Medical detox at Centres for Health and Healing

Alcohol Detox Ontario

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The process of drug or alcohol withdrawal is a profoundly challenging experience for people wanting to abstain from substance abuse.

In an instance where an individual’s body becomes dependent on a substance, they often require some form of addiction treatment and alcohol detox process to combat their alcohol and drug abuse.

What is meant by alcohol detox?

Broadly speaking, medical detoxification (or what is informally known as detox) includes the guidance and management of moderate to severe, often painful, symptoms that are frequently experienced with substance withdrawal.

Centres for Health and Healing offers our clients a fully comprehensive treatment facility specialising in alcohol detox management within a clinical environment under medical supervision and guidance.

Medically supervised alcohol detox

Throughout your medically assisted detox program, you will be given medication designed to reduce withdrawal symptoms, which will help you cope with uncomfortable or severe symptoms you commonly experience as your body acclimates to having no alcohol or drugs in the system.

Medical detox is often the first step in any addiction treatment program. For your safety and that of your loved ones, all experiencing detoxification should receive medically monitored supervision.

What exactly is alcohol and drug withdrawal?

Drug or alcohol use disorder (IDC-9) can often produce profound, accelerating psychological and physical dependence.

When attempting to cut down on their alcohol and drug consumption, individuals often experience a sequence of physical and emotional symptoms, particularly if they decide to stop abruptly.

Highly addictive substances such as drugs and alcohol often change the brain’s chemistry, while regular use of substances often creates a high tolerance and often substantial and perilous dependency.

The “pleasure chemical” and dependency

When adjusting to the alcohol or drugs in a person’s system, the brain’s dopamine receptors (the reward system) become overwhelmed. The brain’s reward centre releases dopamine in response to something ‘pleasurable’, but this same part of your brain is also linked to memory and motivation.

With the release of dopamine, your brain then takes into consideration what prompted the sensation (food, substance, sex or other behaviours), as well as the environment that may have triggered this response (did it occur in isolation or with friends? What else were you doing?) When exposed again to those same environmental components, you will begin to feel the drive to seek out that same reward response.

Research shows that dopamine is also partly responsible for developing tolerance (Diana M, 2011.) Therefore, it’s equally responsible for developing the need to use more of your substance of choice in order to achieve the desired “high”.

The brain then tries to solve this problem by decreasing dopamine production or reducing dopamine receptors. This causes the brain to have a weaker response to the same amount of substance. However, despite the decrease in pleasure, the urge to use remains.

With that in mind, when someone decides to suddenly cut down or quit drugs or alcohol entirely, particularly without the guidance of a medical provider, it can create significant brain-chemical fluctuations that may be experienced as mild or severe withdrawal symptoms.

Mental health

Chronic use of addictive substances can lead to both short- and long-term changes to the brain. Post-detox, these changes tend to be heightened and can lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, aggression, paranoia and even hallucinations.

Why is alcohol detox in a treatment centre so necessary?

The benefits of alcohol detox are crucial to helping someone with mental disorders such as alcoholism or drug abuse. Detoxing and going ‘cold turkey’ without supervision under the guidance of treatment providers is ill-advised and can be hazardous and life-threatening and can cause mental and physical symptoms and side-effects such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Disorientation and dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Restlessness and restless leg syndrome
  • Severe muscle aches
  • Decreased muscular control
  • Nightmares or strange dreams

One of the worst symptoms of drug and alcohol detox is uncontrollable seizures that can be fatal without an addiction professional’s proper guidance and supervision.

CFHH’s alcohol detox facility Ontario

At Centres for Health and Healing, each of our clients undergoing an addiction treatment program will get thoroughly assessed by a treatment provider. 

All this will be to determine if they need to enrol in a medical detox at the hospital or whether they can safely undergo detoxification at an inpatient facility at a specific treatment centre like ours.

Substance Abuse Treatment Ontario

The withdrawal process and the symptoms that can occur as a result of undergoing a complete detox all depend on several crucial factors:

  • The type of substance being used
  • The severity of the addiction and substance abuse
  • How the substance is taken, e.g. is it getting swallowed, snorted, smoked or injected?
  • Family history and genetic makeup
  • Length of time that the substance abuse has occurred
  • The amount of substance taken at any one time

What does the alcohol detox process involve?

Depending on the severity of the addiction and certain symptoms, medical detox at a detox centre can take seven to ten days.

That said, there are variables to how long a detox program at a rehab centre can last, such as the ones mentioned above.

Typically, medical detox involves a three-step approach:

#1. Evaluation

During the evaluation stage, a medical practitioner thoroughly evaluates the patient and screens them for physical and mental health issues.

The doctor will also examine an individual’s complete medical history and order a blood test if necessary to determine the amount of substance in the person’s system as well as appropriate organ functioning (liver).

From the results, the medical practitioner will then decide if any detox medication or prescription medications are needed and how much is required to treat any severe withdrawal symptoms.

The doctor will also spend significant time reviewing a patient’s drug, psychiatric and medical history. The medical team may also conduct other tests, such as checking for high blood pressure.

#2. Stabilization

The second step for medical staff is to stabilize the patient following the patient’s detoxification plan constructed by the doctor. The medical staff ensure that each patient has been educated on their plan as well as what to expect during the detoxification period. 

The aim is to prevent any harm or life-threatening side effects as the person’s body rids itself of a substance.

At this stage, the medical practitioner may prescribe medications to help reduce and alleviate painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

#3. Preparation

As soon as the patient is stabilized and responds well to medical detox treatment, the third step is to prepare for an inpatient individualized treatment program based on the client’s individual needs.

Although a crucial part of addiction treatment, medical detox is not a quick fix and won’t stop someone from abusing substances. Detoxification is the first step in a complex journey to successful recovery from alcohol or drug addiction.

A specific treatment provider at the CFHH will spend time with patients discussing treatment options and what they may need for successful, long-term recovery to prevent relapse in the future.

What symptoms are associated with drug and alcohol withdrawal?

Each patient will experience drug and alcohol withdrawal differently, and the side effects of withdrawal vary from mild to severe.

Typically, the substance withdrawal timeline looks like this:

Six hours after stopping a substance

Broadly speaking, withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as six hours after your last use of a substance. The symptoms you experience during this time can be mild or moderate.

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Shaky hands
  • Sweating

Twelve to forty-eight hours after stopping a substance

After more time passes, the withdrawal symptoms become intensified as the neural systems in your brain get adjusted to having no substance in the body. Common symptoms at this stage include:

  • Seizures
  • Severe shaking or trembling
  • Insomnia
  • Heavy sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Hallucinations

Forty-eight to seventy-two hours after stopping a substance

Within three days of stopping a substance, the withdrawal symptoms have the potential to become excruciating and life-threatening. All this is particularly the case in chronic, long-term substance use.

During this detox phase, many patients benefit from medical intervention to cope with the painful and debilitating withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms often experienced in this stage of medical detox are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Racing heart
  • Confusion
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Muscle spasms
  • Excessive sweating
  • Agitation
  • Delusions
  • Depressed mood and mood swings
  • Paranoid anxiety
  • Delirium tremens (DTs)
  • Overwhelming craving for the substance

How do you treat withdrawal?

People at risk of severe or life-threatening withdrawal from long-term substance use usually get prescribed medication to soothe discomfort and prevent withdrawal symptoms from worsening, all of which minimize the risk of physical or psychological health implications.

Medication prescribed for withdrawal symptoms at the treatment centre will be administered under medical supervision.

The medication prescribed will depend on the substance abused, the duration of abuse, the severity of a person’s addiction, as well as medical and genetic factors.

Commonly used drugs in an alcohol or drug addiction program include:

  • Benzodiazepines – Often referred to as benzos, these are sedatives that contain diazepam and chlordiazepoxide. At a treatment facility, patients receive either loading cases of benzos every one to two hours or when the symptoms are severe enough. Benzos can lead to dependence issues, so your medical practitioner will wean you off them once you have stabilized.
  • Anticonvulsants – This type of treatment is designed to treat seizures ranging from mild to moderate with anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine. However, some anticonvulsants may not be effective in severe cases such as life-threatening seizures.
  • Clonidine and beta-blockers – These types of medication manage autonomic arousals such as high body temperature and hypertension. They often get prescribed in conjunction with benzodiazepine.
  • Antipsychotics – Antipsychotics treat delusions, agitation and hallucinations that often occur during drug or alcohol withdrawal. Medical supervision is required when antipsychotics are used for substance withdrawal. These drugs occasionally lower the seizure threshold, making the patient more at risk of life-threatening seizures.
  • Suboxone – Suboxone is used to treat opioid dependence. This drug is made with 80% buprenorphine, a partial opioid antagonist and 20% Naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opioids. Suboxone provides relief from withdrawal symptoms due to buprenorphine which binds to activating receptors in the brain, while naloxone keeps the body from experiencing any sort of ‘high’.

Disclaimer: People must note that information on medical detox is for educational purposes only. Professional treatment advice must get sought for any medication used for alcohol and drug detox. In addition, any after-care treatment must get prescribed and supervised by a medical doctor who can provide medical advice and specialize in addiction treatment.

Alcohol detox program at Centres for Health and Healing, Ontario

Centres for Health and Healing offers a fully comprehensive medical detoxification in a safe and supportive environment.

Centres for Health and Healing also offers an addiction therapy and rehab program that is personalized and unique to each individual’s needs.

Our treatment centre’s caring approach offers cutting-edge, customized treatments that focus specifically on each individual’s mental health and/or substance abuse disorder requirements.

With our diverse treatment methods, strategic approach and experienced staff, Centres for Health and Healing provides the platform and the necessary tools to create deep transformational healing and long-term recovery.

We take pride in the success of our addiction therapy and rehab program and are more than happy to provide any information you may need.

The first step to living a healthy, successful life is to admit you have a problem that will ultimately lead you on the path of healing and recovery.

If you are experiencing problems with drug or alcohol abuse or are worried about a loved one, please get in touch to discuss treatment options.

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