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The drug problem across Canada affects every corner of the country and in every province and territory, and for many addicts struggling with opiate addiction or an addiction to pain medication or such drugs like Fentanyl, getting a bed within a medical detox is essential. Because the vast majority of Canada’s population resides within the larger cities of each province, this is where addicts will find the bulk of the beds available; both private and government-funded, to help a person safely detox from dangerous drugs. Medical detox is a process where an addict is slowly weaned off of the drugs they are taking, or they are prescribed other drugs to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox is not a drug maintenance program but is simply a medically supervised procedure for addicts addicted to or abusing drugs that cannot be stopped abruptly without life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. The majority of medical detox services will be within a hospital setting, but some privately operated inpatient drug rehab centers in Canada will have the necessary medical staff and resources to help an addict with medical detox.

When coming to the realization that you or a family member needs to get off the drugs which you are addicted to, it is important to figure out which drug treatment program is best for you.  One of the most important points to figure out during an assessment is whether you can benefit from the popular and healthy drug withdrawal program or if you are in need of medical detox, which is not recommended save for the fact that some people need to literally have their vitals monitored as they could actually end up losing their lives if they are at such a point that their bodies would shut down because of their excessive drug use.

ATC counselor

Withdrawing drug-free is a highly successful and encouraged route to take but there are times when the detoxification process does need to be monitored and aided by medical professionals.  How does one determine which route is best for him or her?  The answer lies within a full assessment that should be done by the intake counselor where you have decided to go. It could be a residential rehab, a medical detox, etc.  If you are not given an intake assessment, you are advised that it is not healthy to go into a program without one so this would be a good time to get a second opinion.  We firmly believe that drug withdrawal without medication is the best route but more importantly, we have the physical health of the patient as our priority and would do a full intake with you before having you stay at the center.  We are first for the best interest of the patient, which is why we have a high success rate.  We will recommend you for a medical detox if our professional intake counselors feel it is in your best interests.  That alone should tell you that we put you first. Also, remember that medical detox is only the first phase for recovery. Drug rehabilitation will stabilize the individual on his road to sobriety.


The purpose of any medical detox is to safely assist the patient away from the substance. We also believe that patients should be fully detoxified and ready to start afresh and a healthy new path. We do not encourage nor suggest any type of medicinal drug to rid the body of these toxins. We are aware that within six to fourteen days of detoxification, it is not possible to fully eliminate a toxic substance from your system. In fact, many drugs will hibernate and store themselves in the body’s fat tissues. The Sauna program was designed to help the body to sweat out any stored toxins that could be lingering in the fatty tissues. This program has proven to be of great success. Will you complete your detox within a medical detox? We cannot guarantee this without the dedication of the patient. However, it is rare that one does not continue the completion of his detox at a Medical Detox Center. We are certain that patients who follow the program and then obtain the appropriate aftercare, they are capable to safely stay away from the toxic substance they were consuming. Many medical detox facilities do not handle the mental or physiological reason that brought them to consuming the toxic substance in the first place. It is really important to take care of the different aspects while going through detox. This can involve finding a holistic doctor or other healthcare provider to provide them with the best care out there.


Some medical detox has a fixed and unchanging detox protocol for each type of drug and for alcohol. Sometimes the duration period is too short and the patient is very uncomfortable that they leave and resume their toxic addiction to handle the discomfort. Sometimes it is unnecessarily long but it is almost always unchanging. The detox that we refer to patients is not subjected to a “standard” protocol. Instead, they are treated as they are-unique individuals whom we assist comfortably and safely in completing their detox based on a number of factors. The detox schedule for the patients changes frequently in response to how the patient is doing with the consideration of certain factors.
The considered factors are age, type of drug or alcohol from which they want to detox, amount of the drug or alcohol being consumed, length of time the person has been taking the drug or drinking alcohol, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, state of hydration, state of health and DNA and metabolism.



This first factor is age. A 75-year-old person may be healthier than an 18-year-old, but as a general rule, as we age our bodies tend to function less efficiently. This generally means that a medical detox program will take longer for an older person than for a younger one. However, because of all the other factors, we will be discussing in this newsletter, sometimes an older person will detox more rapidly than a younger person on the same substance.


The second factor is what drug or alcohol you need to detox from. Generally, one of the most difficult drugs to detox from is opium which is found in the most common drug taken which is Methadone. Depending on the dose and drug type, some detox’s may take longer than others. Methadone detox normally takes from 10 to 14 days. We have had a few people finish sooner than 10 days, and some have taken longer than 14 days.

The most difficult is benzodiazepine also known as Xanax. Some people will complete their detox from Xanax in six to seven days, but the average time is normally seven to ten days. It can take this long because of the way that Xanax affects some of our patients. Unless the patient addresses the actual cause of why they were taking Xanax we can pinpoint a treatment. When the patient leaves our facility we aim to make certain that they are cleared of these very toxic chemicals and that there is no potential possibility of a relapse. It is generally easier for a person who is addicted to wine to medically detox than it is for a person who is drinking an equivalent amount of bourbon or gin, but again it depends on all the factors listed.


For example, higher doses of methadone generally require the longest detoxification time, but someone taking only 20 milligrams of methadone daily will almost certainly complete their detox more rapidly than someone taking 120 milligrams of OxyContin. Like we pointed out, it depends on the amount or severity of the toxins consumed.


Generally, the longer a person has been consuming the drug or alcohol the longer it will take for the person to withdraw from. Over time, the body becomes more dependent on the substance which creates the effects the person is seeking. It is for this reason that it sometimes takes longer for the body’s natural production of the chemicals to reach normal levels again.


Many people who need medical detox are deficient in vitamins and minerals. This means that their bodies will not work or respond as efficiently. Often we see such rapid improvement after patients have received vitamin IVs and supplements. The more deficient the patient is when they arrive, the longer it will take for their bodies to begin to function more efficiently.


While most people are dehydrated to some extent. Many of our patients who are abusing alcohol or drugs normally have an even greater degree of dehydration. Hydration is one of the most important factors for anyone going through medical detox. If a person is dehydrated, the body’s cells work less efficiently and since they make up the vital organs and the organs operate less effectively. Once the body accepts hydration like a sponge absorbs water, the detox will respond and we will see results and in most cases, the IV’s and our use of electrolytes have proven to speed the process.


The medical detox that we refer people to can help the person who is dehydrated or who has vitamin and mineral deficiencies, but if someone has blood pressure problems, diabetes, or heart problems it gives us a greater challenge. This will affect the length of time a person required to complete a medical detox program. The level of stress that the patient may feel can slightly alter the goal of the detox program. When dealing with these health problems, we take great care in aiding the person to recovery, and therefore it will result in a longer detox period.


Perhaps the main reasons explaining the variations in the time needed to detox comfortably and safely from substances are the individual’s DNA and metabolism. All of us have differences in our DNA that explain the differences in how we look and how we react to drugs and alcohol. All of us may metabolize drugs and alcohol through the same pathways, but this does not mean we metabolize these substances in the same way. Remember, our DNA is unique to us and the action of the enzymes that metabolize these substances is often different. For some, the enzymes will work “normally”, for others the enzymes will work slow or fast, and some may not even have the enzymes at all.

For example, one person taking 60 milligrams of an opioid-like OxyContin may metabolize and use all 60 milligrams of the opioid, while someone taking 100 milligrams may not metabolize the opioid and only receives the effect of 60 milligrams.


A common misconception is that people continue to use alcohol or drugs to get “high”. This may have been the motivating reason when they started using, but most find that the alcohol or drugs no longer produce a “high”-they just keep away the uncomfortable and often unbearable withdrawal symptoms.

Some people ask if a person withdrawing from OxyContin can be withdrawn in less than an average of 6 to 8 days. The answer is yes, the person can detox more rapidly and some of our patients have completed their detox in five days. However, for most, if they try to speed up their detox too much, they will have very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and they may leave before they finish because the pain is too great.

Once started, not finishing a medical detox almost always leads to a resumption of the drug or alcohol use because of the withdrawal symptoms. If patients proceed with their medical detox program in the manner most suitable to them, they will no longer be experiencing the painful withdrawal symptoms from the drug or alcohol. They will be ready to take their next step toward freedom from the substance. This next step could be going into a rehab program, or it could be going to other health care providers if the drug or alcohol use was started to control physical pain.

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