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Prescription Drug Addiction: Avoiding The Dangers of Withdrawal
There has never been a need for effective drug detox like there is today, with 18 to 20 million Americans currently abusing prescription drugs, and no one knows how many — it could be millions — suffering from outright prescription drug addiction.
People of all ages, from grade-school pre-teens to over-medicated nursing-home seniors, are trapped by prescription drug addiction — most of them as a result of dependence on valid prescriptions from a doctor.
Most of them know they’re in trouble, feel trapped, and don’t know what to do or where to turn.
If someone you know is in this kind of situation, here is what to tell them:
Drug detox is the first step towards recovery — and it isn’t an option. You can’t achieve rehabilitation from prescription drug addiction while you are still abusing the drugs. Drug detox is an essential step that everyone, without exception, must take before they begin drug rehab.
Drug detox is the process of drug withdrawal, during which your body is allowed to get rid of the chemical effects and changes that the drug has made to your brain, your internal organs and tissues, even the composition of your blood and body fluids.
But as withdrawal from drugs takes place, one’s body, mind and emotions can be put through terribly uncomfortable, sometimes life-threatening changes, as the body tries to regain its normal chemical balance.
How difficult or dangerous drug detox is depends on several factors — the same factors that tell us why a personally tailored medical drug detox program is superior to a one-size-fits-all detox program:
- Each person possesses a unique metabolism, and unique DNA, so the withdrawal effects of drugs are also unique. And of course, the state of someone’s health can be an important factor too.
- All drugs have different expected withdrawal symptoms, but not everyone experiences all the same symptoms, or to the same degree.
- How long you take a drug matters, because duration of exposure can contribute to the degree of dependence and seriousness of withdrawal. But withdrawal from some drugs, like benzos, can be serious even after very brief exposure.
- Dependence on a single drug may not be as complex or dangerous as dependence on several different drugs at once, or on drugs and alcohol . But again, everyone’s metabolism is unique, and the specific drugs also matter.
Rehab is where you learn why you’re an addict, and how not to be an addict ever again — whether it’s prescription drug addiction, cocaine, heroin or any other street drug addiction, or alcohol addiction. Rehab cannot occur successfully if drugs or alcohol are still pulling at body, mind and soul.
Therefore, the more successful a drug detox is, the better chances you have of completing drug rehab successfully.
And no matter what anyone tells you, especially those claims made by rapid-detox practitioners, drug detox is not rehab. No one suffering from more than a simple, short-term dependence is “drug-free”, in every sense of that term, until they’ve completed a full rehabilitation program. And anyone suffering a real, nothing-else-matters-more-than-my-drugs addiction will need drug rehab.
Now the important question becomes: How do I (or my family member or loved one) want this drug detox to happen?
Drug detox can take place in many settings and in many ways. Here are three examples:
- Horribly sick — and embarrassed — for days on end, in a darkened room at home, surrounded by worried, panicky family members
- A painfully agonizing and possibly life-threatening week-long lonely nightmare on a dirty mattress in a fleabag hotel
- A safe, tailored program in a comfortable, medically supervised setting where discomfort is minimized, and medical help is always present.
Well, from the options above, the choice seems obvious. But one way or another, drug detox has to take place somewhere, somehow, to get free of substance dependency, including prescription drug addiction.
The best chance at a successful and permanent drug rehab is a medical drug detox program, carefully designed for a patient’s unique metabolism, state of health, for the exact substance(s) involved, and with on-call doctors and nurses nearby.
Rod MacTaggart is a freelance writer that contributes articles on health.
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