Addiction 101: Detoxification

Our island families struggle with addiction. Whether the nationally recognized opioid epidemic, alcohol, marijuana, benzodiazepines, methamphetamine, cocaine or a combination of these and other substances, it is right here in our backyard.

A professional substance use evaluation is an essential first step and medically managed drug withdrawal (detoxification) can be a critical second step to the treatment and recovery process
of addiction.

It can be dangerous to suddenly stop sedative drugs like alcohol and tranquilizers. With these substances, inpatient medically managed withdrawal can avert fatal consequences. When hospitalization is unavailable, limited outpatient detoxification can be accomplished as long as a capable caregiver is able to monitor and administer medications prescribed by a physician.

Medically managed substance withdrawal (detoxification) can be a critical second step to propel the treatment and recovery process following the first step of a professional substance use evaluation.

For opioid dependence –which is a part of our national opioid epidemic—
detoxification can usually be completed on an outpatient basis with buprenorphine and naloxone, a medication manufactured in pill or sublingual film.

Another medication, Vivitrol (Naltrexone), is a long acting time release injection that is administered monthly to reduce craving from both alcohol and to block the effects of opiates.

For methamphetamine dependence, there are no current detoxification protocols, but antidepressant medications can be used to help address the symptoms of the withdrawal process.

In all these detoxification/withdrawal management protocols, research indicates counseling as a necessary tool for the recovery process.