Drug Alcohol Detox Difference: What You Need to Know
All addictions are not created equal, and there’s an important difference between drug and alcohol detox that all addicts should understand. While the end goal is the same—to clear the substance out of the patient’s system in order eliminate physical cravings and to prepare him for treatment—there are a number aspects of the detox processes that are different. Read on to learn about the drug alcohol detox difference.
What’s the Difference Between Drug and Alcohol Detox?
In order to answer this question, one should first understand how the detox process works. Drug or alcohol detox is the process of withdrawing drugs or alcohol from an addict in order to clear the substance out of his system. This is the first step in treatment, and it should always be closely monitored by a doctor or a licensed medical worker. Medical professionals will understand the drug alcohol detox difference, and they will know what to look out for in the different processes. Differences between drug and alcohol detox include the following:
- management of detox symptoms
- length of detoxification, and
- medications used during detox
Management of Detox Symptoms
One difference between drug and alcohol detox relates to the nature and severity of withdrawal symptoms. Many addicts will experience similar withdrawal symptoms when they’re taken away from their substance of choice, whether it’s drugs or alcohol. However, there are certain symptoms that may occur in alcoholics that will not appear in drug addicts, and this is one part of where the drug alcohol detox difference comes from. Severe alcoholics undergoing detox may suffer from the “DTs,” or delirium tremens. These are hallucinations, which can be frightening and may cause an alcoholic to accidentally hurt himself or others. It’s important that doctors know what symptoms to look out for when supervising a patient’s detox.
Length of Detoxification
The timing difference between drug and alcohol detox is usually not extreme. In most cases, for both drug and alcohol detox, the process takes no more than a few days. However, with extreme cases of alcoholism, detox can last up to a few weeks. This length of detox is rarely seen with drug abuse, even in severe cases.
Medications Used During Detox
Another important drug alcohol detox difference is in the medications that may be administered by a doctor to relieve withdrawal symptoms. For example, methadone is commonly administered during detox for narcotics addicts, because it reduces the withdrawal symptoms of narcotics abuse without producing the “high” associated with these drugs. However, methadone would never be used during alcohol detox, because the combination of these two substances can result in dangerous side effects or even death. In addition, certain medications, when mixed with other drugs from which an addict may be detoxing, can also cause serious side effects. This is an extremely important difference between drug and alcohol detox, and that’s why it’s vital that detox is supervised by a licensed medical professional.
Why the Drug Alcohol Detox Difference is So Important
It’s important for addicts to understand the difference between drug and alcohol detox so that they can better communicate their needs to their doctors and treatment supervisors. While it’s ultimately your doctor’s job to ensure that you have a safe and (ideally) comfortable detox, you can help make his job easier by communicating your concerns about symptoms, the length of your detox, and any medications you are taking or may be asked to take.
But regardless of the drug alcohol detox difference, you can always take comfort in knowing that, by the time you are finished with detox, your mind and body will be a clean slate with which you can start your addiction treatment with full force.