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 Nutritional Programs: Nutritional Program for Drug Detoxification  
 

Aspirin and caffeine are two big OTC drug problems. Caffeine will be discussed thoroughly in the next program. Aspirin, a valuable drug, has been in common use for many decades, though its use is now decreasing because of its association with stomach irritation, allergies, Reye's syndrome, its effect on blood clotting, and the availability of acetaminophen and other anti-inflammatory drugs. Still, acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), derived from coal tar, has over 50 million regular users in this country, and the average annual intake of aspirin products is more than100 per person per yearover 20 to 25 billion tablets of this one agent alone used every year. Many aspirin products also contain other analgesics (pain relievers) and caffeine. Aspirin is also an anti-inflammatory agent and can reduce fevers (which is not always good, since fevers can be a natural healer), and it does this better than its counterpart acetaminophen (Tylenol, Datril). Both drugs are now commonly used as people experience more pain and degenerative, inflammatory disease, including cardiovascular disease where aspirin is used in regular low dosages to reduce blood clotting effects. Anti-inflammatory drugs in general are fairly easy to eliminate if we can eliminate the pain for which they are taken.

Stronger pain drugs include the new anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen (Medipren, Motrin), which has many possible side effects. Its use also can be avoided with correction of the problems that cause the symptoms. Even stronger prescription narcotics, such as codeine (found in many formulas; aspirin or acetaminophen with codeine is very commonly used); hydrocodone (Percodan); propoxyphene (Darvon); or even Demerol or morphine may be prescribed. All of these narcotic drugs are much more addictive, and thus more difficult to stop using.

Other Drugs - Street and Recreational
Street or "recreational" narcotics are also a big problem. These include opium, methadone, and especially heroin, and more recently "ice," "crack," "crunch," and "cripple." Over a half million heroin users are addicted to and possessed by this intravenous drug, which mixes euphoria with depression. This drug also reduces the appetite and libido, so food and sex, love and nurturing often lose importance, and users live just for the drugs. Specialized care is needed for narcotics withdrawal, and this section's suggestions may offer support during this process.

Using sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and antidepressants is another way to deal with life's frustrations and challenges. Valium has been a very popular drug, the most popular for a few years, but new drugs keep entering the race, and Ativan, Xanax, Halcion, and others are now also very popular. Barbiturates are less common now; they used to be the main sedatives but now are probably more frequently used on the street. All these drugs that slow us down, mainly by depressing our nervous system, act like alcohol, so review the Alcohol Detoxification program along with this one if these drugs are an interest or problem.

Stimulants, such as the amphetamines and cocaine, are on the opposite end of the spectrum from sedatives. They are very stimulating but also cause dramatic fluctuations in energy. They excite the nervous system and cause euphoria or irritability with resultant loss of appetite, hypersensitivity, and insomnia, usually followed by fatigue and depression. The amphetamines, such as Dexedrine, Benzedrine, methamphetamine, and Desoxyn, are somewhat less of a problem than they were in prior years (probably because there are better ways of getting high or losing weight), yet for anyone with an addiction to "uppers," they have a very dangerous and difficult problem. As with the narcotics, amphetamine withdrawal and detoxification often require professional assistance, although some people manage to do it on their own. The stimulant drugs in general are more deadly than most others, including narcotics, so it is very important to eliminate them if we want to live long and healthy lives.

A general detox program for a pharmaceutical or OTC drug involves first familiarizing yourself with its effects, side effects, addiction potential, and withdrawal symptoms (preferably, we do this before we use it). If we are using a drug, we must be able to acknowledge when we are addicted. We can tell this by some of the following characteristics:


Addiction
We need the drug to function.
We need it in ever higher doses.
We need it more frequently.
If we miss a dose, we begin to feel sick.
We have a history of abuse or addiction.

Some drugs are dangerous to stop. Going "cold turkey" from sedatives, stimulants, and narcotics can have serious consequences, including seizures. Tranquilizers may be needed to get us through the withdrawal phase. Overall, a plan should be made with the help of a professionnal, such as consulting a medical doctor of psychologist to help in withdarawal.

If we are slowing down or want to evaluate our drug use, we can record the dosage, time of use, and any reactions we may have and how long after taking the drug they occur. When we do stop, we should get busy to take our mind off the drug. There are now many more doctors and facilities, including hospital detox centers, that can help us deal with drug problems. Other therapies, such as counseling, biofeedback, behavior modification, and acupuncture, may help us in our plan to clean up our life and lessen our drug uses.

A few commonly used drugs will be discussed now cocaine, marijuana, and the most common addiction, sugar. The other important drug habits, namely caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine abuse and addictions will be discussed thoroughly in subsequent programs.

Cocaine
Cocaine came into popular use in the United States with the introduction of Coca-Cola, when that drink had a lot of zip and addictive qualities. Since coca leaf extract was removed from Coca-Cola in 1903, the high sugar and caffeine content has been able to maintain the stimulating and addicting qualities, along with its depleting nature.

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that produces an excited state shortly after it is inhaled ("snorted," "tooted") and a mild euphoria that lasts for 10­20 minutes, associated with an all-powerful "I can take on the world" kind of deluded feeling. It also increases the heart rate and blood pressure and reduces the appetite and financial reserve.

Cocaine is extremely addicting, both psychologically and physically (over time of course, not with one try; however, its withdrawal can be seen after any usage) and is very costly, often causing financial ruin to the addicted and his or her family. It can cause nasal, sinus, and mucous membrane damage when used intranasally, as it commonly. It causes a cycly of excitability and depression that is often balanced with sedatives and then more stimulants. Speedballs (cocaine and heroin) and free basing (smoking it) are both extremely dangerous.

Cocaine withdrawal can be very difficult, particularly psychologically (the opiates, for example, seem to be more physically addicting).


Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

craving runny nose depression
anxietynasal irritationapathy
sleepinessfatiguedelirium
sleeplessnessmuscle achesseizures
irritabilityweight gain


With a good program, these symptoms can be minimized. An alkaline diet with lots of liquids, fruits, and vegetables and small amounts of whole grains and protein is helpful. Multivitamin/minerals with additional vitamin C and some antioxidants can smooth the withdrawal and support the healing transition.

For cocaine detoxification, as with healing from any drug, first we must acknowledge that we have a problem and decide to do something about it. We should get rid of all the drugs and paraphernalia and drop friends and associates that are tied to our drug problem. We can seek (and accept) the support of our spouse, friends, or relatives if we are comfortable with that. For actual withdrawal, we should prepare for symptoms with the aforementioned nutrients and the support of a professional. Tranquilizer drugs may be needed for a few days or longer, but these must be handled sensitively, as one addiction can easily replace another. Psychological counseling and/or a support group can help prevent any new addictions. Often it is helpful to become "addicted" to health for a while until we can work with our addictive personality, which can withdrawal, we should stay busy and exercise as much as possible, and stay away from parties where the problem drug may be used. Those who have a problem with cocaine or are tempted to use it again should talk to someone or check into a cocaine detox center. They can also call 800-COCAINE, a national line to help with this problem.


Dare I?
Dare I bend my brain on that Night Queen Cocaine
notice me...
I'm what you used to be
before you covered the door to your heart
with that lie, but now all you do is count
up how much you can buy
Composted Brains
Night Queen Cocaine
She'll suck you dry,
she'll pass you by
that Night Queen Cocaine.
—Bethany ArgIsle


(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
 
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