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Drug Detox

stockvault_9631_20080128For families and individuals suddenly faced with a drug abuse problem, their own, or that of someone close to them, the bewildering array of programs and methods of treating the problem can seem overwhelming. However, for any drug addiction, the place to start is drug detoxification, or detox, because without this physical element of the recovery process, there is little hope of a long-term cure.
Drug detox involves removing all traces of offending drugs from the abuser’s system. As most people are aware, withdrawal can be an unpleasant process. What some do not realize, however, is that it can be a fatal one if not properly managed. The human body, once dependent upon drugs like Ambien or meth or cocaine, reacts badly when the substance is withdrawn abruptly. A drug detox program is designed to ease the addict through that vital and often nasty phase of recovery, to clear the body of drugs without triggering seizures, anxiety, or any of a host of other debilitating or dangerous symptoms.

A properly-managed detox program is usually administered on an inpatient or, for mild addictions, an outpatient basis through a qualified drug detox center. This is not usually a general medical practice. Many addictions, especially to modern prescription drugs, present a host of symptoms and side effects that require specialized knowledge and deep experience to successfully treat. Meth addiction, for instance, is especially insidious, exerting a powerful hold on the addict even after the physical detoxification process is complete. Physical drug detox, therefore, is just the start of a comprehensive and long-term program of recovery.
Most drug detox programs aim to ease the addict through the initial recovery phase. This is accomplished by substituting certain other drugs in carefully controlled quantities and for a strictly regulated period of time, until all traces of cocaine or meth are flushed out of the user’s system. Barbiturates and benzodiazepines are the general drug classes used for this, and each carries a high risk of dependency in themselves if not properly managed. It is, therefore, imperative that addicts be closely monitored through the drug detox process, especially if it is being conducted on an outpatient basis, to ensure that they don’t trade one addiction for another.
An addict should not consider herself “clean” just because the drug is gone from her system. There remains the underlying emotional dependency, and whatever social or psychological problems drove the addiction to begin with. Drug detox only begins with getting clean; it must strive for staying clean to be effective. Physical detoxification is therefore accompanied by a long period of counseling to help the addict through the rocky business of confronting his or her personal demons and learning to manage them without the help of drugs.
Drug detox is only complete when the drug addict has modified his behavior and attitude toward drugs. This process of self-transformation which began with withdrawal ends happily when the addict has broken the pattern of self-destructive behavior and learned how to live drug-free. It is never too late to begin.

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