Drug and alcohol withdrawal can be a miserable and potentially dangerous experience, and it often becomes worse before it gets better. In order to ensure safety.
Drug and alcohol withdrawal can be a miserable and potentially dangerous experience, and it often becomes worse before it gets better. In order to ensure safety, the addict will likely need to be monitored by professionals. Even when the detox is not dangerous, the addict can still benefit greatly from seeking professional care, especially at the beginning of his or her recovery.
When addicts first stop ingesting the substance or substances that they are addicted to, their brains become temporarily hyperactive. This occurs as the substance is being filtered out and removed by the organs of the body. Symptoms during this phase can include irritability, anxiety, shaking, seizures and a wave of obsessive thoughts about the drug of choice. Sometimes addicts will convince themselves that their symptoms will subside if they use the substance one more time.
Sadly, many addicts never make it past phase one. The desire to return to the substance can be too overwhelming. Statistics have shown that people who are on their second or third attempt to quit are more likely to have a hard time sticking to it then those who are on their first steps toward recovery. For this reason, it is a good idea to invest in a quality rehabilitation facility for yourself or your loved one the first time around, rather than waiting until the addiction has reached the point of becoming a life or death situation.
During the second phase, the withdrawal begins to deepen and the addict becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Huge changes are occurring within the body due to the lack of the substance, and without proper medical supervision, a coma may occur. It is important that the addict be given plenty of fluids and proper nutrition to help their bodies adjust. This is especially true for those recovering from alcoholism. Alcoholics who try to stop drinking without proper medical help may end up dying.
At some point during the second phase, the unpleasant symptoms peak and then begin to decline.
The third and final phase of detox is in some ways the hardest. The addict is now physically stabilized without the substance he or she was addicted to. However, all of the thoughts, doubt and emotions that led up to the original decision to use drugs are still there, and the addict no longer has a crutch to numb the pain. This is the point in recovery where counseling becomes crucial. Every addict has a different story, and it will likely take years of work to figure out the roots of their addictions. Sometimes there is a clear reason, such as an alcoholic father or a history of sexual abuse. Other times, the reasons are deeper and much more complicated.
Only 20 percent of addicts ever recover fully and go on to lead completely substance-free lives. A large percentage of that group will relapse at least once. However, the situation isn’t hopeless. With a supportive network of friends and family and time spent at a quality inpatient rehabilitation center, there is still a great chance of success. Statistics are only statistics, and individuals are as capable as they believe themselves to be.
Paige Taylor is a freelance health writer from Michigan.