Making the decision to get clean after struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs may be the most important step in your path to recovery and a new life. However, it won’t be the last. No matter how heavy your drinking or substance abuse was, recovery is possible and the support of peers and doctors is part of it.
It is important to remember that detoxication or recovery is a gradual process and being patient with the person struggling with this circumstance will be one of the best tools. In the early stages of change, denial is a huge obstacle. Communication is fundamental, talking to friends, family, doctors, and support groups might give you a direction on where to start.
If you or a loved one are not sure or ready to make this big change or are struggling with the decision, it can help to think about the costs and benefits of choosing to get detoxified. These tips can help you get started on moving in with the treatment for addiction.
- Everyone is different and no treatment works for all – there’s no single treatment that works for everyone. Addictions are not just about the substance, other factors are important to finding the proper treatment to treat the problem and find a solution. As humans, we are all unique and have different needs, it is important to find a program that feels right for you or you’re loved one.
- Seek additional treatment services – There are many people in the community who will support others dealing with addiction detox and recovery. Doctors, psychologists, therapists, social workers, clergy members, etc. Don’t limit your support group to just one.
- Commitment and follow-through – Detox or recovery takes time, therefore commitment and follow-up are key during this process. Depending on the case, the longer and more intense the abuse, the longer and more intense the treatment needed. Believing the treatment is worth it, acknowledging the effort and long-term follow-up care is crucial for recovery.
- Addressing mental health issues – Addiction affects your whole life, people often abuse substances to ease emotional or psychological traumas. Treatment success depends on examing other factors that influenced the addiction. As you or your loved one seek help for alcohol addiction, it’s also important to get treatment for any other psychological issues you’re experiencing.
When someone uses certain drugs or alcohol repeatedly, their brain adapts to the presence of the substance. This causes the person and its body to become physiologically dependent on the substance and reliant on it to function and feel “normal”. Once in this state of dependence, the absence of the substance can trigger heavy withdrawal symptoms. During this period of withdrawal, the body is attempting to reach a new state of homeostasis, resulting in large fluctuations in brain chemicals, mental, and physical health repercussions.
Talking with a detox doctor about your plans to get sober is important to make sure that you are safe and well cared for during your recovery period. Quitting drugs and alcohol may be accompanied by a long and often unpleasant withdrawal period, during which time your body re-acclimates to its normal, healthy state — one where it is no longer dependent on substances just to feel normal.
Abruptly quitting drugs or alcohol can cause a shock to your system, as it tries to function without the substances it has come to depend on. This shock is what causes severe withdrawal, the physical symptoms may include goosebumps and fever, flu-like symptoms, nausea, diarrhea, hot and cold flashes, and muscle or body aches. It may also include several distressing psychological symptoms such as depressed mood, irritation, hallucinations, psychotic episodes, nervousness or anxiety, trouble sleeping, lethargy, and even thoughts of self-harm. Cravings are also incredibly common during the withdrawal process, which can lead many well-intentioned quitters to relapse. In fact, 95% of people who try to go through the detoxification process alone will likely relapse.
Drug Withdrawal Timelines
The duration of recovery, withdrawal, and the entire detox process is largely influenced by the substance and magnitude of the dependence. Depending on various factors and individual differences it may take days, weeks, or even months to reach complete resolution of recovery. Here is a general overview of the drug withdrawal timeline.
- Alcohol: Symptoms may appear from two hours to four days after the last drink. Noticeable body discomfort may include anxiety, headaches, tremors, and even the risk of seizures.
- Benzodiazepines: This include Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and Clonazepam. Withdrawal symptoms begin 1 to 4 days and may include panic attacks, insomnia, depression, nausea, muscle spams, to mention a few.
- Short-acting opioids: In this category come heroin and certain prescription painkillers. Acute opioid withdrawal symptoms generally being 8-24 hours after the last use. Most common symptoms include hot and cold flashes, nervousness, diarrhea, nausea, muscle cramps, and excessive sweating.
This is where detox doctors come in. They can work with you to monitor your symptoms and provide you with a customized plan for your drug addiction or alcoholism treatment. They might suggest an inpatient clinic or an outpatient program, as well as connect you with any other types of counseling or support programs you may require.
Additionally, some treatment plans may involve medical prescriptions. Methadone and Suboxone are both prescription drugs that are sometimes used to alleviate symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be treated with chlordiazepoxide, as well as vitamin B1, folic acid, and iron supplements. Whether inpatient or outpatient, it’s important to monitor the effectiveness of any medications you may be prescribed by your detox doctor during the withdrawal period.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance addiction, it’s never too late to ask for help. Try talking with a detox doctor to learn more about your options and how you might have a better path to achieve a full recovery and a new lease on life.