Recovery begins with the detox and withdrawal process, during which the residual toxins and chemicals associated with the substance of abuse are purged from the body. Because of the neurological nature of addiction, the detox phase of recovery can be unpleasant. The brain is accustomed to receiving daily dosing of the substance, which has caused alterations in brain structures and neurotransmitters over time. During detox and withdrawal, the brain attempts to stabilize after the substance is withheld, and this process results in withdrawal symptoms.
A medically monitored detox program provides the detox team with the medical expertise to carefully observe and record the withdrawal symptoms throughout the stages of detox, and then respond with medical interventions. These medications offer a certain degree of relief from the withdrawal symptoms. There are medications that ease symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, headache, fever, and reduce seizure risk.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a type of medical intervention that can help individuals in early recovery sustain sobriety. These drugs, such as naltrexone and buprenorphine, reduce cravings for the substance over time, helping to prevent relapse.