All drugs of abuse affect your body and brain, and can greatly damage certain body systems. This impact can alter your ability to maintain a healthy and fulfilling quality of life.
However, due to the different chemical makeup of each drug, not all substances require extensive medical detox. Medical detox is a process which typically integrates medication-assisted treatment to lessen symptoms of withdrawal.
Opioids are a class of drugs which have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Due to the way these drugs alter a person’s functioning and chemical balance, supervised medical detox is essential for health.
At Swift River, we understand the breadth of needs and circumstances that may bring you or your loved one to us for treatment. We integrate a physician-supervised medical detox into our individualized care to provide you with the best chance of recovery from opioid addiction.
What Are Opioids?
The terms “opiates” and “opioids” are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. As explained by Yale Medicine, “opiate” is a term for drugs synthesized directly from the opium poppy. “Opioid” is a more inclusive term, covering opiates and also those which mimic the properties of these drugs. These include synthetic or semi-synthetic versions of prescription opioid analgesics (painkillers).
This broad category includes natural opiate derivatives such as opium, morphine, and heroin, and a wide variety of commonly abused prescription drugs, including those containing fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone or oxycodone. We will refer to the drugs in the broad sense, using the term opioids.
How Do Opioids Exert Their Impact?
Drugs within this class depress the central nervous system by attaching to your body and brain’s opioid receptors. The connections occurring at these sites are responsible for pleasure, moderating pain, reacting and responding to stress and emotions, reward and the control of the autonomic system, the system that largely dictates the functions of various internal organs.
You may be surprised to learn that humans have naturally occurring opioid receptor sites for our body’s own opioid chemicals. One of these naturally occurring versions (termed endogenous opioids) called endorphins is a chemical used within your body’s pain-fighting defenses.
The processes involving these opioid receptor sites are altered by the presence of the drug. Due to this, your body alters the production of its own versions. With prolonged abuse, this production is even more radically impaired. In fact, the body becomes dependent on the influx of chemicals from drug abuse. This is how abuse causes addiction.
When an individual suddenly ceases this drug abuse, the body is left with an absence of the opioid chemicals, which results in uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
What Are The Signs Of Opioid Withdrawal?
Opioid withdrawal can become unbearable, as a person’s mental, physical and emotional states all become strained during this time. Certain circumstances connected to opioid withdrawal may be fatal. It is of the utmost importance that a person never suddenly stop using their drug of abuse, at least not without assistance.
Risks arise from unsupervised withdrawal— including the possibility of relapse. Cravings can become intense during withdrawal, and without proper support, a person may return to opioids as a means to stop the symptoms of withdrawal.
Signs of withdrawal include:
- Achy muscles
- Agitation or anxiety
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps
- Teary eyes or runny nose
If you, or a loved one, witness any of these signs, seek help immediately. Also, if you are ready for sobriety, the support and expert care of a medical detox will help you fulfill this goal. Swift River’s comprehensive treatment program offers this level of care.
What Is A Medical Detox?
A medical detox aids a person in finding the best measure of comfort while the body works towards removing the damaging chemicals from its system, breaking the grip of dependence.
Detox from opioids can be a demanding process, which is why we strongly recommend that a person never attempt to withdraw on their own. While detox may be draining, our staff seeks to alleviate or reduce any painful or unbearable symptoms by utilizing effective evidence-based care.
A medically-supervised detox:
- Addresses physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal
- Attends to any emotional concerns
- Gradually weans a person off of the opioid drug
- Utilizes various medications to achieve these goals
- May provide necessary nutritive support
- Provides companionship and comfort during this time through staff support and involvement
- Helps to protect a person from relapsing
- Prepares a person for the next stage of treatment
At Swift River, we recognize that a medical detox and evidenced-based care go hand in hand. Together, these facets of our exceptional program work towards ensuring your best chance at obtaining a drug-free life.
What Medications Are Used In Detox?
Due to the severity of opioid addictions, medication-assisted therapy is the cornerstone of our opioid detox. This foundational treatment pairs two evidence-based approaches—medications and behavioral therapy—to achieve maximum effectiveness. This approach may continue into treatment, as our staff may utilize various medications to address specific concerns, including those symptoms which exist due to a co-occurring disorder.
Our primary medication used within detox is low-dose Suboxone (buprenorphine). Suboxone works in several ways during this process, including by easing a person’s transition through withdrawal, by reducing cravings, and by blocking or significantly reducing the opioid effect.
Depending on a person’s specific physical and mental health needs, other medications may be used to treat a co-occurring disorder or to alleviate certain symptoms associated with withdrawal, such as anxiety, depression, or any other mood instability.
Medications and therapy are crucial elements within detox and the treatment beyond. Yet the simple, profound human-to-human interactions gained from time spent with our compassionate staff and the support of loved ones also greatly aid an individual during this time.
Medical detox is only the first step towards wellness, balance, and sobriety. After a person successfully detoxes, we highly recommend continuing pursuit of sobriety by enrolling in an evidenced-based treatment program, such as the one we are so proud to offer you, here at Swift River.
Embrace Better Health And A Drug-Free Life
Though opioid addictions can be some of the most severe, they are not without treatment options. At Swift River, we understand how confusing and overwhelming this time may be, whether you are the addicted individual or a supportive loved one.
Our staff is highly committed to providing you with the most effective and attentive individualized care. Contact us today and begin your recovery journey.
- Neurology — Endogenous Opioid Systems