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Getting to the Root Cause of Addiction vs. Just Detoxing

Drug detox can pave the way towards the start of a potentially promising drug addiction treatment, but it cannot cure addiction on its own. When done appropriately with the guidance of a medical professional, it can be instrumental in helping anyone struggling with substance abuse take the first step to break free from their dependence. 

But drug detox is not a quick fix for addiction. In fact, there is no such thing. It’s important to get to the root cause of addiction in order to prevent future relapse. Let’s find out why.

What Is Drug Detox?

The majority of traditional drug addiction treatment plans often start off with a drug detoxification process. It eliminates all traces of addictive substances in the body while managing the consequent withdrawal symptoms, ranging from nausea, insomnia, vomiting, and seizures.

Not everybody reacts the same way to a drug detox program. The withdrawal timeline can last anywhere between a couple of days to several weeks, depending on the following factors:

  • Type of drug(s) used
  • The drug’s half-life
  • Amount of drug(s) used
  • Frequency of use
  • Hydration levels
  • Weight and body mass
  • Physical activity
  • Drug tolerance
  • Metabolic rate
  • Medical conditions that impact drug elimination
  • The presence of other drugs or alcohol in the body
  • Genetic makeup (ethnicity and gender)

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Types of Drug Detox

There are many forms of drug detoxification programs available. Some are offered by addiction treatment facilities as an in-patient out-patient procedure, while there are also drug detox products that any individual can take at home.

Cold Turkey 

The cold turkey method means quitting from using the addictive drug or behavior overnight without any therapeutic intervention to assist you with the potential withdrawal symptoms. Frequently, it’s a personal decision made by someone dealing with substance abuse who wants to turn over a new leaf. Despite being a brave and bold step towards the right direction, in reality, this drug detox approach can do more harm than good. 

Going cold turkey can trigger a cascade of severe withdrawal symptoms that lead to relapses and medical emergencies. For instance, because certain drugs are extremely addictive, stopping the abuse abruptly without giving the brain the chance to process and adapt to the change can cause intense withdrawal cravings that can result in seizures or a life-threatening drug overdose

Drug Tapering 

It’s a drug detox protocol that takes a “slowly but surely approach,” where patients are guided to reduce the doses they are accustomed to taking gradually. Little by little, they wean themselves off the addictive substance until they no longer feel controlled by their craving. In drug tapering, the withdrawal symptoms are less severe because it gives the body a chance to adapt to the absence of the drug. This should only be done under the advice and supervision of a medical professional.

Medical Detox 

Medical detox is a comprehensive drug detox program. Patients admitted inside the facility during the entire drug detoxification process where their drug withdrawal symptoms are closely monitored, and they are provided with the appropriate support and medication to make the experience more manageable. 

During drug detox, the patient may receive medications, such as methadone and buprenorphine, to minimize their cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. As a part of a holistic drug addiction treatment, mental health therapies are also made available.

Understanding the Root Causes of Addiction

When discussing any form of addiction, it’s critical to emphasize that it’s a chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsively seeking highly addictive substances or behaviours despite knowing the negative consequences. It is recognized as a brain disorder because it dramatically alters the brain’s function when it comes to stress, reward, and self-control, making it difficult for them to quit on their own even if they want to.

Drug addiction is not a product of a single cause. Often, it’s a culmination of several factors contributing to a person’s susceptibility and vulnerability to developing drug dependency. To truly overcome addiction requires digging deeper into a person’s story to understand the triggers that led to the drug abuse entirely. 

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Dual Diagnosis: Addiction and Mental Illness

Mental illness is one of the primary causes of addiction. 

People with mental health disorders in Canada have two times more risk of addiction than the general population. 20% of Canadians with a mental illness or behavioural problem have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder. The chances are 50% higher for people with schizophrenia

Other common mental health conditions linked to substance abuse are:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder 
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

With dual diagnosis, one or two disorders exist simultaneously, a comprehensive and integrated treatment approach is necessary. Failure to adequately address any one of the comorbid conditions efficiently could mean relapse because they create a “cause and effect” scenario. People use drugs to cope with loneliness and anxiety.

Drug Detox Is Not Enough

The Principles of Effective Treatment by the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests taking on a holistic approach that recognizes and addresses a person’s multiple needs, is the most effective form of addiction treatment. These include any connected medical, psychological, social, vocational, or legal dilemmas. Drug addiction treatments should be tailored according to the individual’s age, gender, ethnicity, and culture.  

Freedom From Addiction is one of Canada’s leading and most innovative alcohol and drug addiction recovery homes. We see the potential of medical drug detox programs, but at the same time, recognize the complexities involved in helping people overcome their addiction by providing adequate health and emotional support therapies.

For more information about our drug addiction treatments, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. A member of our team will get back to you shortly. Contact us today!


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