Breaking down the Detox phase
Upon admission to the Las Vegas treatment center, most clients need to enter the detox phase Detox is literally ridding the toxins from your body to bring it back to homeostasis (or normalcy). Depending on the type, amount, your age, size, family history, and for how long, your time in detox will vary. In addition, your age, ethnicity, and gender may also play a part in the detox process.
It is imperative that you DO NOT attempt to detox without medical supervision. If you cannot for whatever reason detox at a treatment center, please check into a hospital. There are sights on the internet which tell you how to “safely detox from home.” While it is possible to detox from home, it is not safe to do so unless a trained medical person is with you at all times.
Detoxes vary with substances. The most common are alcohol and opioids. Both of these substances are carefully monitored by a medical team.
Depending on the number of substances you have taken and the time you have been using, your alcohol detox can be approximately 3-14 days. There are degrees of severity of alcohol abuse, and if not controlled, the withdrawals may end you up in the hospital. Being completely honest with the treatment team and medical staff up front is important for your well-being throughout your stay, starting with detox. The staff is there to assist you and treat the existing conditions to the best of their ability.
Withdrawal symptoms for alcohol may include:
- Mood swings
- Heart palpitations
- Physical tremors
- Appetite loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Excessive sweating
- Excessive fatigue/sleep
- Body aches
If these seem daunting, don’t despair. Every day gets better. There are specific wellness- based treatments through the alcohol detox phase that your medical and clinical staff will specifically be able to help you with.
Like alcohol, heroin and other opioids ( Codeine, Hydrocodone, Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Morphine, eg.) detoxification will be closely monitored and charted every few hours by on sight staff to ensure your safety. Your vital signs and overall appearance will be evaluated and addressed, especially for the first 48 hours. The MD and/or nursing staff will keep in contact with the treatment team in case any issues arise that will need additional help.
Withdrawal symptoms from opiates may include:
- Body aches
- Overall discomfort
- Bowel issues
- Nausea & vomiting.
- Inability to sleep
Your recovery facility will have its own policies regarding medical detox with heroin. There are some centers which use methadone as a taper, some suboxone, some clonidine only. There are medical reasons why treatment centers do and do not support some of these drugs, largely because of the controversy that the client will still need to detox from methadone and suboxone, although many places do see these as necessary tapers, as decreasing and coming down gradually from heroin.
Treatment centers are very accustomed to assisting opioid users and understand the symptoms and challenges of withdrawal. Most places will allow for sweets during the withdrawal, as some sugars may help while a person is detoxing from this particular substance.
Why aren’t meth users covered under insurance for detox?
This is certainly a good question since someone detoxing from meth will go through similar symptoms of alcohol and heroin (except that they will get an increase, rather than a decrease in appetite). However, detoxing from meth is seen as something much less severe by the insurance companies and will most likely not be covered. This doesn’t mean you won’t need to, and the rehab knows this.
If you are detoxing from crystal meth, you will still be medically monitored and receive updates with the medical staff, though you will most likely be expected to join groups and individual sessions earlier than your peers who are detoxing from other substances.
Out of the detox phase, still feeling bad?
Yes, this happens. You may request a follow up with the treatment center’s MD and/or meet with the psychiatrist to adjust any medication now that you body is returning to homeostasis. You can expect that the first few days of alcohol detox is the most challenging. Often times post physical detox, a person can have emotional or psychological issues. Some mental health diagnosis won’t show up until the client is medically cleared as drug use an often mask or assume a mental illness.
Below is an approximate guideline of what to expect while in detox from alcohol.
At the time of admissions to 12 hours after the last drink: you may experience tremors, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, excessive sweating and an upset stomach. These symptoms are common and will decrease, as others will be introduced.
- 12-24 hours: this is when a body will be at its physiological peak of attempting to rid the toxins from alcohol and when increased symptoms are presenting such as:
- audio and visual hallucinations
- severe anxiety including panic attacks
- possible seizures
- 24-72 hours: most symptoms will decrease altogether or in severity. Feelings of restlessness, anxiety, insomnia and mood irritability may continue, though often in lesser degrees. The most severe drinkers may experience delirium tremens during this period. Delirium tremens are an increase in heart rate, sweats, hallucinations, obscure thinking, major anxiety, and debilitating seizures that can lead to hospitalization. There is a mortality rate of 25% average for severe drinkers who experience delirium tremens during alcohol detox. Fortunately, clients in detox are closely monitored by the doctor due to this and they will prescribe preventative medication.
What happens if I seize?
If you happen to seize during the detox phase which sometimes does occur, an ambulance will be immediately called and taken to the hospital. The hospital staff will be in direct contact with the treatment facility in regards to your progress. You will be closely monitored and upon release will return to the treatment facility when deemed safe to continue with the program. Average stays in the hospital due to seizure is 12-24 hours, depending on your overall condition. Anti-seizure medications will be prescribed.
After 5 days, the body adjusts to a mostly functional homeostasis and most symptoms greatly decrease but not altogether. Often people experience psychological and emotional challenges that will require additional assistance. Others have a syndrome termed “wet brain” and have actually consumed so much that there is a type of brain damage that can cause cognitive thinking problems, speech impairment, and physical imbalances. Post detox for alcohol is exponentially successful when the recovering alcoholic has a solid support group and an ongoing treatment plan.
What are common medications that are prescribed?
During your stay at a recovery center, the medical staff understands that prevention of physical damages is key to determine a successful alcohol detox. This is often done through medication.
- Types of common medication that may be given for alcohol detox are lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonazepam (Klonopin), oxazepam, and gabapentin.
What should I eat during detox?
First and foremost, drink a lot of water! The best way to rid the toxins is to flush them out of your system. Many people entering the detox phase are dehydrated and already are in need of water. To be hydrated there is a simple formula you can follow: ½ oz- ¾ oz of water = one pound of body weight. So if you weigh 165 pounds, you need 82-125 ounces A DAY to be completely hydrated. That’s 10-12 8 oz glasses per day, much more than many of us consume on a daily basis, let alone during detox.
Food should be clean, organic, and light meals to start out with if you have had bowel discomfort or nausea through detox. Fruit or vegetable smoothies with added electrolytes are commonly ingested during detox and throughout your stay at the treatment center.
Consider the entire residential stay during recovery is technically a detox, though it wo n’t be classified as such per insurance standards. Understand that your body needs more time than just a few days to adjust and to expect biophysical and psychological changes to occur throughout your stay and thereafter.
Your 5-Star chef or treatment facility nutritionist will specifically design a detox menu for you, with the input from the medical team.
An often hidden and overlooked (non- illegal) substance that effects detox is sugar. Sugar in itself is highly addictive and causes a myriad of health issues. Alcohol is high in sugar, therefore you may find yourself craving sugar as you are detoxing from alcohol. Replacing refined sugars with natural sugars (fruit) can be a needed dietary transition during this phase. Talking openly to the clinical staff and journaling is important to stay on track. Try to look at what you can eat, rather then what you can’t. Most treatment centers will not allow certain food and drink items to be on the premises: such as sodas, candies and other sweets.
It is a good idea to discuss dietary considerations with admissions and what their food plan is so you can feel at ease as you are in recovery.
Am I allowed to participate in the program while I’m detoxing?
In order to participate in the carefully designed program at the treatment center, you will have to obtain a medical clearance. You will meet with a staff member who will take vital information from you upon admittance, and this may take a few hours. After that, staff will be assigned to you and you will meet with doctors and therapists to determine a treatment plan. During the detox phase, items will be discussed with the team to decide on medical clearance. If there are off-site activities which may be too taxing on you, but you can sit and participate in a group session at the residency, you may receive what’s called a “partial medical clearance.” Until you receive a full medical clearance, some programming will be restricted.
What happens if I can’t get out of bed during detox?
It may seem as if you cannot get out of bed while you are in withdrawals. However, it is often times that you will feel better if you do. Try and keep an open mind to be able to join groups in session, or sitting at meal time with your peers, even if you aren’t hungry, can speed up the detox process. If you need to stay in bed for a longer time than the staff believes you need, you may be given another medical assessment and if needed, taken down a level and end up in the hospital. Most times detoxing is worsened by a negative outlook and psychological stressors which can inhibit getting better sooner.
Will I be able to see the doctor after detox?
Yes, you can always request to see the doctor, however, if it’s not deemed a medical emergency or if your symptoms have persisted more than 72 hours and have not gotten better, you may either be taken to the hospital or the doctor will see you. Typically, the MD will make their rounds at the treatment facility once a week for short check-ups.
If you need anything that requires physical attention, you can get referrals from the doctor at the treatment center. Specialized treatments may be covered partially by your insurance and sometimes not at all, so please arrange to speak to your insurance company prior to scheduling. In addition, if it is a cosmetic and not an urgent doctor’s appointment, you may have to wait until leaving residential, and/or arrange for your own transportation only during times programming isn’t going on. For instance, if you want to see a dentist for a cleaning it may have to wait as opposed to needing a root canal, etc.
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