Effective Strategies Important in Narcotics Detox
Withdrawal from any drug is certainly difficult, both physically and psychologically, but withdrawal from narcotic drugs may bring especially severe symptoms. In most cases, the patient will not be in danger of long-term health consequences or death during withdrawal, but many who have experienced it say they would have done anything to ease the symptoms.
As experts continue to study narcotics addiction and treatment programs, most agree that a sudden and complete removal of the drug is not an effective method to break the addiction. Instead, a gradual approach involving small doses of narcotics that are removed over time may be the best strateg, or the use of replacement therapy such as buprenorphine to ease withdrawal symptoms.
Narcotics, such as Morphine, OxyContin, and Percocet, are typically prescribed for pain and considered highly addictive because they give the user feelings of euphoria. The use of narcotics moves from medical to abusive when the patient’s relationships, home life and work life suffer, along with a compulsion to find and take narcotics – especially in increasing dosage amounts. The U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services reports that prescription narcotics are the second most widely abused drug in the nation, with well over 5 million people admitting to using the drugs for non-medical reasons.
Withdrawal from narcotics can be severe. Hallmark symptoms include anxiousness, aggressive moods or irritability, quickened breathing, increased saliva, nose congestion and body aches. Vomiting or stomach discomfort may also be present; as well as increased perspiration, a sense of disorientation, body tremors and dilated pupils. Physicians may need to observe the patient for additional problems connected with abusing narcotics, such as heart valve infections, skin infections, pneumonia or liver problems. Tests to monitor the severity of physical damage during withdrawal include EKG testing, X-rays of the chest, taking blood counts and blood toxicology work.
In past decades, a commonly used drug administered to help patients with narcotic withdrawal has been methadone hydrochloride, a type of man-made opiate. The drug has been employed because methods for recovery that remove narcotics all together, such as acupuncture, have not been shown effective in breaking the cycle of narcotics addiction. Other treatment plans substitute narcotics for another kind of opioid, such as heroin, and then gradually reduce the opioid dosage.
The non-narcotic drug clonidine hypochloride has also been used. Treatment begins with an experimental dosage to test for adverse reactions, and if none are found, an increase in the dose is administered. In research cases, patients were shown to have greatly reduced symptoms of narcotic withdrawal when prescribed clonidine. Non-narcotic drug treatment also provides the added benefit of preventing patients from attending detoxification on the premise of receiving a steady supply of narcotics. The process may also be quicker than other methods of detoxification.
Narcotic withdrawal can be overwhelming and very painful to the patient, family and friends, especially in the beginning stages – but for most addicts, the outlook is positive if appropriate treatment is pursued. As research continues into the growing problem of narcotics addiction, detoxification programs involving a combination of medical drug treatment with group counseling may be the most effective path to recovery.