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Do I go to detox or rehab?

Detoxification is defined by most people as simply just withdrawing from drugs. In a lot of cases, a withdrawal that is medically supervised isn’t necessary and can just be done at home. This is especially true with most stimulants, painkillers and even heroin, although it is often preferred with the latter two to do a medically supervised drug detox to ease the pain of the withdrawal symptoms.

When large quantities of alcohol or drugs are consumed, it can be very a difficult process to withdraw. Medical detoxification, with the use of other medicines and reduction of the consumption the drugs or alcohol over a period of time, can help someone to systematically withdraw. This helps to ease the process of detoxing and eliminate the risk of seizure and other acute withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the drugs that people most often want or need a medically-supervised detox for include large amounts of alcohol, barbiturates (Phenobarbital), benzodiazapines (Xanax, Valium) and opiates (prescription painkillers, heroin, methadone).

There’s a common misconception though, which is that many drug and alcohol users will think their problem is solved once they’ve tackled the detoxification step. This step does handle the physical dependence, but in actual fact, they are much better off statistically to go into a longer-term residential drug rehab program after detoxification to handle the mental aspects of their addiction and prevent relapse. Detox is only a part of the big picture.

Fairly recently there have also been other classes of prescribed drugs that require medical detox to step down from. They include antidepressants (Paxil, Prozac, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, etc.), antipsychotics (Zyprexa, Risperdol, Seroquel), as well as other mind-altering prescriptions.

Through education and information discovered each year on the side effects of these drugs, a lot more people are being proactive and making the decision not to take them and are seeking alternative treatments. Withdrawal symptoms from these types of drugs can be very severe and people coming down from them oftentimes experience sudden psychotic episodes, so stepping down little by little in a medically-supervised atmosphere is a recommended approach rather than weaning down at home.

Do you know of anyone, or have you heard stories of someone trying to withdraw from some of these drugs on their own? Did they succeed and beat it?

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