There is no quick fix for drug addiction and no easy method to kick the habit. Drug detox and rehab is the only way to deal with this life-destroying problem, but it requires a great deal of support from a medical professional or rehab expert.
What is drug detox?
Drug detox is essentially the managed termination of drug consumption. In clinical terms, drug detoxification is the process whereby the drugs that you have consumed are purged from your body. This is not a pleasant experience, especially if you are a long-term or heavy drug user.
Habitual drug use alters the chemicals in your brain, making the body dependent on your drug of choice and when you stop taking those drugs your body will experience withdrawal symptoms. Physical withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to intense, depending on the duration and seriousness of your addiction to drugs or alcohol and the type of drugs that you take.
What is medical detox?
Many drug addicts attempt to detox by going cold turkey. This can be extremely dangerous and, in most cases, medical detox is a necessary part of a successful treatment plan. When you join an inpatient detox program you will be under constant medical supervision and may receive prescription drugs like Buprenorphine and Naltrexone to reduce the physical withdrawal symptoms.
Many addicts who enter drug detox are addicted to opiates and detoxing cold turkey can have serious side effects and lead to long-term health problems. When you detox from opiates, it is important to be under medical care so that a doctor can prescribe partial opiate agonists (like Buprenorphine) to suppress the debilitating withdrawal symptoms. Tapering off opiates allows you to engage in therapy, counselling and support group sessions and prevent recurring relapses. The minimum inpatient opiate detox takes at least two weeks, with or without medical intervention and prescription drugs, but your detox could take longer, depending on the length and severity of your opiate addiction.
What to expect during drug detox?
There are a number of treatment options available to addicts but drug detox is a challenge even for the most committed patient. Because your body is physically addicted to drugs you can’t just expect to go cold turkey and walk away cured. Drug detox does not work like that and it takes ongoing support from dedicated family members, medical professionals, and treatment facility staff to truly break the habit and live a healthy life. Before you enter a drug detox treatment program it is important to know what to expect. When you know what is going to happen, you will be better prepared to deal with the mental, physical and emotional side effects of withdrawal.
Withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person and will depend on the number and type of drugs that you are addicted to, the severity of your addiction, the existence of co-occurring physical or mental health disorders, the half-life of the drugs you take as well as the level and frequency of your drug use. The most difficult part of drug detox is the first 48 hours or two days. The first symptoms of withdrawal typically take five to ten hours to manifest and this is when the symptoms will be at their worst. If you are an inpatient at a rehab clinic and under medical supervision, you will most likely be given medication to ease the symptoms during this time.
Withdrawal symptoms during drug detox include:
- Depression and anxiety
- Insomnia, fatigue and lethargy
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fevers, chills, shaking and sweating
- Irritability, agitation and mood swings
- Increased heart rate and high blood pressure
- Loss of appetite, gastrointestinal and digestive problems
- Intense Cravings
- Confusion, disorientation and hallucinations
- Muscle weakness or muscle pain
- Bone and joint pain
- Uncontrollable muscle spasms in legs
- Flu-like symptoms, including a runny nose and watering eyes
Certain drugs are only psychologically addictive but other drugs are physically addictive and when you detox there will be no escaping the physical withdrawal symptoms. During drug detox, the treatment facility staff will ensure that all your medical and clinical requirements are met and that your detox is safe and as comfortable as possible. You will be closely monitored and supervised at all times to ensure that your body can cope with the withdrawal symptoms.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health
There is often a direct link between substance abuse and mental health issues. Many people who suffer from mental health problems are more suspectable to addiction and will resort to substance abuse in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms. The detoxification process can be extremely traumatic and may exacerbate any underlying mental health disorders. If you suffer from mental health issues or have a family history of mental health disorders, it is essential to inform the rehab facility before you begin your treatment so that they can take the necessary steps to factor this into your drug detox treatment plan.
Drug Detox Treatment Options
There are a number of inpatient and outpatient detox options available to help you kick your habit. During inpatient detox, you will live in a rehab clinic and receive round the clock supervision, support and medical care. If you choose outpatient detox, you will be treated at home but this is often not as effective as inpatient treatment because you are not removed from the environment that has enabled your drug abuse and you will still be surrounded by the usual triggers and temptations. Medically assisted detox is also not possible as an outpatient because you need to be under constant medical supervision during this time. Relapsing is more common with people who choose the outpatient detox option and your chances of success are far higher when you take part in a residential or inpatient drug detox treatment program.
Drug detox is the first step on your road to recovery
At the Rehab Clinics Group, we recognise that drug detox on its own is not enough to ensure long-term recovery. A drug detoxification treatment plan is designed to treat your physical symptoms, but you will also need counselling and therapy to break your habit. Contact us today so that we can support you on your road to recovery.