The first step of any effective addiction treatment program involves detoxification. The purpose of medical detox is to enable an individual to safely withdraw from a substance while minimizing discomfort. As the person rids their body of the substance, the chemical dependency is broken. Difficult symptoms may occur when an addicted person stops using drugs or alcohol, but the supervision and care provided by a medical detox program can ensure the safety of each patient.
Medical detox can be effective for a variety of addictions. Research indicates that over 41 percent of admissions to detox centers are for the treatment of alcohol abuse. Opiate drugs, including heroin and prescription painkillers, accounted for the most drug-related admissions, and marijuana was also responsible for a large number of cases.
The physical dependency that characterizes addiction is a result of chemical changes in the brain. These changes make it difficult and even dangerous for an individual to attempt to withdraw from a substance without help. Tapering off the substance of abuse can lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms, and some medications can reduce cravings and act as a temporary substitute for the original drug of addiction. As the patient becomes more ready to live a completely drug-free life, the substitute drug can be reduced and finally stopped. Medical professionals closely monitor each patient at a detox center and provide nutrition, hydration and medical treatment if necessary.
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