Do I Need Medication Assisted Detox?
If you or your loved one has decided to get addiction treatment, one of the first questions you will face is if detox is necessary and if so, what type? It’s helpful to know that recovery from addiction is a process that has several steps. In many ways, it’s a process that continues for life. But for the purposes of this article, we will focus on the very beginning. The first thing to do if you want to stop using drugs… is to stop using drugs. Seems obvious enough. But how? Let’s look at how medication assisted detox can help.
There are three main obstacles to quitting drugs or alcohol.
- Lack of Willingness:
The person must want to stop drinking and drugging. Getting recovery is hard, but without willingness, it’s impossible. If you are truly willing though and you want to get sober, then there is no reason you can’t do it. You don’t need to have all the answers or have a plan for the rest of your life. You just must be willing enough to try. To really try and to listen and follow directions, even when it’s hard, even when you’re uncomfortable or afraid. This part is up to you, you have to bring the willingness. Medication assisted detox can help, if you’re willing.
- Psychological Dependence:
We use drugs or drink to change the way we feel. Whether it’s to escape physical or psychological pain or even just to escape boredom, addiction begins with that desire to change how we feel. It becomes a problem when we put that desire ahead of our own well-being. Being psychologically dependent on a drug or a drink means we are afraid to be without it. It is our refuge, our peace of mind. Life without it seems like it will be no good. Maybe even unbearable. We may lie, cheat or steal to keep using or drinking.
- Physical Dependence:
This is the key medical component of addiction and it’s where medication assisted detox can be most helpful. Most drugs have some form of physical dependence associated with them. What this means is if you stop using them, you have physical withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the drug, these symptoms can be dangerous even deadly. Alcohol, benzodiazepines and barbiturates all have potentially deadly seizures among their list of physical withdrawal symptoms. No one should ever try to detox themselves from any of those three without medication assisted detoc.
Ok, I Understand, But Do I Need Medication Assisted Detox?
The simple answer is, if you are drinking or using benzodiazepines or barbiturates regularly, you need a medication assisted detox to stop safely. There is a potential for a deadly seizure with all three. This is one reason why medication assisted detox is so important. The likelihood of this effect is hard to predict but there are a few key factors:
- How much you are using.
- The frequency of use (every day, several times a day, a few times a week etc.)
- Duration of use (how many years you have been using or drinking)
- Your age.
- Relative physical health.
- History of seizures in yourself or family members.
An Important Decision
When making a decision about medication assisted detox, it is always best to err on the side of safety. Even if you are taking a drug that isn’t in one of the three categories above, or your risk factor profile seems less severe than some. The fact is there is no good reason to suffer needlessly in withdrawal. They say if something doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger, but this does not apply to withdrawal symptoms. If there is even the slightest doubt, get a medication assisted detox. Whether it is inpatient or outpatient, whichever is recommended to you by a medical professional, go that route. Trying to quit ‘cold turkey’ doesn’t make you a hero. At best, it’s careless and at worst, it’s really dangerous.
Some people feel like they ‘deserve’ to suffer through withdrawal symptoms as a punishment for regrettable decisions they’ve made. Others may think that the suffering of withdrawal will make such an impression that it will keep them from ever picking up a drug or a drink again. That simply isn’t how addiction works. They say we have “built-in forgetters” and there is some truth to that. Believe it or not, horrific withdrawal without medication assisted detox will not make you less likely to relapse. It’s just pointless suffering and it could be dangerous. The truth is people who get a medical detox and follow up with partial hospitalization or other treatment afterwards and complete the program are much more likely to build lasting recovery than people who try a different route. The results are in and we know what works, so trust the experts when it comes to detox and treatment.
If you have any questions about medication assisted detox through one of our partner programs or treatment in general, give Harmony Recovery Group at call at (844) 241-4673.