instance, a medication named Hysingla ER, developed by Purdue Pharma, L.P., turns into a “goo” when crushed. So, it is impossible to snort or shoot the drug; this does not make it impossible to become addicted to Hysingla ER, but it may help to reduce deaths caused by intravenous overdose deaths.

The FDA asserts that “the tablet is difficult to crush, break or dissolve, making it tougher for abusers to snort or inject it. “According to WebMd, “The FDA said that newly approved Hysingla ER (hydrocodone bitartrate) is an extended-release tablet to treat pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment that can’t be eased by other pain medications.”

Also, WebMd states that the drug is “not approved for ‘as-needed’ pain relief. “The FDA, states that the “different versions of Hysingla contain 20, 30, 40, 60, 80, 100 and 120 milligrams of hydrocodone to be taken every 24 hours.” Another plus to Hysingla ER is that it does not carry the same “liver toxicity associated with painkillers that contain both hydrocodone and acetaminophen” (WebMD).

Cara Therapeutics is a Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company. Cara Therapeutics recently unveiled their new compound, called CR845. CR845 does not directly enter into the brain, which decreases the chances of getting high. This type of medication also reduces some of the classic opiate side effects, like nausea, seizure, and hallucinations.

Currently, Cara Therapeutics is researching and developing an IV form of CR845, which would mainly be consumed by post-operative patients. The company hopes to eventually make a pill-form to help address the symptoms associated with chronic pain, which would be a revolution in the field of pain management.

Another drug, Targiniq XR, also manufactured by Purdue, was created to replace the highly-addictive drug, Oxycodone. Oxycodone was formerly known as Percocet.

According to WebMD, common signs of painkiller addiction or abuse include:

  1. You think about your medication a lot.
  2. You take different amounts than your doctor prescribed.
  3. You’re “doctor shopping.”
  4. You get painkillers from other sources
  5. You’ve been using painkillers a long time.
  6. You feel angry if someone talks to you about it.
  7. You’re not quite yourself.

If you or a loved one is displaying some of these signs and symptoms, get help immediately. Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease, and if left untreated, can become fatal. The Palm Beach Institute can help you to begin a life that is worth living–one that is not dependent on drugs or alcohol. Contact us at the Palm Beach Institute, today at 855-534-3574 or contact us online.

Detox Timeline: How Long Does it Take?

Medical detoxification is an essential part of early recovery, in which the symptoms associated with drug use are minimized to the point where the addict becomes stable enough to enter treatment. Detox is an important piece of recovery, but the discomfort that can be associated with the process may cause apprehension.

While pre-existing health issues, mental conditions, and use of other drugs can lengthen the detox timeline, there are general timelines in which people can expect to be in detox. The following are timelines broken down by drug type, as well as what to expect during detox.

Alcohol Detox Timeline

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Alcohol detoxification needs to take place in a medically-supervised inpatient setting, due to the rapid onset of withdrawal symptoms. And, the overall detox timeline can last about a week. Withdrawal symptoms usually start 6 to 24 hours after the last drink.

Patients can experience tremors, restlessness, nausea, and impaired judgment. The more severe of these symptoms usually occur within the first 48 hours, so medical monitoring is highly recommended. Continued medical supervision may be needed for a few days afterward, due to the possibility of hallucinations and seizures, which can be deadly.

Drugs such as Dilantin and Clonidine can be used to relieve withdrawal symptoms, especially if the patient has seizures or experiences delirium. Depending on the overall health of the patient, those with even moderate withdrawal symptoms may benefit from medications in the detox process. Other drugs that may be used include Diazepam, Ativan, and Tegretol.

Opiate Detox Timeline

While opiate withdrawal does not pose significant medical dangers, it can be intensely uncomfortable and unpleasant in which medical monitoring is recommended. The opiate detox timeline can last 5 to 10 days, in which patients are closely monitored and throughout the detox process and given the appropriate medication to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and agitation. While detoxing from opiates, there is a tapering (a decrease of dosage) of a substance that is related to the original drug of abuse that is now substituted to prevent withdrawal.

Methadone is a commonly-used drug in the detox timeline, but it also has a high potential for abuse and needs to be carefully monitored by medical personnel. Other drugs, such as Suboxone and Naltrexone, are being used more frequently in the detox process due to the lower risk for addiction. However, both of these drugs still need to be administered under close medical supervision.

Benzodiazepine Detox Timeline

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Like opiate detox, “benzo” detox generally lasts between 5 and 10 days. Medical detox is crucial, due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms and especially the psychological symptoms. Those who are withdrawing from benzos can experience psychological symptoms that can mimic schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis.

Additionally, benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, are commonly used with other drugs, like alcohol. Therefore, it is crucial those with benzodiazepine addiction undergo detoxification immediately.

Currently, there are no drugs that are FDA-approved in the management of benzo withdrawal symptoms. However, drugs such as Flumazenil and Catapres are commonly used to minimize both the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Along with medical detoxification, it is common those who are withdrawing from benzodiazepines can also utilize IV therapy.

Is Detox Needed for Drugs with No Physical Withdrawal Symptoms?

There are some drugs that have little to no physical withdrawal symptoms. Even though the physical symptoms aren’t present, the psychological withdrawals may warrant inpatient drug detoxification. For example, cocaine shows little to no physical symptoms of withdrawal but the psychological cravings and dependence on the drug create intense discomfort. In these cases, cocaine detox is recommended, and can last for a few days but not longer than a week.

Marijuana is another example of a drug with little or no physical withdrawal symptoms, but have pronounced psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety. For those withdrawing from marijuana, the detox process can last several weeks since THC, the active compound in marijuana, is stored in the body’s fat cells. However, the extent of detox would be the monitoring of psychological symptoms and any co-occurring mental disorders.

The Palm Beach Institute offers a comprehensive treatment approach, including a full range of medically-supervised detox services. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, contact us today at 1-855-534-3574.