You Can Make it Through Detox
Detox is one of the most difficult parts of the journey to sobriety; every person who has ever been through it can agree on that. And if you haven’t started the process yet, you are likely mostly afraid of how severe the detox process will be. Portrayals of detoxing addicts on TV and in movies show the symptoms to be severe indeed—including convulsions, fevers, chills, and vomiting. It would be a lie to say that none of those things ever happen; but while detox is definitely a very deeply unpleasant experience, most people’s detox is not as dramatic as film and TV portray it as—an important thing to keep in mind.
What Detox Is, What it Does
The exact detox symptoms that an addict will experience depend on a lot of factors, including what drug they are addicted to and how long they have been using. Addicts detoxing from oxycodone are going to have different symptoms from addicts detoxing from Ritalin, and addicts detoxing from alcohol are going to have a different experience from those coming off of heroin. Generally speaking, symptoms of detox tend to include nausea, irritability, headache, insomnia, fatigue, excessive sweating, depression, headache, and loss of appetite. The symptoms can last for up to several days.
It’s important to know why this is happening to you—or will happen to you if you make the decision to enter detox and continue with addiction rehabilitation after that. As you use an addictive substance over time, the body becomes accustomed to coping with it. With many drugs, this includes no longer producing some of the neurotransmitters that the drug interacts with. When you remove the drug, the body is forced to adapt suddenly to its absence—something that it initially finds difficult. Do not let this be a reason for you to not detox—you are absolutely better off getting clean in the long run. But the body doesn’t like change, even when it’s change for the better, so in the adjustment period, you’ll feel these symptoms because the body is re-learning what normal life is like.
What Detox Options Are There?
There are several ways that a person can detox from drugs; some methods are better than others. One way that addicts sometimes attempt is to go “cold turkey,” that is, they simply discontinue their drugs all at once, in one fell swoop, with no assistance, suffering through the detox symptoms until they are “clean.” While some addicts have been successful in this method, no medical professional would recommend it, because there are a lot of risks involved. While most acute withdrawals are not necessarily life-threatening on their own, if you have a sustained bout of vomiting, it can lead to secondary problems like dehydration.
A better option is an assisted detox; this just means that you have someone by your side to help you manage symptoms—they can make sure you’re not becoming dehydrated, they can call for medical help if it’s required. If you have a loved one who is particularly dedicated and patient, they might possibly be willing to assist you in detoxing.
The best option by far is medically assisted detox. This form of detox not only means that you have someone to help you out—making sure you stay hydrated, keeping you as comfortable as possible—but also taking medications that can help ease detox symptoms like nausea and diarrhea and insomnia. Some medically-assisted detox programs will also provide medications to “buffer” the addict—such as antidepressants or replacement opioid drugs. While these programs are not without their detractors, they can be beneficial for many.
Detox is not a pleasant experience for anyone; however, once you are through detox, you can start the journey to a happier life of sobriety—which is a huge reward for a few days of intense discomfort.