The first part of addiction treatment is often detoxification, or as it is simply called, “detox”. This is the process of actually allowing your body to process and clear out any drugs and alcohol in your system. The goal is to get completely sober and not allow any new toxic substances to enter your system. Your body’s cravings for drugs and/or alcohol will subside, and you will be able to move forward into a healthy, refreshed life without drug abuse. In a nutshell, detox is the first key step towards long-term sobriety.
How Does Detox Work?
Upon checking into an addiction treatment program, the time of the detoxification process starting will depend both on the substance being abused and the severity of addiction. For heavy users of heroin or crystal meth, for example, detox may begin within just a few hours of the last use. For lighter abusers of prescription pills or alcohol, it may take longer for the body to start entering the detoxification process. The amount of time detox takes depends on the person and their addiction.
During detox, your body will go through withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal can be difficult to deal with, but it is important to remember that they are temporary. The exact withdrawal symptoms you may experience will vary for everyone, but they can include:
- Fever-like symptoms
- Physical discomfort and sometimes pain
- Mood swings (violent outbursts may occur)
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feelings of anxiety and/or depression
Detox can feel unpleasant, but you will be put in a comfortable place to rest and try to stay as relaxed as possible. It is also important to stay hydrated during this time. When you do eat, it will be simple, healthy foods that will not interfere with the body’s ability to flush out toxins. Occasionally, medication is used to help ease physical symptoms of withdrawal and make the process smoother.
The detox process is considered complete once you are no longer experiencing symptoms of withdrawal. But that doesn’t mean that treatment is complete. Instead, it means that actual addiction recovery can begin.
Why You Should Never Detox Alone
Very few people are able to successfully detox alone (much less manage to overcome addiction all on their own), and there’s a reason for that. Not only is the road to sobriety full of challenges, but detox itself can actually be dangerous without professional supervision. This is especially true for those with benzodiazepine or alcohol addictions, as the associated withdrawal symptoms can be more severe. If left unattended, some of these symptoms may result in permanent damage or, in extreme cases, death.
At a rehab center, your withdrawal symptoms will be addressed and handled in the order of their severity. Experienced medical staff members can intervene when needed and make sure that your detox is going safely.
Even if you do not consider your addiction to be that intense, the truth is that you are far more likely to make it through detox with professional supervision than on your own at home. On your own, it is often all too tempting to quickly ease your discomfort by using again. This is prevented at a rehab facility or, at the very least, with professionals checking in on you regularly.
What Comes After Detox?
Once you successfully complete detoxification, you are ready for the real change to begin. Your addiction treatment will be tailored to meet your specific needs, and it may include a combination of counseling, classes, exercise, re-building relationships with loved ones, etc.
Many people view addiction recovery as a life-long practice of making healthy choices and finding happiness in things not tied to drug abuse. You will make your own decisions about your future, but it’s wise to wait until after you get through detox to think more clearly about what you want out of life.
Where Can I Go Through Detox?
Depending on your type of substance abuse, its severity, and your location may have quite a few addiction treatment options available to you. For those in Southern California, our team at Lake Arrowhead Recovery Resource is here to help you navigate this sometimes confusing world. We will examine your situation and your specific needs in a detox program, and we will use that information to pair you up with appropriate treatment options. We provide comprehensive treatment matching services that encompass everything from admissions and insurance verification to transportation assistance. And because we also provide care management, you can rest assured that you will not be alone throughout the detox process and your stay in treatment.