The first step on the road to recovery from substance addiction is admitting that you have a problem. This is often the biggest hurdle that addicts face as many are in denial about their problems. You may be aware that you are drinking more than usual, for example, but in your eyes that does not make you an alcoholic – after all, you are still going to work most days and are still providing for your family.
Many people are afraid to admit that they have a problem because this means they may have to quit drinking or taking drugs and will be expected to seek help. Some are afraid of what sober life will be like. So actually admitting that you have a problem takes courage.
If you have taken that first step, your next step is to get rid of drugs or alcohol from your body, and this is typically done through a process known as addiction detox.
As mentioned above, detox is the process of getting rid of alcohol or drugs from your body. However, even if you could, it would be dangerous to simply stop taking drugs or alcohol without medical supervision. It is, therefore, vital that you seek professional help if you have decided that you want to quit abusing a particular substance.
The type of substance you have been using and the length of time you have been addicted will play a role in whether or not you are advised to detox in a supervised facility or not. Nevertheless, even if you are given the go-ahead to detox at home, you will need to have someone with you throughout the process to ensure your safety.
What to Expect from Detox
Before you begin a programme of detox, you need to be fully aware that this is the first step towards moving into addiction recovery. It is not the same as treatment, and just because you complete a programme of detox, does not mean you are recovered.
Detox eliminates drugs or alcohol from your system (the physical component of addiction), but you will need to complete a programme of rehabilitation to help you to learn how to live without these chemical substances (the psychological component).
During detox, you may experience withdrawal symptoms as your body tries to adapt to life without drugs or alcohol. When you first started taking drugs or alcohol, your body and mind tried to compensate for the effects these substances had. So upon stopping taking them, your body will need to readjust and try to normalise. This can result in a number of side effects including shaking, mood swings, sweating, paranoia, and hallucinations.
Getting Through Detox
Detox can be very unpleasant, and you are likely to experience some withdrawal symptoms that may make you feel unwell. Nonetheless, these withdrawal symptoms will subside, and you will start to feel better.
It is important, therefore, that you do not detox alone. Some of the withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening if you suffer delirium tremens, (DTs). It is impossible to know who will experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms, so supervision is always necessary, whether you are detoxing in a facility or at home.
The good thing about detoxing in a medical facility is that professional staff will be on hand, meaning that they can react to dangerous or life-threatening situations. They will have experience and knowledge of how to deal with severe symptoms, so you will be in safe hands. You also have the benefit of being able to access medications and treatments that could make the process easier and more comfortable.
Once you have completed your programme of detox, you will be in a much better position to begin a regimen of rehabilitation. This may involve a residential programme or a series of outpatient appointments combined with a fellowship support programme.