Detox is the first step to getting into treatment for drug addiction and alcoholism. Detox is also the safe haven for many addicts who are dope sick. Dope sick is most commonly a term used to describe someone who is coming off of heroin. When an addict stops using heroin they experience both mental and physical withdrawal symptoms. Heroin withdrawal symptoms are known as dope sickness. The symptoms of being dope sick include chills, irritability, anxiety, muscle pain, depression, nausea, and vomiting and muscle pain. Heroin withdrawal symptoms are not life threatening but they are really uncomfortable. In fact, most heroin addicts will just continue using the drug to avoid being dope sick at all costs. That is, until they detox.
There are many different dope sick detoxes out there. If an addict is dope sick they can pick from a number of different detox methods to become well again. The first of the dope sick detox programs is a rapid detox.
- Rapid dope sick detox involves the use of drugs to push heroin out of the body. The addict is put under anesthesia in a medically controlled setting and is unconscious for the entire procedure. As a result the heroin addict doesn’t actually experience being dope sick. With a rapid detox like this addicts are usually under the general anesthesia for around two hours and are in the hospital for up to two days until they are physically stable.
- Another dope sick detox is known as a drug assisted detox. A drug assisted detox uses drugs such as methadone or buprenorphine and clonidine to provide relief from being dope sick but none of the high. Buprenorphine, clonidine, and methadone are all very similar in structure to heroin. With the drug assisted detox the addict takes regular doses of the drug over a period of time slowly lowering the dose. This allows the addict to withdrawal from heroin without feeling dope sick. Unfortunately the drugs used to assist with being dope sick are addictive too so there may be some discomfort felt by the addict.
- Medical dope sick detox is like rapid detox but the addict is awake. In a medical detox the addict quits cold turkey but the medical team helps them with the feelings of being dope sick by making them as comfortable as possible. This may mean the medical team gives them drugs in order to give the addict some relief from the symptoms of being dope sick. Medical detox lasts the same length as the symptoms of being dope sick.
- Home dope sick detox means quitting cold turkey, with no medical help and this means the addict will definitely be dope sick. The addict basically “rides out” the withdrawal. While this method can be successful, without supervision the addict may use heroin again in order to stop the symptoms associated with being dope sick. Quitting cold turkey and going through being dope sick is not highly recommended by anyone including former heroin addicts.