What Drugs Are Given During Medical Detox?

Every physician offering therapy to a person suffering from addiction should be aware of withdrawal symptoms. Statistics from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention indicate that in the United States of America, about 9.2% of the population above age 12 abuse drugs. The National Institute on Drugs Abuse reports that as of 2011, only 2.3 million individuals seek treatment for substance abuse from a population of 21.6 million. Here is an overview of the drugs that can be used to manage addiction and detoxification.


The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism shows that about 7% of adult Americans experience alcohol use disorder as of 2012. Withdrawal symptoms that most alcoholics suffer from include nausea, convulsions, illusions, and insomnia. Benzodiazepines like Valium are advocated in preventing such withdrawal symptoms by targeting the focal sensory system. This family of medications has sedative functions and is sometimes used to treat patients with an addiction to drugs such as opiates.

This particular class of medication can interfere with and hinder one’s ability to manage withdrawal symptoms such as intense craving, agitation, irritability, and other strong negative emotions. However, benzodiazepines should be used in moderation to prevent the potential for misuse.


Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been used to manage symptoms in some individuals battling addiction. SSRIs could be used in managing the symptoms of depression and the addiction and withdrawal symptoms associated with opiates. Although tricyclic antidepressants have also been used, they are not currently recommended by physicians.

Dopamine Receptor Antagonists

Dopamine antagonists within this class can help block dopamine receptors that release less dopamine. Therefore, users experience fewer positive effects from their drug use. D3 receptor antagonists are known to alleviate or prevent withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids like codeine, heroin, and cocaine.

Narcotic Agonist

Narcotic agonists interact with narcotic receptors in the brain to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms associated with opiates like heroin and codeine. These agonists include methadone, which is administered in many health clinics to detoxify heroin. It helps ease desires and withdrawal symptoms.

Non-Narcotic Agonist

Non-narcotic agonists such as clonidine and propranolol effectively combat narcotic withdrawal symptoms. Clonidine falls into the class of alpha-adrenergic agonist that targets alpha receptors in the central nervous system. The medication decreases the release of adrenaline in the body, thereby decreasing anxiety and other withdrawal symptoms. Propranolol, on the other hand, a beta-blocker adrenergic, is considered in the management of withdrawal symptoms in alcohol, opioid, and alcohol abuse.

Narcotic Antagonists

Narcotic antagonists are drugs that occupy receptor sites in the central nervous system, where opiate agonists typically bind. These antagonists act as opioid antagonists producing negative stimuli to the mu receptors. It has been clinically proven by double-blind laboratory studies to prevent the development of narcotic physical dependence in several cases.


Naltrexone blocks heroin and other opiate painkillers from attaching to receptors in the brain. By blocking those receptors, naltrexone keeps addicts from getting high when they consume an opiate. The drug is used in combination with counseling by physicians who treat addiction. It has been clinically proven to prevent or alleviate withdrawal symptoms when taken during detoxification.


Naloxone is another drug used to prevent narcotic withdrawal symptoms and treat narcotic overdoses. When used in the emergency room, it reverses respiratory depression caused by overdosing on narcotics, including heroin, morphine, and methadone.

It can be administered by injection or as a nasal spray. Naloxone blocks receptors so they cannot be activated by endogenous or exogenous opioids, preventing the harmful effects of opiates and allowing breathing to resume. In addition to its medical use.


Flumazenil is a well-known Gamma–Amino–Butyric-Acid-A (GABA-A) receptor antagonist that can be administered intranasally, otic insertion, and as an injection. Physicians use it therapeutically to counter the effects of benzodiazepines, especially during an overdose.

It achieves this through competitive inhibition, displacing bound benzodiazepines from their receptors. Additionally, Flumazenil is known to relieve benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms, stabilize GABA receptors, and reset them.


Buprenorphine is a type of partial opioid agonist that the Food and Drug Administration has approved to manage sedative reliance. It is administered during the initial stages of treating narcotic habits and detoxification. The administration of naloxone and buprenorphine helps detox and speed up dependence recovery from withdrawal symptoms. However, buprenorphine is administered under a specialist watch.

The above medication comprises some of the most recommended treatment plans for patients battling addiction. Patients should use these drugs with caution to prevent addiction and side effects. Ready to get started? Call us today at 844-639-8371.

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