By LYLE R. FRIED, CAP, ICADC, CHC In Addiction Withdrawal, Alcoholism
Posted January 5, 2016
“The fear of stopping shouldn’t be a barrier to recovery. I couldn’t handle withdrawal. I would of never stopped without the option of medical detox.” —Kim S.
Drug addiction, including chronic alcoholism, is a progressive, potentially fatal disease, characterized by an incessant craving for, increased tolerance of, physical dependence upon, and loss of control over drugs or alcohol. It is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. Addiction is considered a brain disease because drugs and alcohol change the chemical structure of the brain, and how it works.
You might be dependent on drugs or alcohol if you have any of the following warning signs:
- Tolerance: You are consuming more to get the same effect.
- Loss of Control: Drinking or using drugs more than planned, for longer than intended, or despite telling yourself that you would stop or slow down considerably.
- Physical Dependence: You have experienced withdrawal symptoms, such as nauseousness, heart palpitations, shakiness, physical twitches, and/or anxiety.
- You spend a lot of time drinking or using drugs and recovering from it.
- You hide alcohol or drink before going out with friends, so you will appear to have consumed less.
- You have tried to quit or reduce the amount you use drugs or alcohol, but were unsuccessful.
- You often black out when you drink. You’ve overdosed.
- You have legal problems directly related to drug or alcohol use.
- Friends or loved ones have voiced concern over your drinking or drug use.
Okay, so now what? What if you are addicted and need to stop? The next step is called detox.
Detoxing (or detoxification) from drugs or alcohol is marked by the withdrawal symptoms you will experience. Many view it as the most difficult part about getting clean. Detox takes a vast emotional and physical toll on an individual. Withdrawal symptoms are often so taxing that the fear of having to go through them hinders addicts from getting clean. A few of the most common withdrawal symptoms include: anxiety or jumpiness, trembling, sweating, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, depression and irritability. With a rap sheet like that, it makes sense for people to avoid detox, right?
Thankfully, recovery has made improvements over the years. Quitting “cold turkey” and spending days sweating and vomiting in bed alone are behind us. Medical detox makes it possible for anyone, struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, to detox safely and much more comfortably.
What is it like to self-detox from drugs or alcohol?
- Self-detoxing from alcohol.
There is a common misconception when it comes to quitting alcohol. Because the majority of our populations doesn’t consider alcohol to be a “dangerous drug” most individuals struggling with alcoholism think they can give it up without assistance. The truth is that alcohol is considered to be the most dangerous to quit. Suddenly giving up alcohol can cause hallucinations, convulsions, stroke, seizures or heart attack, which can lead to death. Further symptoms include: anxiety, insomnia, nauseousness, body twitches, mood swings and shakiness. A great deal of anxiety, mental anguish and lack of clarity are common with alcohol detox.
- Self-detoxing from methamphetamine.
With meth, the majority of symptoms are psychological. The intense, unbearable mental lows experienced during the withdrawal process of methamphetamine often pushes people to use again. The most common symptoms of meth withdrawal include: aggression, anxiety, sleeping for days, intense hunger, intense cravings, irritability, lethargy, paranoia, depression, and suicidal thoughts.
- Self-detoxing from heroin.
The prevalence of heroin use in America is exceptionally high. “From 2002 to 2013, heroin dependence and abuse in the United States increased 90 percent, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).” It is also one of the most difficult addictions to conquer. Although every person is different, some say detoxing from heroin is destined for failure without medical assistance. The withdrawal symptoms of heroin range in severity from person to person and are spread out over a few days. The peak of withdrawal happens between day 2 and 4. The symptoms with heroin withdrawal include: abdominal pain, anxiety, chills, diarrhea, insomnia, irritability, nausea, sneezing, sniffing, sweating, vomiting and weakness.
These are just three of the most common addiction detox situations. With this information it very clear how dangerous and unbearable it can be to try to detox without medical assistance.
What is medical detox?
Medical detox refers to the process of detoxing from drugs or alcohol, with a certain level of assistance which would otherwise be unavailable. During medical detox clients are supervised, and certain medicinal methods are used in order to control the intensity of withdrawal symptoms as well as the well-being of the individual. These medicinal precautions are taken in order to ensure a safe, effective, and tolerable detox for every client. However, the use of detox medications is closely monitored, and only employed for a short period of time. This is called a taper.
The detox methods which were once considered universally normal are no longer the only way. It is no longer acceptable for a person going through the darkest hours of their life to be left to get through it on their own. Not only is it physically dangerous, but it is emotionally traumatizing.
Medical detox creates an environment where individuals struggling with addiction feel safe, and are able to discontinue using without the unbearable fear of going through withdrawal.
At The Shores Treatment and Recovery we understand exactly how difficult it can be to break the cycle of addiction and lead a sober life. We have helped hundreds of men and women achieve this goal and maintain sobriety long-term. Are you or someone you know currently struggling with addiction? Are you searching for help? Please contact us any time at (888) 775-9377 . We look forward to helping you on the journey to sobriety.