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What Medications Are Used for Drug and Alcohol Detox?

When someone goes into withdrawal, it can be extremely uncomfortable. Medications used for drug and alcohol detox serve a few purposes. First, they make the process safer. Then, they make the process more comfortable as well.

But what are the medications used in the protocol for alcohol or drug detox? The medications used during the withdrawal, or detoxification process make it so the individual has a better opportunity to complete the process and begin recovery.

Medications Used in Alcohol Detox

Alcohol withdrawal has a potential to be life-threatening, and sometimes it can turn out to be fatal. This is why it is vital to go through alcohol detox while being monitored by a medical professional. The symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include nausea and vomiting that can result in dehydration, and there is a potential risk of seizures occurring.

Delirium tremens is also a dangerous symptom of alcohol withdrawal in which someone could potentially experience hallucinations, paranoia, and confusion. Medications used for alcohol detox fend these symptoms off, and help the individual to avoid potentially dangerous side effects.

Also, medications proven to be efficient for alcohol detox include:

  • Benzodiazepines: affect the same parts of the brain as alcohol, and can alleviate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
  • Barbiturates: not as commonly used due to their long half-life, and addictive properties.
  • Anti-seizure medications: still being studied, anticonvulsants have been shown to be effective when used to treat withdrawal symptoms. 
  • Beta blockers: mainly used to control heart rate. 
  • Antipsychotics: used to alleviate hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions.

Medications Used in Stimulant Detox

Medications used in stimulant drug detox can include medications like aripiprazole, which is an antipsychotic. It can help mitigate symptoms like disturbed thinking, emotional turmoil, and depression. These symptoms are associated with ending the abuse of stimulant drugs like methamphetamines.

This drug affects the brain in such a way that psychosis can occur when the drug has been abused for long periods of time, and may become prevalent when it is taken away. Other medications used in drug detox from stimulants include clonidine, and antidepressants. Clonidine can help manage blood pressure, and antidepressants help to alleviate some of the mental health symptoms that can occur. 

Medications Used in Opioid Detox

Opioid detox can be extremely uncomfortable. The physical dependence on the drug can lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and joint pain, insomnia, depression, and anxiety among other symptoms. This can make it extremely difficult to stick out the process without having the symptoms being medically monitored and treated.

Medications used in opioid drug detox can alleviate the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Additionally, it can make the process easier and smoother so that those undergoing the process can stick it out and begin a life of recovery. Some of the medications used in drug detox from opioids can include buprenorphine, methadone, naltrexone, and clonidine.

All of these meds can help manage heart rate, and other symptoms of opioid detox. However, all but clonidine can block the effects that opioids produce if they were to be used. Essentially, taking medications for opioid detox like suboxone, naltrexone, and methadone and then using opioids will not result in the desired effects. 

Medications Used in Prescription Medication Detox

Prescription medications that are often abused include benzodiazepines, opioids, and stimulants like adderall. These are also used to manage symptoms of ADHD. The medications used in prescription drug detox to alleviate the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal include antidepressants that can also help with anxiety, anticonvulsants that help prevent seizures, beta blockers to help keep tremors at bay, clonidine to manage potentially high blood pressure, and anti-nausea medication.

Commonly, when someone is coming off of benzodiazepines, a taper protocol is used. Meds for benzodiazepines commonly include the same type of medication, in a decreasing dosage. This occurs in order to slowly wean someone off these medications as the detox can be extremely dangerous.

Medications Used in Polydrug Use Detox

Polydrug use is when multiple drugs are used in conjunction with one another. For example, it’s using cocaine and alcohol simultaneously. In cases like these, there are meds used for drug and alcohol detox to help alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal due to both substances.

Using medications that are proven to be effective in treating symptoms of withdrawal for the substances being used simultaneously can help to ensure that the individual safely and effectively detoxes from the substances and can achieve recovery. This can include anti-anxiety medications or medications for depression that occur with alcohol or stimulant polydrug detox.

Find Quality Recovery at Empowered

Drug and alcohol addiction can come with some pretty severe consequences. Getting clean and sober is the best thing someone who is struggling can do for themselves. It can help to rebuild friendships, family relationships, and life in general.

At Empowered Recovery Center we offer comprehensive and individualized care to those who come to us for help. We have on-staff professionals who can help guide someone through the beginning process of finding recovery.

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