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What Medications Might You Be Prescribed to Help a Supervised Detox?

Is Detox with Suboxone Ever Dangerous? | Just Believe Detox

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Supervised detox, also called medication-assisted treatment (MAT), is a treatment method utilized by many drug and alcohol addiction rehabs to help the patient manage severe physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. They include overpowering cravings, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Reducing the severity of the symptoms makes detox more tolerable and helps the patient stabilize faster. Other symptoms that may develop are rapid heart rate, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, convulsions, headaches, and body aches.

Why Medication May Be Used During Detox

People who abuse alcohol and drugs, especially cocaine and opioids, become physically and psychologically dependent on these substances making it extremely difficult to quit on their own. This is why comprehensive addiction treatment is usually required to help them kick the habit and remain “clean.” The first stage of treatment is detox which can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting. This is the process of purging the drugs or toxins from the body. MAT is a supervised process that is incorporated into the treatment plan by many rehabilitative centers in South Florida. It involves the use of FDA-approved medications which have proven to be effective in the following ways:

Manage withdrawal symptoms

It is common, even likely, for an addicted individual to develop severe post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) during detox. Some symptoms may be life-threatening, for example, suicidal thoughts, high blood pressure, and overpowering cravings which may lead to overdose. This is also why quitting “cold turkey” or detoxing at home is unsafe and never recommended. With the use of certain prescribed drugs, the withdrawal process is more tolerable for the patient. Sometimes people addicted to opiates such as heroin may be given small doses of a prescription opioid to help them taper off the illicit drug.


The use of medication also tends to reduce the length of the withdrawal period allowing the patient to stabilize faster. Being stabilized essentially means you’ve reached a point where you no longer crave the drug. Even if you develop cravings from time to time, your doctor may continue to administer medication to help you taper off the substance completely. This process is called maintenance. Maintenance can sometimes continue even after your transition to behavioral therapy.

Reduce the risk of relapse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that different types of medications can be used during supervised detox to help the patient stay in treatment and avoid relapse. This increases their chances of recovery and long-term sobriety. It also marks an important breakthrough in addiction treatment since an individual is more likely to fall back into substance abuse if they try to withdraw on their own. Even if they try to self treat at home with medication, they lack the clinical expertise to dispense the medication to themselves in the right doses, thus placing their health and life in great danger.

Drugs Commonly Used for Supervised Detox

Drug and alcohol abuse results in chemical changes in the brain that make a person compulsively seek the substance even when the habit is harmful to their health and life. They lose their ability to make proper judgments, be rational, or make logical decisions. This aspect of addiction is one of the reasons why NIDA defines addiction as a brain disease that needs to be systematically treated like other diseases. Among the FDA-approved medications commonly administered during a supervised detox are antidepressants, opioid agonists, non-opioid agonists, benzodiazepines, and partial opioid agonists and antagonists.

Some medications used during detox have the ability to block the receptors in the brain and prevent the desire or crave for the feelings of euphoria produced by drugs and alcohol use. Others make you develop an aversion to the abused substance. Here is a breakdown of some FDA-approved medications used during a medically-assisted detox. Your physician will decide which one, or combination of drugs, to administer to you. The decision is usually based on whether you have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, and what type of drug is involved.

Alcohol detox

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) cites benzodiazepines, .e.g, lorazepam and diazepam, as primary drugs to address alcohol withdrawal symptoms. These psychoactive drugs slow the central nervous system and work to treat symptoms particularly convulsions (seizures), anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Gabapentin can also be administered to treat similar symptoms. Patients may see improvement in high blood pressure, irritability, anxiety, and tremors when administered clonidine. Further, the drugs acamprosate and naltrexone have proven effective in reducing alcohol cravings. Last, but not least, disulfiram is commonly used to treat symptoms of chronic alcoholism. It makes the patient develop an aversion for alcohol, but is not a cure for alcoholism.

Opioid detox

Commonly abused opioids are the illicit drug, heroin, and prescription painkillers such as codeine, fentanyl, oxycodone, and morphine. Opioids produce a euphoric effect that is highly addictive. To counteract the effects of opioids on the brain’s receptors, opioid agonists such as methadone or non-opioid agonists such as clonidine may be used in patients with chronic drug addiction. Additionally, opioid antagonists such as naltrexone and naloxone work by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain to reduce your ability to get high and decrease cravings. Other drugs such as benzodiazepines or antidepressants may also be used to treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Finding a Rehab in South Florida for Supervised Detox

Supervised detox alone is not enough to help you completely stop craving drugs or alcohol. According to NIDA, it does little to change long-term drug abuse. The same applies to alcohol addiction. Substance abuse usually co-occurs with mental health problems such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder that must be treated to increase your chances of staying sober after rehab. Rehabs in South Florida typically perform dual diagnosis to help get you the best possible treatment that includes both detox and behavioral therapy.

This two-tier approach has proven to be effective in reducing the relapse rate. Their trained and certified medical professionals have years of experience in dual diagnosis treatment and provide services in a safe, structured, and compassionate environment. If you’ve found a rehab that suits your needs or the needs of your loved one, just give them a call today at 877-497-6180 to get started on the road to recovery.

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