All About Detox
If you seriously want to get clean and sober and stop letting addiction rule your life, you need to first of all stop using your substance. You’ve probably already thought about detox and how you will handle going through withdrawal. While this is an intimidating step in the recovery process, it is also necessary, so do your research and know what to expect so you can summon the courage to enroll in the right detox program.
Symptoms of Detox
Detox is different for everyone. If you have been addicted to a drug or alcohol for several years, you are going to notice withdrawal symptoms much more than if you recently started using. If you have other health issues or have been combining substances, you should look into a higher level of care to help you through detox.
Certain substances, like prescription painkillers, heroin, and cocaine, are uncomfortable to withdraw from, but not physically harmful. Other substances, like alcohol and benzodiazepines (tranquilizers), can be very dangerous to detox from, even life-threatening, and special care should be taken in these circumstances. Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a week or two.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
- Racing heart
- Muscle tension
- Tightness in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
- Difficulty concentrating
- Social isolation
- Drug cravings
Dangerous Symptoms of Alcohol and Tranquilizer Withdrawal
- Grand mal seizures
- Heart attacks
- Delirium tremens (DTs)
Types of Detox
Any withdrawal can pose problems, and you can never be too careful when selecting a detox program. You want a program that first of all is designed with your safety in mind, and then also keeps you motivated for your recovery so you don’t give up and go home.
There are different types of detox, each with its own level of care, and when you are looking for a good detox, keep in mind your needs, your drug use history, and your payment options, and match what the facility has to offer with those factors.
Detoxing at home can be dangerous, and is generally not advised. Some substances, like alcohol and benzos, can pose life-threatening symptoms that need to be closely monitored by medical staff. While other substances might not put you at risk for serious physical side effects, they will continue to control your mind and plague you with cravings and urges to use again. Most home detox attempts fail because there is no one there to encourage, motivate, and keep you going. There can also be unforeseen complications with any detox, and it’s just not worth the risk to try to do it on your own.
Some facilities offer supervised detox in an inpatient setting. In this case, you will be monitored around-the-clock, going through detox with a family of treatment professionals, support staff, and others in recovery to help you along. Supervised, or social, detox is nice because you don’t have to worry about anything while you detox – the facility will take care of your meals, your daily activities, making sure you get enough rest, and most importantly, starting your therapy as soon as possible. You will be free to focus on your recovery, and won’t feel alone during this type of detox, because of the structure.
For those who are undergoing withdrawal from alcohol and benzos, medical detox offers a safe option. It is also frequently used for opiate withdrawal, as there are several medications that can help ease symptoms. However, anyone can choose medical detox and benefit from the qualified medical staff to provide supportive care and medications to reduce symptoms and length of withdrawal. During this type of detox, you will be admitted to a hospital-like setting, where doctors and staff can monitor you closely and administer symptom-reducing and even life-saving medication when warranted.
There are several medications that have been proven effective for detox.
- Methadone: For opiate withdrawal, this medication decreases cravings and alleviates uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. It is sometimes used long term as an opiate replacement drug.
- Buprenorphine: For opiate withdrawal, this opioid agonist decreases cravings and eliminates withdrawal symptoms.
- Naltrexone: For opiate withdrawal, this medication blocks the effects of opiate drugs, preventing a high and reducing cravings.
- Acamprosate: This medication reduces effects of alcohol detox by helping normalize brain activity and decrease alcohol cravings.
- Disulfiram: This medication alleviates side effects of withdrawal, including nausea, sweating, and palpitations.
Finally, some programs offer rapid detox. This is when you are sedated and put under general anesthesia and then given medications to help your body quickly detox. This is most commonly offered for opiate withdrawal, which is uncomfortable but not dangerous.
Rehab after Detox
Detox should not be the end of your treatment. Regardless of the type of detox you decide to enroll in, you also need to find a rehab program you can transition into after detox for continued support. Just because you have the substance out of your body does not mean you are miraculously healed. It will take time, determination, and the help of an experienced treatment team to get you back to sober living. A good place to start is to talk to your detox facility and find out what programs they work with.
If you need help finding a good detox program for your needs, we can help. Sober Helpline’s staff of specialists will work with you to help determine what type of detox will be right for you, and then help you enroll in that program. Contact us at (888) 907-8039 to get started today.