Potential Dangers of Prescription Drug Detox

Potential Dangers of Prescription Drug Detox


There are basically two types of prescription drug detox to be concerned with: opiates and benzodiazepines.  Let’s take a look at these 2 types of detox and the issues that are associated with them.

First is opiate detox.  Opiates are painkillers such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, Methadone, Morphine, and so on.  They are used to treat pain conditions and are also abused for recreational purposes.  Street versions of opiates are usually found in the form of heroin, though there is a secondary market for prescription drugs like Vicodin and Oxycontin as well.

People who are going through opiate withdrawal are usually pretty uncomfortable.  In fact, it is probably the least comfortable drug you can withdrawal from, even though it is not as dangerous as some other withdrawals.  Because of this, drug rehabs will generally give the addict some medication to try and help them through these uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.  In some cases, medication such as Suboxone or Subutex may be used to treat the opiate withdrawal.  These medicines contain a partial synthetic opiate called buprenorphine that can help alleviate the opiate withdrawal.  If necessary, the addict can then be tapered off of the buprenorphine while they are in treatment.  The process usually takes around 5 days or so, although it can stretch out longer in terms of the drug treatment.

Creative Commons License photo credit: TheDarkThing

The other form of drug detox that is popular regarding prescriptions is with the drugs like Valium, Xanax, Ativan, Klonipin, Librium, and so on.  These are drugs that doctors will typically prescribe for anxiety.  They are addictive and the body can become extremely dependent on them.  Because they have a calming effect on the nervous system, taking these pills away from the addict suddenly will cause their nervous system to be way to wired and jumpy.  This can lead to serious conditions including seizures and even death.

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So although this particular detox may not feel as bad as opiate withdrawal, it is actually a lot more dangerous from a medical standpoint. Most drug detox centers will treat this type of withdrawal with some form of medication, which is then slowly tapered down so as to prevent seizures.  Most people do not realize how vulnerable they are to having a seizure.  They may exclaim “I’ve never had a seizure before in my life!” and think they are immune to the possibility.  This is not the case during benzo withdrawal.  Anyone can have a seizure due to the nature of the withdrawal symptoms and how it reacts with the nervous system.

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