Entering any alcohol or drug rehab can be a very difficult, but life changing decision. Admitting you or your loved one has a problem and reaching out for help is the first step towards recovery and is a significant act of courage and strength. Drug and alcohol addiction can be a confusing, painful, uncomfortable and stigmatized disease, but there are rehabilitation centres all across the country with some of the leading facilities right here in British Columbia. Seeking treatment is the first step towards recovery.
The second step is often a process of detox. Detoxification from drugs and alcohol can be uncomfortable, but the withdrawal period is temporary. Medications can be used short term to ease the symptoms of withdrawal and make the detox process less daunting. The severity of physical symptoms caused by alcohol and drug withdrawal can vary for each individual depending on their previous frequency and duration of use, as well as the substances they had been abusing and any pre-existing medical conditions. Some withdrawal symptoms can include insomnia, muscle and headaches, nausea, sweating, tremors, vomiting, and anxiety. Patients attending residential addiction treatment at abstinence based alcohol and drug rehabs on Vancouver Island can be supported through their detox period with withdrawal medication and a medical team consisting of addiction medicine physicians, nurses and support staff. Medications for detox purposes not only make the process more bearable, but can also aid in preventing serious, life-threatening symptoms such a seizures, delirium tremens (DTs), heart attacks and strokes. Medications provided for withdrawal symptoms are given on a short term, individualized basis. The addiction detoxification medications provided in treatment vary depending on the substances previously used.
A patient detoxing from alcohol may be prescribed diazepam, lorazepam, or other benzodiazepines to relieve some of the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are also addictive substances and for a detox process should only be used under the supervision of an addiction medicine professional. These medications are typically only required for a few days.
An individual withdrawing from heroin, morphine and other opiates may require buprenorphine (Suboxone) to safely taper off of these substances. An abstinence based addiction treatment centre would have a primary goal of supporting a patient with buprenorphine short term through their withdrawal period to comfortably transition them towards the next step in their treatment program.
Withdrawal and detox medication is not always necessary or recommended. These medications are also only typically used for the detox process and because of their addictive and mood altering properties are not recommended as a replacement drug. It is possible for all individuals suffering from addiction to live an abstinence based life of recovery. If you have questions about the need for medications during a detox process it is best to follow the recommendations of an Addiction Medicine Physician in Victoria Nanaimo or Vancouver, BC or one in your local area. If you are unable to locate a rehab professional there are many referral services online or you can request a referral from your family physician. Individuals recovering from alcohol and drug addiction will have the best chance at a life of recovery if the detox process is followed by a residential or outpatient addiction treatment program or addiction support group. Detox is just one step in the process to a life of sustained recovery.