Most people facing withdrawal symptoms might think it's a good idea to grit their teeth and detox cold turkey.
In many cases, this is a huge mistake.
Medical detoxification doesn't just make alcohol or drug withdrawal more comforting or easier – it can save lives.
Despite what some people say, medical detox isn't "cheating" and it doesn't increase your risk for relapsing.
Far from it: a medically supervised drug or alcohol detoxification treatment can put you on the best path for recovery.
What is Medical Detoxification Treatment?
During medical detox at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, you'll receive medication to reduce withdrawal symptoms under supervision from professionals.
Programs vary in length depending on the detoxification center and your personal needs. Some patients may only need a five-day detox while others may require a slightly longer stay at around 10 days.
The purpose of detox is to break chemical dependency. After that, it's important to seek comprehensive recovery options for addressing mental health conditions and the behavior of addiction.
The Importance of Using a Detoxification Center for Withdrawal Symptoms
Our detox medications don't just alleviate the painful symptoms of withdrawal, but they can also prevent life-threatening effects.
A chemical dependency is just that – a dependency.
Once you've consumed a particular substance for an extended period of time, your body requires that substance to function properly.
Without it, the consequences can become deadly.
Alcohol and Delirium Tremens Syndrome
Although alcohol is probably the most accessible substance on this list, its withdrawal symptoms are also the deadliest.
As a depressant, alcohol slows down the central nervous system (CNS).
When you consume alcohol on a regular basis for several days, weeks, months, or years, your brain and nervous system adapt to the substance in your system. Your CNS starts working harder to keep your body awake and alert during this depressive state.
As you take alcohol out of the equation, your CNS continues working overtime.
Alcohol withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable and symptoms arise just six hours after your last drink.
Beyond the usual anxiety, insomnia, and increased heart rate, seizures and hallucinations are also common. Life-threatening symptoms include heart attack, dehydration, stroke, and head injuries from seizures.
Symptoms of delirium tremens syndrome aka DTs usually begin two or three days after your last drink. During delirium tremens syndrome, you'll experience vivid hallucinations, fever, high blood pressure, and heavy sweating.
Benzodiazepines and Seizures
Similar to alcohol, these prescription drugs act as depressants on the CNS. Benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium can also produce life-threatening symptoms like seizures and tremors.
Other uncomfortable symptoms may include hallucinations, psychosis, sleep problems, muscle pain, and severe panic attacks.
Although withdrawal from other drugs is extremely painful and uncomfortable, it's usually not life-threatening.
However, heart attacks, stroke, and seizures are not unheard of during other withdrawal periods.
- Opiates including heroin and prescription drugs: vomiting, nausea, severe anxiety, restlessness, sweating
- Cocaine, amphetamines, and methamphetamines: lethargy, severe depression, paranoia, hallucinations, anxiety
- Other drugs: Withdrawal symptoms may be unexpected when a person combines drugs or takes homemade club drugs.
4 Signs You Need Alcohol or Drug Detoxification
Although alcohol and other drug withdrawal can be life-threatening, you may not necessarily require medical detoxification treatment.
It's important to understand your addiction and dependence history. When in doubt, call a treatment center like Chicago Lakeshore Hospital to discuss your symptoms, use, and options.
Here are a few signs you might need alcohol or drug detoxification under medical supervision.
You Have Other Medical Conditions or Complications
Many people consume alcohol and drugs as self-medication for physical pain, depression, anxiety, or coping with other conditions.
Months or years of abuse often cause additional medical complications such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It's important you have direct access to medical treatment during this time.
A medically assisted detoxification treatment at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital can keep you safe during the withdrawal period.
You Regularly Consume Alcohol
If you regularly consume alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other depressants, you should definitely not try to detox at home without medical assistance.
During detox, your CNS shoots into overdrive. This can cause seizures, heart attacks, tremors, stroke, dehydration, and other complications due to high heart rate and blood pressure.
You're Worried You Won't Make It Through Detox Without Relapsing
Before detoxing, people addicted to opiates often say, "if only I could make it through detox, I'd be ready for recovery."
Recovery from drugs and alcohol is certainly a long road that continues long beyond the initial detox. However, they aren't wrong when they mention how difficult it is to get through opiate withdrawal without relapsing.
A medically assisted detoxification center can ease withdrawal so you can focus on recovery instead of intense physical discomfort.
You've Been Dependent for Long Time and Fear Withdrawal
Drug withdrawal is excruciating and uncomfortable – the English language doesn't even contain the right words to describe this type of pain.
You're right to fear withdrawal: it doesn't mean you're "cheating" by wanting to ease your detox period.
Even if you don't meet all the symptoms above, you may still benefit in the long run from a medical detox program at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital.
Medical detoxification can reduce your risk for relapse by providing a safe place for managing your withdrawal symptoms.
Medical Detox at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital
Chicago Lakeshore Hospital understands the horror of alcohol and drug detoxification. As a dual-dependency treatment center, we offer personalized medical detox catered to each patient's needs.
Our program lasts between 5 and 10 days depending on substance use and dependence history. Inpatient treatment may follow medical detoxification for patients who used drugs or alcohol as self-medication for mental health conditions.