Medical detoxification is the very first stage in addiction treatment, and proves a crucial first step for those attempting to completely cease use of drugs or alcohol after any prolonged period of regular consumption. The withdrawal symptoms that coincide with abruptly ceased substance use can be dangerous, and potentially lethal in many cases if not overseen and treated by a team of medical professionals. Depending on the length of consistent use and the quantities of drugs or alcohol being consumed on a daily basis, the recommended stay at medical detox may vary significantly. Those who used alcohol or benzodiazepines for any prolonged period of time, for example, will likely be required to stay at such a facility for much longer than those who abused opiates for several months. In order to better understand medical detox, let’s take a look at several potentially abused substances and explore the withdrawal symptoms related to each.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal is a highly dangerous and potentially life-threatening condition, affecting those who have been drinking heavily and consistently for years, months, or even weeks at a time. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can begin to occur as soon as several hours after an individual has taken his or her last drink, depending on the amount consumed and the frequency of consumption. Daily drinkers tend to experience far more intense and dangerous symptoms, while binge drinkers (those who drink heavily but not on a daily or near-daily basis) will frequently experience painful, though not lethal, symptoms. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can vary greatly, from moderate impairments such as cold sweats, headache, muscle tension, and disorientation, to seizures, stroke, heart attack, and delirium tremens (also known as the DTs). If you are looking to quit alcohol and have not been clean or sober for more than several hours or days at a time over the course of the past year or so, checking yourself into a medical detox is an essential first step to recovery.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Like alcohol withdrawal, withdrawal from benzodiazepines can prove lethal if not medically treated by a team of licensed and experienced professionals. While anxiety and insomnia are the most frequently noted symptoms of benzo withdrawal, those who have been abusing drugs like Valium, Xanax, Ativan, or Quaaludes for an extended period of time and cease use abruptly are likely to undergo a series of painful and disorienting symptoms that, if not lethal, will surely send them back to using before the withdrawal process is complete. If you have been abused benzodiazepines for any prolonged period of time, medical detox is essential.

Opiate Withdrawal

While withdrawal symptoms of prolonged opiate abuse are typically not lethal, they can be so physically uncomfortable that many opiate addicts will return to using before the detoxification process is even complete. Many opiate addicts describe withdrawal symptoms like coming down with a bad flu. The medical professionals at the licensed detox you attend will prescribe medications to help make the overall process significantly more bearable.

Stimulant Withdrawal

Like opiate withdrawal, stimulant withdrawal is rarely lethal, though discomfort levels and psychological cravings can be extremely intense. Those who attend medical detox consistently experience more success in maintaining prolonged periods of sobriety than those who attempt to detox off of stimulants on their own.

If you or someone you love is battling a life-threatening addiction to drugs or alcohol and needs help to quit, committing to a stay at a medical detox facility is a crucial first step on the road to recovery. For more information on medical detoxification or for a comprehensive list of medical detox facilities near you, please contact us today.