The first step for anyone who wants to overcome an addiction is admitting the problem exists in the first place. This might sound easy, but in truth, this can be the hardest part of the recovery journey. With so much negative hype surrounding addiction, those affected often do not want to admit their predicament. They would rather bury their head in the sand, hoping the issue will go away if it is ignored. Unfortunately, this never happens. However, once the individual is ready to admit to having a problem, he or she is in a position to move on and get their life back on track. If you are at this point, then you may be aware that the next stage is usually a detoxification, but what is addiction detox? What can you expect from this process and are you ready for it?
What to Think About in Terms of Addiction Detox
If you have a physical addiction to alcohol or drugs, you are almost certainly going to need to detox before you can get started on tackling the psychological and emotional issues relating to your illness. However, there are several things you need to think about before you get started. Withdrawal from drugs or alcohol can be quite complicated, and it can be dangerous to go gung-ho into the process without speaking to a medical professional first or getting some advice about how it should be done.
If you are eager to begin, you might believe that you can just stop taking drugs or alcohol and let the process happen naturally. Of course, you can do this if you wish but there is a risk of severe complications with detoxification, so it is advisable that you are fully prepared for the event.
It is important that you are aware of what might happen during a detox and that you are completely comfortable with your choice. Before you decide whether to detox at home or in a medical facility, you should get some professional advice.
What is Addiction Detox Like?
An addiction detox is the process that is designed to tackle the physical addiction. The aim of the detoxification is to break the bond between the individual and the substance that he or she has been relying on for a long time.
The first time a person took drugs or drank alcohol their body reacted by either speeding up or slowing down, depending on the type of substance they used. As alcohol is a sedative drug that slows the mind and body, the natural reaction of the body’s functions are to speed up. This is done in a bid to resist the changes that have been imposed by the chemical substance. The opposite is true for drugs that speed up the body’s various systems, cocaine being an example.
When the effects of these drugs wear off, the body overcompensates as it tries to get itself back to normal. This can leave the affected person feeling agitated or uncomfortable, and many will respond by taking more of the drug. A cycle of drug taking can quickly occur, and as the person’s tolerance to the effects of the substance increases, he or she will usually feel the need to increase their consumption. Before long, the body begins to crave the substance and a physical dependence occurs. Whenever the effects wear off, the body will react and various withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, sweating, and nausea can occur.
During the detox process, the supply of drugs or alcohol is completely cut off, which can cause the body to go into overdrive as it tries to get back to some semblance of normality. As it does this, a variety of withdrawal symptoms will occur as the body attempts to eliminate all remaining traces of chemicals and toxins.
How You Will Feel During a Detox
The process of detoxification takes around seven to ten days, and how it affects specific individuals will depend on the substance they were addicted to, how long they were addicted, and how severe their addiction was. Those who have been abusing a particular substance for many years are likely to feel worse than those who have been abusing the same substance for a shorter period.
What is certain, however, is the fact that detox is never a pleasant experience. Those who go through this process are likely to feel a lot worse before they begin to feel better. But the thing to remember if this is something you are going through is that you will feel better. The withdrawal symptoms associated with detox will reach a peak before they will begin to subside.
Some people will experience many different withdrawal symptoms while others will only ever experience one or two. It is impossible to know in advance which symptoms a person will experience. For this reason, it is often advisable for individuals to detox in a medical facility where trained staff are on hand to react in the event of an emergency.
Is It Wise to Detox at Home?
Detoxing at home is something that many people are interested in because they believe they will feel better in familiar surroundings. Others want to keep their illness under wraps and believe that getting clean behind closed doors will ensure that this happens.
Whatever your reason for considering a home detox, it is wise to learn as much as you can about an addiction detox before making a final decision. As detoxing from drugs or alcohol can be dangerous, it makes sense to be fully informed before attempting the process at home. For most, detoxing at home is a bad idea. It is much safer and far more comfortable to carry out a detox in a medical facility where professional staff are in attendance.
There are certain circumstances where detoxing at home is not a good idea. These include:
- If you suffer with severe depression and have had suicidal thoughts in the past
- If you have already experienced withdrawal symptoms such as extreme tremors or hallucinations when in need of alcohol or drugs
- If you have been a heavy drinker for many years and are middle-aged or older
- If you are prone to violent or aggressive behaviour when under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- If you have chronic health problems such as hepatitis C, lung damage, liver disease or heart problems
- If you have suffered with seizures or convulsions in the past.
Falling into the above categories does not necessarily mean that you cannot detox at home, but doing so would put you at higher risk of complications and should therefore be avoided if possible.
You need to also remember that detoxing at home will require constant supervision. You will need a number of people to agree to supervise the detox, and as you need to be supervised at all times, these people will have to agree to take shifts. They will also need to be prepared for the responsibility that this role entails. They will have to be prepared to react in the event of an emergency to ensure your safety at all times.
What to Expect from Detox
Detoxification will differ depending on the individual and the type of drug involved. For example, those who are detoxing from alcohol will usually notice an onset of withdrawal symptoms around six hours after they stop drinking. However, for some people, it can be up to twelve hours before the symptoms become noticeable.
Minor symptoms are the first to appear and typically include headaches, restlessness, anxiety, sweating, shaking, and mood swings. As the detox progresses, symptoms may become more moderate in their intensity. Shaking might become more pronounced and the individual could feel nauseous and lose their appetite. Vomiting and diarrhoea are also common at this stage.
Those completing an alcohol detox may also be easily startled and irritable. Fatigue is common, but so too is the inability to sleep. Rapid pulse and raised blood pressure may also occur, and other moderate symptoms include loss of memory, depression, and feelings of fear.
For some alcoholics, severe and even life-threatening symptoms can occur. These are rare but should always be treated as a medical emergency. Severe symptoms are known as delirium tremens (DTs). The onset of the DTs can occur any time from twenty-four to seventy-two hours after the person has had their last drink. These consist of a number of sudden changes to the nervous system and brain, and if left untreated, can be fatal.
Those who experience the DTs will typically have more severe symptoms, which could also include hallucinations, paranoid delusions, and convulsions. These symptoms can cause the patient to become violent and aggressive.
Treatment During a Detox
As you might imagine, detoxing at home could become a frightening experience for both the recovering addict and the supervisor. It is for this reason that we always suggest a medically supervised detox.
As well as the knowledge that fully-trained medical professionals are on hand to treat any medical emergencies that arise, it is often possible to prevent the most severe symptoms with a combination of medication and nutritional supplements if deemed appropriate for the affected individual.
What Happens After Detox
Most people assume that they will feel great once their detox has been completed, and many will. They will feel a huge sense of pride to having stayed clean and sober for a period of one to two weeks, and so they should. Nevertheless, this is not a time for complacency. Those who have managed to complete a detox, should not be lulled into a false sense of security.
It is at this point that a programme of rehabilitation must follow. No matter how great you feel right now, you are unlikely to feel this way forever. You need to continue your good work and tackle the psychological side of the illness now.
If you want to avoid a relapse going forward, you need to make sure you deal with all aspects of the addiction. This means that rehabilitation is very important at this stage. During rehab, you will learn more about addiction and what caused it. You will also learn how to avoid a relapse going forward.
What must also be mentioned at this point is the fact that you are likely to feel completely healthy once your detox has finished. Most assume that once they stop taking drugs or drinking alcohol they are going to feel great once more. There may be an initial period where they feel good and might have more energy, but after years of substance abuse, it may take some time before the body has fully healed.
You can expect to experience various aches and pains as well as several other ailments as the body tries to get back to normal. In most circumstances, these health problems will improve with time. Nonetheless, should you experience any lingering conditions or any worsening of pain, you should speak to your doctor at once.
Accessing a Suitable Detox Programme
If you have decided to detox in a supervised medical facility, we can help. Oasis Bradford has been offering high quality detox and rehabilitation programmes for many years, and our excellent record of success makes us one of the top choices for those who want to overcome their drug and alcohol addictions for good.
If you would like more information on the detox process and what to expect, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today. We can answer any queries you may have, and if you are ready to move onto the next stage of your journey, we can assist. Call our dedicated helpline now or complete our online contact form and we will get in touch with you.