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Engaging In a Detox Program

The disease of addiction affects clients in a threefold manner: physically, mentally & spiritually. The first phase of drug rehab is engaging in a detox program as a means to safely undergo withdrawal management services, breaking the physical dependence of drugs. It’s important to understand that clients are not only faced with a psychological drive associated with the urge to continue to drink or use drugs, but are also met with a need to avoid the very real, somatic and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Enlisting the help of a drug and alcohol detox allows for the cessation of use while under close medical monitoring by a specialized treatment team. Talk therapy performed

Patient entering a drug detox program to help with her addiction

on an outpatient basis is certainly an effective strategy in developing insight and relapse prevention skills during the later stages of addiction treatment however it is not sufficient as a form of withdrawal management. With individualized treatment plans and oversight by physicians specializing in addiction medicine, CIVIQ Health offers access to the premier inpatient drug detox centers in PA.

Importance of a Medical Detox Facility

Inpatient medical detox facilities are equipped to safely manage withdrawal symptoms, allowing clients to be comfortable while developing a comprehensive treatment plan. Withdrawal symptoms vary from client to client but range from slightly uncomfortable to severely painful, with the added possibility of life-threatening complications. In short, once clients have developed a physical dependence, their Central Nervous System cannot adapt to the lack of drugs or alcohol, thereby causing often agonizing withdrawal symptoms.

Monitoring symptoms during a drug and alcohol detox must be done by a medical professional and will often utilize clinical tools to measure the severity. Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol (CIWA) and Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) are an effective means to assess detox symptoms on an individualized basis. Every client’s needs are unique and cookie cutter treatment plans during inpatient drug detox programs are not only ineffective but potentially dangerous. A 200 pound otherwise healthy young male drinking 1 or 2 beers a few times a week does not require the same clinical and pharmacological interventions that would be needed to treat a chronically ill, elderly woman taking large amounts of prescription medication.

Measuring the Risk of Withdrawal

The Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol (CIWA) has become a standardized measurement tool to assess withdrawal risk and complications while enrolled in an inpatient medical detox facility. The scale measures the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Auditory disturbances
  • Visual disturbances
  • Incapacity to think clearly
  • Headache
  • Uncontrolled sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tactile disturbances
  • Tremors

The CIWA can be a powerful tool in management of withdrawal symptoms when performed under the supervision of a professional of addiction medicine.

The Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) is a tool that’s geared towards alleviating withdrawal symptoms during drug detox programs and slightly different from a CIWA scale. During opioid drug detox programs, the following symptoms are rated and quantified:

  • Resting pulse rate
  • Sweating
  • GI Upset
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Yawning
  • Pupil size
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Bone or joint aches
  • Gooseflesh skin
  • Runny nose or tearing

Unfortunately, a dedicated scale for sedative withdrawal has not yet been established but it can be and is often documented using the CIWA scale. Sedative withdrawal can range from mild to severe, with the most intense symptoms to include panic attacks, seizures and hallucinations. The withdrawal symptoms associated with sedatives, including benzodiazepines, is often broken down into stages:

  • Early Withdrawal: Increased pulse and blood pressure, anxiety, panic attacks, restlessness, and gastrointestinal upset.
  • Mid Withdrawal: Progressing to include tremor, fever, diaphoresis, insomnia, anorexia, and diarrhea.
  • Late Withdrawal: If left untreated, a delirium may develop with hallucinations, changes in consciousness, profound agitation, autonomic instability, seizures, and death

Taking notice of the dangers associated in the late withdrawal stage, it’s important to not attempt a risky at-home detox but rather seek the stability of an inpatient drug detox facility.

Drug and alcohol detox is an important phase in clients’ recovery as it’s imperative to break free from the physical dependence of all substances. Keep in mind, the completion of a full continuum of care is met with the most positive outcomes.