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Specialized Detox for Opiates

What is Detox?

Detox for substances use and dependency refers to the removal of toxins from the body of an individual. Detox services seek to reduce the harms caused by intoxication and substance misuse and treat the immediate symptoms that occur post-use. Managing a life-threatening intoxication (e.g. overdose or alcohol poisoning) is not classified as detox and is generally treated in hospital environments like the emergency room.

Detoxification is designed to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms for those wanting to begin drug and alcohol treatment. For some, it represents their first point of contact with treatment.

Detox is not drug and alcohol treatment. Addiction treatment involves services designed to promote recovery for individuals struggling with substances. A simple way to distinguish between detox and treatment is that detox assists with the physical addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, while treatment assists clients with the psychological aspects of addiction. Therefore, when many people are looking for “opiates detox” or “detox from opiates,” this refers to only the first half of the equation – the initial physical withdrawal symptoms.

For more information on alcohol and drug detox, see our Drug Detox Facts page.

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How our Detox Programs Work

Opioid Detox / Detox from Opiates Using SuboxoneWe understand your arrival at our alcohol and drug detox can be an anxious time. However, the location of the detox program in Powell River, BC, is not far from Victoria or Vancouver – thus minimizing travel time, and maximizing tranquility given the serene location. You have more questions than answers and you really don’t know what to expect. Our nursing staff appreciates your apprehension and is committed to making you feel comfortable the moment you arrive.

At Sunshine Coast Health Centre, we offer a full medical unit to support clients with mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. If you have been consuming excessive amounts of drugs or alcohol, you have the right to expect that your time in detox will be monitored by capable medical professionals. The first people you meet when you arrive will be the nursing team who will immediately begin attending to your physical and mental health. The nursing team and detox case managers will assess your current physical health so that they can create your detox care plan and best reduce the discomfort you may experience during withdrawals.

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What is Specialized Detox?

Sunshine Coast Health Centre is now able to offer specialized detox services for persons with long-term opiate/opioid dependency (e.g. heroin, opium, Fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone).  In other words, we’re an established opiate detox program in British Columbia and patients come to us now only from Vancouver or Victoria, but from nearby provinces like Alberta, etc., seeking “opiate detox” services.

Opiate detox is difficult for many individuals. Many people are unwilling or unable to deal with flu-like symptoms such as diarrhea, goose bumps, abdominal pain, sweating, nausea and vomiting (many of our clients describe it as experiencing the worst hangover you can possibly imagine).

Our 7-day specialized detox program* eases the withdrawal process and also reduce cravings and other symptoms while a client is in our  and/or after they return home. These services include:

  • Opiate/Opioid Detox onto Suboxone
  • Methadone Detox on Suboxone
  • Suboxone Taper/Detox for long-term users (minimum 1 year)

Our Specialized Detox Program uses Suboxone Treatment for opioid addiction. Suboxone Treatment has been shown to complement education, counselling, and other important components of addiction treatment and recovery. Suboxone allows our clients to regain a normal state of mind – free of withdrawal and cravings.

*Our specialized detox program is a minimum of 7 days, but clients may request a longer stay (e.g. 14 days).

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Who our Specialized Detox Program is for

Opioid Detox / Detox from Opiates Using SuboxoneWe use Suboxone Treatment for all clients needing detox from opiates or who regularly use them. Suboxone provides our clients safety by reducing cravings and return to use (e.g. relapse), which increases their risk of overdose and death. Our specialized detox program and Suboxone Treatment is ideal for individuals who have been using opiates and/or opioids long-term and have struggled to stop using.

We also offer specialized detox services to people needing detox from opiates or Methadone, but who cannot attend our full drug rehab programs or are attending an outpatient facility in their home community where they need to be sober first. Our 7-day specialized detox program supports clients as they go through withdrawal and begin Suboxone. Along with many other services we provide as part of the 7-day specialized detox program, we arrange for their Suboxone Treatment to continue with a clinic or physician in their home community.

For more information on how we use Suboxone, see our Suboxone Treatment page.

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Why It Helps

Our clients on Suboxone Treatment appreciate the stability it provides them in recovery. Since Suboxone reduces cravings, it takes away the focus on wanting and finding opiates and allows clients to focus on their recovery entirely. Clients in our Suboxone Treatment Program are better able to deal with the psychological, emotional, and social/family components of their addiction and build a foundation recovery while in our drug rehab program or in other facilities. Suboxone provides our clients with opiate/opioid addictions a higher likelihood of long-term recovery and wellness.

Research is quite clear that detox from opiates/opioids over the course of five to seven days without medication-assisted treatment like Suboxone has a low rate of effectiveness. Relapse rates are very high (upwards of 90%) for individuals who detox off opiates and do not go on Suboxone Treatment or another maintenance therapy.

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How our Specialized Detox Program Works

Opioid Detox / Detox from Opiates Using SuboxoneUpon your arrival to Sunshine Coast Health Centre, you will be seen by our nursing team for immediate assessment of your physical condition. They will begin the detox process with you. Within 24 hours, you will see our Medical Director who will provide a comprehensive medical assessment and discuss how you will start your Suboxone Treatment. Our location in Powell River, BC, makes us an easy choice for those seeking “opiate detox in Vancouver” or “opiate detox in Edmonton” as it is just a short flight away including of course other large cities in Canada such as Calgary or Toronto.

Many clients in our Specialized Detox Program have different experiences depending on the severity of their opiate/opioid use prior to admission. Our detox case managers will work on a detox care plan, which includes a range of services, with you during your stay. One of our counselors will check in with you daily to support the psychological and mental aspects of your detox. Depending on your physical health and with our Medical Director director’s clearance, you will have access to group therapy, massage, ozone, and fitness services if you wish.

Near the end of your stay, the nursing team will work with you to arrange for your Suboxone Treatment to continue with a clinic or physician in your home community. They will also provide personal education and training for your continued Suboxone Treatment, your Naloxone kit, and overdose prevention.

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Using Suboxone Does not Mean You’re “Still Addicted”

Many of our clients have initial resistance to our Specialized Detox Program and their Suboxone Treatment. This is often a result of stigma associated with medication-assisted treatments where there is a belief that people using medication as part of their detox, treatment, and long-term recovery are “still addicted” and “not really in recovery”. However, there is no research or evidence to support this belief.

This stigma and misinformation surrounding medication-assisted treatments like Suboxone often stem from the misuse of terms “dependency” and “addiction”. Dependence is frequently used as a synonym for addiction, but this isn’t the case. While addiction is characterized by traits such as control, compulsion, and consequence (see the Three C’s of Addiction), dependence on a drug or medication to function without withdrawal symptoms is not itself pathological. They don’t engage in compulsive use despite consequences — but merely dependent. (When opioids are taken in a steady, regular dose appropriate for a particular patient, that person will not be impaired and can safely drive, work, and parent.)

Medication-assisted Suboxone treatment for opioid addiction is much like using medication to treat other chronic illnesses. Dependence is a normal, physiological result of taking certain medications long-term. If “dependence” was how healthcare defined addiction, then people on medication for diabetes, high blood pressure, or a thyroid disorder would also be addicted. Taking a medication for opioid addiction like Suboxone is not the same as substituting one addictive drug for another.

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What is Suboxone and “Suboxone Detox?”

Suboxone is used to treat opioid addictions. It is a combination of two medications – buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, and naloxone, an opioid antagonist.

Unlike Methadone, Suboxone comes in a pill form and is taken “sublingually” (placed under the tongue to dissolve). The buprenorphine component is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream under the tongue. The naloxone portion is not absorbed and must either be swallowed or spit out.

Because Suboxone is a partial agonist, administering it to a client who has recently used opiates/opioids will put him into precipitated withdrawal. Precipitated withdrawal is a rapid onset and intense withdrawal caused by taking Suboxone too early when you still have residual opiates in your system. To minimize the chances of this, our physician will ensure you are in a partial opiate withdrawal state and then slowly introduce Suboxone to your system over several hours.

For more details on Suboxone, see our Suboxone Treatment page.

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How Long Does it Take?

Detoxing from opiates or methadone onto Suboxone takes an average of 7 days depending on a client’s physical condition when they arrive to our medical unit. As you near the end of your stay (if you are not continuing onto our drug rehab program at Sunshine Coast Health Centre), the nursing team will work with you to arrange for your Suboxone Treatment to continue with a clinic or physician in your home community. They will also provide personal education and training for your continued Suboxone Treatment, your Naloxone kit, and overdose prevention.

For more information or to register for our detox program, contact us at 1.866.487.9010 or register online.