Modern drug and alcohol detox is quite a bit different from what it used to be just a few decades ago. Perhaps the biggest change we have seen is the use of certain medications to help make the detox process easier. Medications can be used to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptom and prevent serious injuries or death.

The medications used in any given scenario are determined by the type of addiction being broken and how long that addiction has existed. For example, an alcoholic might be prescribed a benzodiazepine while someone addicted to heroin would receive an opiate substitute. Only trained medical professionals can determine what types of medications would be most effective in any given situation.

We’ll talk about the different types of medications used for detox in just a minute. First, we want to ask why you are visiting our website. Addiction Helper can assist you in getting on the road to recovery if you believe you might be addicted to drugs or alcohol. We work with the best clinics in and around the UK to arrange for addiction detox and rehab.

If you think you might have an addiction problem, there is no need to continue living the way you are. With just a phone call or e-mail, you could have the professional staff at Addiction Helper working on your behalf. If you are visiting our website because you are concerned about someone you love, we can help you too.

Types of Medications

There are many different types of medications covering most types of addictions. Because it would be impossible for us to list them all here, we will focus on some of the more common types of addictions and the drugs used to aid withdrawal.

Please keep in mind that using medication for detox is a strategy designed to reduce health risks and make withdrawal symptoms more bearable. The medications are not supposed to be used as permanent replacement for the alcohol or drugs being abused. If an addict never fully completes detox, he or she will never fully break their addiction.


Dependence on alcohol is otherwise known as alcoholism. There are two classes of drugs used with alcohol dependence, one for withdrawal, and the other for maintenance.

Withdrawal drugs used for alcohol detox are designated as sedatives and/or benzodiazepines. These drugs reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms to reduce the shock of withdrawal. Examples of these drugs include chlordiazepoxide, carbamazepine, and clomethiazole. When hallucinations are a problem, haloperidol or olanzapine may be prescribed.

The second class of drugs used for alcoholism are prescribed for maintenance purposes. There are four drugs in this class, used to reduce alcohol craving and make future drinking uncomfortable. The most commonly used is acamprosate. It reduces alcohol cravings. The other three are naltrexone, disulfiram, and baclofen. Note that all four medications will be rendered useless if the alcoholic continues to drink while taking them.

Addiction to Opiates

Opiates are very strong drugs derived from the opium poppy plant. Morphine and heroin are two primary examples. Addicts recovering from opiate addiction are given a class of drugs known as opioids. These drugs mimic the effects of opiates while allowing the addict to withdraw.

The four most common medications for opiate withdrawal are methadone, buprenorphine, lofexidine, and naltrexone. Among these four, methadone is the most popular for morphine and heroin withdrawal. Methadone is readily available and fairly inexpensive to produce. However, there is rising concern that methadone is being overused.

Strained budgets and personnel shortages are making it more difficult for NHS clinics to provide proper detox and rehab programmes. Recently there has been plenty of criticism directed at the NHS for dealing with the shortages by putting heroin addicts on permanent methadone therapy. This does not break the addiction; it simply substitutes one drug for another.

Addiction to Stimulants

Cocaine and amphetamines top the list of stimulants people easily become addicted to. The medications prescribed during stimulant withdrawal are classified as benzodiazepines. These medications include things like diazepam and dexamfetamine, and they allow for a more gradual withdrawal rather than a quick and shocking crash.

Sometimes, people addicted to stimulants also have an underlying depression condition. In such cases, the doctor might prescribe an antidepressant like fluoxetine or lofepramine.

Dual Diagnosis Treatments

The use of medications in a detox scenario becomes even more important for patients who have been diagnosed as having a dual diagnosis condition. A dual diagnosis exists when a patient is suffering from both an addiction and an underlying mental or anxiety disorder. A good example would be someone who is addicted to heroin while also suffering from panic attack disorder.

In such a case, the medications used for detox must accomplish their purposes without interfering with the treatment prescribed for the panic attack disorder. This creates a delicate situation requiring medical personnel with specialised experience. A dual diagnosis can represent one of the most difficult detox scenarios a clinic or medical team has to deal with.

Time to Get Help

There has never been a time when there has been more help available for detox than there is today. All across the UK there are private clinics, drug and alcohol charities, counselling services, support groups, and NHS programmes available to anyone addicted to drugs or alcohol. What’s more, the use of medications in detox makes withdrawal the safest and least unpleasant it has ever been.

Now is the time for you to get help if you are dealing with an alcohol or drug addiction. Addiction Helper promises to do our best to make sure you get the right treatment for your circumstances. Whether that includes medicated, non-medicated, inpatient or outpatient detox, we have the connections to find you the best programme possible.

Please understand that we cannot help you if you do not want to be helped. Now that we have provided you with the information, what you do with it is completely up to you. If you want help, our addiction recovery counsellors are standing by to speak with you.