Drug detox breaks your physical dependence on drugs through abstinence and is the first step in overcoming an addiction. Recovery Lighthouse aims to support you through this process, help you to manage any withdrawal symptoms and set you up for a successful recovery. Drug detox is a challenging yet transformative experience that lays a strong foundation as you continue your journey to sobriety.
What is drug detox?
Drug detox is a naturally occurring process that the body goes through when you stop taking substances. Toxins that have accumulated from drug abuse are expelled from the bodily systems, and thus physical healing starts.
The primary goals of drug detox are to:
- Overcome the physical harm caused by substances
- Manage accompanying withdrawal symptoms
- Break the cycle of drug abuse
Why do I get withdrawal symptoms?
Drugs interfere with chemical messengers in the brain called neurotransmitters. Depending on the substance, levels of dopamine, serotonin or gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) will fluctuate with drug use. This is what leads to the pleasurable effects associated with drugs and is what leads to physical dependency with regular use.
Physical dependency occurs when the brain has become reliant on drugs to fuel its levels of neurotransmitters. When you stop taking drugs, there will be a resulting deficit of neurotransmitters and your brain will have to readjust. This is what causes withdrawal symptoms.
The withdrawal symptoms you experience will depend on the substance you have been using, but some common symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances
- Excessive sweating
- Shaking or shivering
- Muscle aches and pains
- Depression and anxiety
- Irritability and mood swings
- Intense cravings
It is these withdrawal symptoms that make it incredibly tough to quit. The pull to use again in order to quell your withdrawal symptoms will be strong, which is why it is so important to seek professional guidance.
What happens during drug detox?
Your drug detox journey will begin with an initial assessment to determine your state of health and make predictions on what to expect from the withdrawal period. Our doctors will advise on the best way to detox from drugs, whether it be by a tapering schedule or cold-turkey, and come up with a plan to suit your individual needs.
Our team will monitor your condition each day and provide you with necessary medications to help you manage any withdrawal symptoms. With us, you can relax knowing that you are in safe hands, allowing you to fully focus on getting better.
The severity of your withdrawal symptoms and the length of the detox process will vary depending on the substances that have been abused, the duration and frequency of abuse and your overall health. Typically we expect to see withdrawal symptoms peak within the first few days, gradually subsiding over the course of two weeks.
Can I detox from drugs at home?
Detoxing from drugs in the comfort of your own home may sound appealing; however, it is not advised. Drug detox can be unpredictable, dangerous and even life-threatening in some cases, leading to severe health complications if not managed properly. As an example, benzodiazepine withdrawal can result in hallucinations, panic and seizures, and requires careful tapering so as to avoid serious side effects.
As well as the risk of complications to your health, the possibility of relapse is high when detoxing at home. As withdrawal sets in and cravings intensify, it is all too easy to reach for your drug of choice and start using again. This can be dangerous as your body will no longer be able to tolerate the doses it was once used to, making overdose more likely. Attending an assisted drug detox at an inpatient facility removes the temptation to use and ensures your withdrawal symptoms remain under control.
Common fears about drug detox
The process of drug detox can feel intimidating and nerve-wracking, especially if you do not know what to expect from your detox period. It is totally normal to feel anxious before starting your recovery, but you should not let these fears hold you back from getting the help you need.
Some common fears about drug detox include:
Fear of physical discomfort…
Withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, but it is important to keep in mind that the worst of them will subside in just a few days. You can ensure a positive drug detox by choosing a facility that puts your safety and comfort first, with experienced medical staff who will guide you every step of the way.
Fear of failure…
Many individuals fear that they will not be able to complete the drug detox process and this prevents them from trying entirely. However, without trying, you will be trapped in a downward spiral of drug abuse – the sooner you attempt drug detox, the sooner you can get your life back.
Fear of the unknown…
If you have never been through a drug detox, the unknown can be a source of fear and anxiety. Not knowing what to expect can make the process seem overwhelming, however, you can conquer this fear with knowledge. By learning about drug detox and withdrawal, you can be better equipped to deal with your own detox journey.
Fear of judgement…
You might be worried about judgement from friends, family or colleagues when you tell them you are about to embark on drug detox. It is important to remember that seeking treatment is a brave step that should be applauded – there is no shame in reaching out for help if you need it.
Does drug detox cure my addiction?
Drug detox helps to support physical healing, but this is only one aspect of addiction. In order for recovery to be successful, you must address the underlying psychological and emotional causes of your drug use.
Recovery Lighthouse helps you to pinpoint the complex issues that propel you to use drugs and find healthier ways of coping. This is done through a combination of effective therapies, including:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT)
- 12-step therapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- Mindfulness-based therapy
- Music, drama and art therapy
Recovery from drugs requires ongoing work and dedication, even after detox and rehab have been completed. For many, this is a life-long battle. Unfortunately there is no “cure” for substance use disorders. However, with the right tools and support, you can remain in successful recovery and achieve your goals.
Let’s get started
Drug detox is only the first step in your recovery, but it is one that comes with many benefits. While the process may be challenging, you will be rewarded with a renewed sense of self, improved mental clarity and replenished energy. As you work towards a healthier version of yourself, you will hopefully be able to enjoy great pride in accomplishing drug detox, knowing that you are taking the necessary steps to build a brighter future.
If you have any questions about drug detox, or if you would like to begin your recovery, don’t hesitate to give our friendly team a call.