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Detox – The First Step in Addiction Treatment

If you suffer from addiction to drugs or alcohol, but want to commit to a life of sobriety and clean living, detoxification (or detox) in addiction treatment is the first step. When you have decided that you have had enough of being ‘high’, ‘stoned’ or using drugs as a crutch, find a professional treatment center that can help you to seek a life of sobriety. Don’t try to ‘go it alone’. Withdrawal effects are dangerous. Withdrawing from alcohol, opiates, prescription drugs and stimulants can all cause symptoms that may be life threatening.

In the U.S., the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reported that more than 80,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths each year in the United States. In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control (WONDER)  reported that there were more 64,000 drug overdose deaths. Meanwhile, about 24 million people need treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. Of these, only 11% of these actually get professional help.

This makes the problem of drug and alcohol abuse worrying.

As you come to grips with the physical reality of addiction and getting sober, you may sometimes feel fear, confusion and desperation. That is normal. Stay resolute and commit to wanting a life of sobriety.

Table of Contents

  • Addiction: Substance Abuse Disorder
  • What is Detox?:
  • Why is Detox Important?
  • Detox in the Addiction Treatment Timeline
  • After Detox

Addiction: Substance Abuse Disorder

Addiction is a complex disease which affects brain and body functions. It also causes serious damage to families, relationships, workplaces and communities. The side effects of addiction are severe loss of control, insatiable cravings for the substance of choice, preoccupation with using, failed attempts to quit, tolerance and withdrawal.

Addicts have an insatiable hunger to use their substance (s) of choice, be it alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life. That is all they care about. They keep using even when they know it will cause problems. Such individuals have intense cravings for the substance (s) of choice which they cannot overcome.

These substances can cause harmful changes in how the brain functions and can last long after the effects of the drug wears off. Over a period of time, people with an addiction build up a tolerance which means that they will need more of the drug to experience the same effects.

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What Is Detox?

Medical detox is specifically designed to treat the immediate effects on the body when you stop using.

Detox in addiction treatment is just the first step. The detox process focuses on physical healing after long-term drug abuse and addiction. On its own, it is not enough to change long term drug use. But, for you, it can signal the start of an effective addiction treatment program.

According to (NIDA), detox rids the body of addictive drugs while managing withdrawal symptoms. For you, this is an important first step to drug addiction recovery once you’ve made the decision to seek professional help.

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Why Is Detox Important?

Detox in addiction treatment is typically conducted under a doctor’s care. This is because you could experience life-threatening medical issues if you try to withdraw from drug addiction on your own. Apart from helping you to safely withdraw from drug use, a medical detox program can also help you to seamlessly transition into rehab.

Above all, remember that addiction is both physical and psychological. This means that treatment therapies must address both issues. While detox in addiction treatment can help stop the abuse of drugs, a relapse can occur if there is no follow-up care.

Detox Specifics

Detox in addiction treatment programs should always take place in a professional facility where you can have access to healthcare professionals, medical care for any physical or psychological symptoms and a clear path to addiction treatment after detox.

In this way, you have the best shot of staying sober and learning skills that can help you cope with long term recovery. Remember that treatment options can be mixed with medication, behavioral therapy, counseling as well as group and individual therapy.

For many individuals, the first step of detox in addiction treatment can be very intense. Sometimes, they show violent behavior, drug-induced psychosis, medical illnesses and suicidal thoughts. Once these symptoms are identified, treatment staff will try to stabilize the patient. After that, treatment staff will deal with detox withdrawal symptoms.

The withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the substance being abused. For example, if you are addicted to heroin, you may experience bone or muscle pain. If you are addicted to prescription opioids, for example, you may experience night sweats or vomiting. The process of recovery from drug addiction is more helpful when it is combined with mental health therapy.

The major types of detox in addiction treatment include:

  • Alcohol detox
  • Inpatient detox
  • Opiate detox
  • Outpatient detox

A doctor or trained professional can monitor individuals for signs of hallucinations, severe anxiety, nausea and heart palpitations. Other side effects associated with opioids, hallucinogens and marijuana abuse can lead to mental health problems and relapse as a result of severe symptoms.

Professional rehab centers have specific detox in addiction treatment programs to help you avoid relapse and provide emergency care when needed. The most effective ones combine drug detoxification with follow-up treatment. Work closely with treatment center staff to choose the best detox method for your specific need.

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Detox In The Addiction Treatment Timeline

So, what is the first 72 hours of detox in addiction treatment like? Detox symptoms vary from person to person and depend on the type of drugs used. Generally, you will experience effects such as irritability, anxiety, headaches, cravings, sweating, chills, depression and insomnia. For several days, you may have a difficult time functioning normally.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the withdrawal timeline typically begins one day after the last intake of the drug. Be aware that you will experience the most difficult withdrawal symptoms on the second and third days.

Symptoms can include headaches, cravings, sweating, chills and gastrointestinal distress. Although the symptoms will gradually fade, you can sometimes experience such effects for up to two weeks.

On the first day of detox in addiction treatment, the first symptoms appear right after the active molecules of the substance of choice have been processed. The body now expects another dose. Once your body does not receive a dose of the drug, you will often begin to fidget in your sleep. The most common symptom of withdrawal is insomnia. Insomnia can manifest itself as restlessness and difficulty falling asleep, a complete failure to sleep or waking up regularly during the night. During the early stages of detox, other side effects can include nightmares. It can be very difficult to relax at night.

This means that you may possibly lose control of your emotions. Other side effects can include irritation, aggression and episodes of rage. Some people may feel just mild irritation, while others may experience outbursts or episodes of rage. Another side effect of detox in addiction treatment is the loss of concentration, difficulty learning and some memory loss.

At this time, you may also experience anxiety attacks. Since the effects of the drug of choice or depressants such as alcohol are no longer active, some individuals can feel uneasy and anxious.

During the first three days of detox in addiction treatment, hard core substance abusers will likely face some unpleasant physical consequences. Headaches, night sweats and chills are common though these will fade after a few days. You may also experience irregular temperature and uncontrollable sweating. This is because the body is attempting to rid itself of toxins.

In addition, you may also experience a loss of appetite which can result in a loss of weight. Other digestive issues can include stomach cramps and nausea.

During this time, it is important for you to stay strong. Your body is reacting to detox in addiction treatment. At this point, you may begin to crave the drug. This is why it is important to detox in a safe and structured environment. This keeps you away from being tempted to use. Having a transition plan for further treatment is critical to your recovery as detox progresses.

Marijuana Detox

Despite the fact that the body is in turmoil, this is a critical point in the recovery process because of the high risk of relapse. The discomfort and cravings are strong relapse triggers. Despite the common belief that marijuana is a harmless drug, many people develop a dependence on it. Some may even become physically addicted to marijuana and require a medically supervised detox from THC, the psychotropic element found in pot. Withdrawal from marijuana can be just as painful and difficult as any other type of detox.

The length and intensity of withdrawal varies with each person. Those who use the drug for a longer amount of time can expect more intense withdrawal symptoms. Other factors that affect marijuana withdrawal symptoms include the frequency and length of the use, the amount typically consumed, the tolerance level developed, the individual’s emotional and physical vulnerability, general health and metabolism and amount of body fat.

According to the NIH, studies have also shown that emotional and physical vulnerability also play a part in the THC detox process. High strung individuals that are less able to handle stress will likely experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. People who are healthy will be able to get rid of toxins like THC and end unpleasant withdrawal sensations. Fatty tissues store THC molecules. This means that the more fat a person has, the more THC he or she stores in their body.

Different types of marijuana products have varying levels of potency. This means that the drug will stay in the body for different periods of time.

Most symptoms will start to fade gradually. However, some side effects such as depression, mood swings, cravings and emotional behavior may linger. At this time, your brain’s chemistry is undergoing changes trying to adapt and function without THC.

After two weeks, most of the withdrawal symptoms should disappear. However, some of these symptoms may linger on for several months. That is especially the case for people who have been using for a long time. After two weeks, people may begin coughing up phlegm. This is a result of the body attempting to clear the lungs after extended abuse. After about two weeks, insomnia usually stops. Heavy pot users may take up to two months to return to a regular sleep cycle. Depression and anxiety usually go on for several months. This is often because the user has an underlying mental issue, and should see a therapist. For this reason, at least 30 days of treatment post detox is recommended to build a foundation for ongoing recovery and mental health.

Find a rehab facility that can outline a good aftercare plan as you will need to transition from detox to residential care.

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What Comes After Detox?

After detox, seek follow-up care and therapy to overcome addiction. Participate in counseling sessions to better understand and address changes made to the brain. Understand why you have cravings for your drug of choice which is a common result of substance abuse.

A professional detox program can be followed by a structured plan of therapy to treat the underlying causes of addiction.  

  • Enter into a rehab or treatment center. This will, of course, depend on the type of substance you are using such as a prescription drugs detox center or an alcohol detox center.
  • Enroll in life skills classes to learn how to maintain responsibilities and function in a healthy manner.
  • Take part in support groups and/or personal counselling sessions.
  • Schedule regular visits to your doctor or treatment center to ensure you are on the right path.
  • Prevent self-medication.
  • Prepare a relapse prevention plan.

Alcohol And Drug Addiction

The National Library of Medicine defines delirium tremens, or DTs as the severe and life-threatening form of alcohol withdrawal. It “involves sudden and severe mental or nervous system changes” that often cannot be predicted in time for the individual to reach the appropriate detox program, if they are not already in it.

Sometimes, those recovering from alcohol abuse can experience severe and lasting effects of withdrawal that will require long term psychological and medical care. For many types of substance abuse, depression is a severe symptom of detox in addiction treatment. This can sometimes accompany other mental disorders, such as anxiety, paranoia and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that will require long-term treatment.

Treating such issues is part and parcel of the healing process and can reduce the risk of relapse. It is much safer for you to go through medically supervised detox than to try and detox at home.

Bear in mind that not every recovering addict completes detoxification on their first attempt. Sometimes, patients try several times before sobriety sticks. Drug addiction is chronic by nature, and relapse is a common occurrence.

Don’t give up and stay upbeat. If you start abusing drugs during or after withdrawal, your tolerance to the drug of choice may not be the same as it once was. This can put you at a risk for an overdose if the drugs that you need are miscalculated.

Professional rehab centers have a full range of programs to help you continue your path to sobriety. However, after completing a detox in addiction treatment program, you may feel hope, anticipation, grief or even anger.

Rely on help from your friends, family and even your professional treatment center as you learn how to cope with the stressors and social situations of the real world. Surround yourself with friends, peers and loved ones who will keep you on the right track. You will have better chances if you stay upbeat, resolute and determined to live a clean life.

Not everyone who gets through detox goes on to complete a comprehensive rehab program. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) advises that individuals who attend a long-term treatment program are more likely to stay clean than those who don’t. In fact, the NIDA reports that addicts who go through detox without any rehab treatment are almost as likely to relapse as those who don’t go through detox at all.

A recovering addict should leverage on rehab programs to help lift them from a life of abuse.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the following are core elements of a drug rehab program:

  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Behavioral modification counseling
  • Anti-addiction medication to help control cravings
  • Self-help support groups
  • Social services and vocational counseling
  • Education on the health risks of drug abuse
  • Aftercare programs to support your abstinence after rehab

The Future Is Full Of Promise

Detox in addiction treatment is just the first step and a stepping stone to your life of sobriety. Once you’ve completed detox in addiction treatment, look forward to the rehab process. Many ex-addicts report that they feel a renewed sense of purpose in their road to recovery.

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Recovering Champions Is an accredited drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, that believes addiction treatment should not just address “how to stay sober” but needs to transform the life of the addict and empower him or her to create a more meaningful and positive life. We are dedicated to transforming the despair of addiction into a purposeful life of confidence, self-respect and happiness. We want to give recovering addicts the tools to return to the outside world completely substance-free and successful.

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