Dealing with an addiction – alcohol or drug abuse – starts with complete elimination of substance intake. Usually, abrupt cessation of alcohol or drug use is accompanied by an alcohol withdrawal syndrome – a group of adverse symptoms, including headaches, anxiety, nausea, tremor, and in some severe cases, even seizures and hallucinations. For many people, it is the main obstacle on their way to sobriety.
For that reason, detoxification is a necessary step of any effective recovery program as providing your body with detox from alcohol substances helps you cope with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Whether you are treated at home or a rehab facility, medical observation and routine blood tests remain necessary.
This article will explain all stages of detox treatment for addiction recovery. Read on to get an idea of what to expect from it.
What is Detox Treatment?
Detoxification is a process of withdrawal from alcohol or drugs. It involves the functional elimination of psychoactive substances from your body.
Usually, detoxification is done under medical supervision because alcohol and drug use can cause many physiological changes in the organism, resulting in severe adverse reactions or even death.
During the process of withdrawal from psychoactive substances, you may face both physical symptoms and psychosocial problems. At the same time, you will probably experience cravings for drugs or alcohol. Detox treatment provides you with the help you need to cope with these symptoms and urges.
There are several methods of detoxification from alcohol and drugs that vary from one rehabilitation facility to another; however, they all include the same steps:
- Preparation. Before starting the detox program, your doctor should examine your overall health condition to determine possible withdrawal symptoms and medications needed during the detoxification.
- Withdrawal. During the withdrawal period, which starts approximately from 6 to 24 hours after the last use – depending on the type of substance used – your body will start ridding itself of toxic substances. Withdrawal has its own three stages – mild, moderate, and severe – characterised by the severity of its symptoms.
- Stabilisation. After completing the withdrawal period, you will begin feeling better physically and mentally; however, the worsening of physical symptoms may still occur for several reasons (such as getting sick or undergoing stress). Therefore, you need to have enough time to rest in a quiet place while being monitored by medical professionals. This way, they can detect dangerous complications and take necessary measures if those appear.
- Reintroduction. As some symptoms may persist in a mild form (low energy, delayed reflexes, anxiety, trouble sleeping) for several weeks, it is crucial not to neglect treating them with medications to exclude the possibility of relapse during your reintroduction to social life. Apart from that, you gradually return to your previous life but in a sober state that helps prevent lasting damage caused by long-term alcohol or drug use. It usually includes attending support group meetings, counselling sessions, and participating in social activities to become emotionally stable without any harmful chemicals in your body.
How Long Does Detox Last?
Detox duration varies depending on the type of substance used and your biological characteristics. It takes longer when more substances are used, or multiple addictions are involved (for example, cocaine abuse combined with alcohol addiction). Additionally, people who undergo detox under supervision are much more likely to complete it successfully than those who do not seek professional help for their addiction recovery.
It takes approximately two weeks for an average person to complete detoxification from alcohol and four weeks for heroin users in outpatient settings. However, each case is an individual matter, and some dependents may take many more months to finish detoxification. It can be due to certain complications that may arise during the detox process (for example, kidney failure) or frequent relapses, bringing them full circle back to the initial stage of detoxification.
How To Manage Withdrawal Symptoms
While going through withdrawal syndrome, you need to make sure that your body gets the necessary nutrients and antioxidants to cope with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, you need to avoid any activities that can trigger anxiety or make your symptoms worse.
Visiting a rehab facility for addiction recovery remains the most effective and safe way to deal with withdrawal. There you will be monitored by medical professionals while undergoing detoxification from alcohol and other drugs. They will help you manage your withdrawal symptoms and prevent complications that may arise during this period.
If you decide on going through the detox process at home, first of all, make sure to consult your doctor on which symptoms to expect and ask for advice on how to treat them properly. You should focus on getting enough sleep, maintain a wholesome diet to support your body, and avoid any possible substance use triggers you are aware of. You can also try relaxation methods such as meditation or yoga to help you cope with stress and anxiety.
Detoxification is a necessary step of any recovery program that allows you to effectively combat the withdrawal symptoms and return to a sober way of life with the minimised possibility of a relapse. You can go through the detox process either in a rehabilitation facility or at home, but it is crucial to understand that medical observation is vital in both cases.
Although inpatient detox treatment is considered to have more chance for success, your determination and willingness to change are key driving forces to get rid of your addiction. Focus on yourself and what you can do today to achieve recovery without alcohol and drugs by your side. Remember that sobriety is a journey towards better health and overall well-being.