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Medically Monitored Detox FAQs

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Below is a compilation of the most frequently asked questions about medically monitored detox. All of the questions below have been answered by our Senior Director of Medical Services, Kacie Sasser, FNP-C, MSN, CARN.

What is medical detox?

Medically monitored detox, or medical detox for short, is a process that uses long-acting, cross-reactive medications to help decrease or sometimes do away with life-threatening effects or the stressing side effects that you would get from withdrawal.

How does medical detox work?

Our board-certified, licensed medical doctors, psychiatrists, addiction physicians, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners all work together to replace the patient’s drug of abuse with long-acting medication and then quickly taper the patient off of it, under medical supervision. By replacing the drug of abuse with a safer, long-acting medication, the withdrawal symptoms are not as harsh, if at all, compared to trying to quit cold turkey.

How long does medical detox take?

The initial process of medical detox at Lakeview Health takes about four to seven days. Although the medical detox process ends at seven days, some patients may experience prolonged withdrawal symptoms for several weeks. Fortunately, these symptoms decrease dramatically over time.

How long does it take to detox from alcohol?

At Lakeview Health, a medical detox from alcohol takes generally about six days, which is the standard detox length.

How long does it take to detox from weed, THC, or marijuana?

There is no detox process at Lakeview Health for marijuana, THC, or marijuana.

In terms of how long THC can stay in your system, THC can be detected in the body for up to two weeks after consumption depending on body type. For chronic abuse, THC can be in your system for up to four weeks. Blood and hair follicle tests can detect the compounds found in marijuana for a longer period of time than a urine test can. Most urine tests only detect marijuana in urine for up to seven days.

How long does it take to detox from cocaine?

In terms of how long cocaine stays in your system, cocaine has a relatively short half-life and it takes about an hour for half of the cocaine consumed to leave the body. However, long-term use of cocaine will cause accumulation in the body tissues.

How long does it take to detox from opiates, opioids or heroin?

At Lakeview Health, a medical detox from opiates, opioids, or heroin takes generally about six days, which is the standard detox length.

What medications are used for detox?

Depending on the substance of abuse, Lakeview Health uses various medications to assist the medically monitored detox process. With the process of medical detox, the goal is to replace an addictive substance with a substance that’s going to attach to that same receptor in the patient’s brain.

  • For alcohol detox, we usually administer Librium or Serax, which are benzodiazepines.
  • For opiates or opioids, we usually administer phenobarbital along with buprenorphine, if indicated, which can come in the form of Suboxone or Subutex.
  • For benzodiazepine detox or sedative detox, we usually administer phenobarbital.

Aside from these medications, we also use symptom management medications to address all the withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, creepy-crawly skin, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, etc. We use a standing ordering medication list to address these symptoms to help the patient be more comfortable during the medical detox process.

Can you detox while on medication?

Under Lakeview Health’s supervised medical detox, we strongly advise patients to refrain from using any mood-altering drugs, with the exclusion of any prescribed psychotropic medication.

We will also continue administering chronic care medication, such as medication for hypertension or diabetes.

Does exercise help detox drugs?

Despite popular belief, exercise is actually counterproductive to the medical detox process from drugs and alcohol. Patients at Lakeview Health in the medical detox phase of treatment aren’t allowed to go to the gym until the detox phase is completed.

As far as the full comprehensive treatment of alcohol and drugs, once the medical detox phase is over, exercise is highly beneficial in overcoming addiction. We just advise against physical activity during the initial medical detox phase.

Does cranberry help detox?

No. Drinking cranberry juice will not help a medical detox from drugs or alcohol. There is a lot of misinformation pertaining to the benefits of cranberry juice as a way to pass a drug test, but it will not help your body properly detox from addictive substances.

Does niacin help detox?

Niacin does not help detox from drugs or alcohol. When it comes to a trustworthy medical detox from addictive drugs and alcohol, there is no medical research supporting that niacin helps with the detox from addictive substances.

Can you detox from alcohol on your own?

Although it is possible, it is not recommended to detox from alcohol or other addictive substances on your own. For people abusing alcohol and sedatives, the withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. Regardless of the substance of use, it is advised that you seek medically monitored detox at an accredited facility.

Do detox drinks work for substance abuse disorder?

Detox drinks provide no benefits for substance use disorder. If you are suffering from any substance use disorder, do not try to treat it yourself with the various detox drinks, detox teas, pills, or any at home detox kits. A supervised, medically monitored detox is your only solution for true recovery.

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