Detoxing is always the very first step in the recovery process. Whether you’re battling substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder, there’s absolutely no way to get started without it. Unfortunately, it’s also the most challenging and intimidating stage of recovery. Also referred to as withdrawal, detoxing is often fraught with painful and unpleasant physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. These can include shaking, sweating, nausea, and vomiting, but they can also entail severe depression, suicidal thoughts, overwhelming anxiety, and lack of focus among many other things. Given the potential intensity of withdrawal symptoms, detoxing with support is always advised.
One of the key characteristics of addiction is denial. Many addicts feel as though they’re totally in control. They often believe that they have the power to stop using whenever they want or to limit how much drugs or alcohol they ingest. Citing the merits of willpower alone, it’s not uncommon for addicts to attempt to wean themselves off of drugs or alcohol by using less often, cutting their doses, or diluting the concentrations of their preferred substances. Absent of medical guidance, these efforts are destined to fail. Without a safe and successful detox plan in place, any attempt at long-term recovery is destined to fail too.
Why Detox Cannot Be Avoided
There are very few requirements that people attending drug rehab must meet. Whether you choose to take part in an inpatient program or an outpatient program, most facilities will take you just as you are. They know that newly recovering addicts are often starting over from what feels like their lowest point. Many people entering rehab are facing major personal and professional issues including:
- Job loss
- Housing loss
- The loss of important family relationships
- Legal issues
- Health issues
However, the one hard rule that rehab centers maintain is that patients cannot engage in recreational drug use on their campuses. This is done to ensure the safety of everyone present and to prevent all patients from being exposed to unnecessary temptations and stress. Thus, when you make a commitment to receive professional addiction treatment, you’re also making a commitment to detoxing.
It’s also important to note that the brain and body cannot begin to heal from the ravages of substance abuse until a person stops using. Heavy drug and alcohol use alter the brain’s chemistry and completely change how the brain functions. These changes are largely what make early recovery so hard. To reverse them, you have to stop the very behaviors that are responsible for them.
The good news is that detoxing can mean many different things. If you’ve tried detoxing on your own or by going “cold turkey” you likely think of detoxing as a prolonged and entirely miserable period of abstaining while your body sends out intense signals of distress. In reality, however, detoxing doesn’t actually have to be this way. When you receive medically assisted detox services, you’ll have an individualized and multi-pronged detox plan that’s designed to make this process as safe, comfortable, and easy as it can possibly be. In fact, many medical and mental health interventions that are used as part of medically assisted detox can also make the withdrawal process shorter as well.
When devising your personal detox plan, rehab professionals will consider factors such as:
- The length of your addiction history
- Co-occurring mental health issues
- Your general health
- Your age
- The type and amount of substances you’ve been using
With this and other information, your providers will decide whether you’re best-suited to medically supported abstinence, a structured weaning program, or a combination of evidence-based withdrawal medications.
Why Medically Supported Detox Is Strongly Recommended
Among some of the surest signs of addiction are obsessive drug-seeking behaviors and uncontrollable urges to use. Thus, when addicts think of detoxing they often assume that the greatest source of their discomfort will be cravings. Although cravings can be incredibly intense while detoxing, there are far more pressing withdrawal symptoms that most people will experience. With certain substances, sudden abstinence can prove life-threatening if early withdrawal symptoms are not properly mitigated right away.
Common withdrawal symptoms include rapid temperature changes, changes in coordination, balance, and focus, digestive upset, headaches, and other like developments. Severe withdrawal symptoms can include seizures, coma, and even death. Medically assisted detox is structured to prevent advanced, late-stage withdrawal symptoms from ever manifesting. With the right help, the brain and body are gently eased back into normal, substance-free functioning, and without the risk of permanent or potentially fatal injuries.
If you’re ready to start the recovery process, we can help with the first and most important step. You don’t have to tackle this Herculean task on your own. To find out more about rehab and your options in medically supported detox, call us today at 833.970.2054.