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Drug Detox

Drug Detox

An addiction to drugs can impact every aspect of life, from relationships to finances and beyond. Many people find the lifestyle that comes with addiction to be intolerable and wish to enter recovery, with the first step involving a complete physical detox.

Detoxification is the initial phase of recovery, during which the body is cleansed of all addictive substances. As the body has learned to function despite the presence of these substances, drug detox can result in a number of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that can last for weeks or even months after the treatment has ended. [1]

Which drugs can OK Rehab help me to detox from?

Many of our team know from experience how intimidating it can be to take that first step towards detoxification and recovery, and we’re here to make the process more comfortable and accessible for you.

We can assist you in detoxing from almost any drug you can think of, all within a professional medical setting. If you wish to continue your treatment we are also available to guide you towards counselling and aftercare options that suit your lifestyle and budget.

Below are just a few examples of the types of drugs that you can detox from with the help of OK Rehab:

  • Cocaine
  • Crack cocaine
  • Codeine
  • Heroin
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Cannabis
  • Crystal meth
  • Ecstacy
  • Ketamine
  • Prescription painkillers
  • Sleeping pills
  • Xanax
  • Ambien
  • Nicotine
  • Valium
  • Tramadol

If you are planning to detox from a substance that is not listed on our website, get in touch today and we will be happy to talk you through the process and available options.

How will I feel during a drug detox?

Detoxing from an addictive substance can be an uncomfortable experience with the potential for a number of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms to manifest during the process. While these symptoms may be unpleasant in the moment, the good news is that they are only temporary. In a medical setting, these symptoms may also be controlled with medication.

There is no method to accurately predict how an individual will react to a drug detox – some will only experience mild symptoms while others may go through severe and potentially life-threatening withdrawal.

However, it has been determined that the intensity of these withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on a number of factors:

  • The length and severity of the addiction
  • The regular dosage of the substance
  • Any underlying physical or mental health disorders
  • The type of substance involved
  • Past experience of withdrawal symptoms
  • Any co-occurring addictions
  • Age, gender, and general health

Why do withdrawal symptoms occur during a drug detox?

The brain and body are extremely adaptable, continuing to function despite the detrimental effects of certain drugs. Over time they can become used to functioning in this new way and may struggle to rebalance once the substances are no longer being ingested.

As an example, diazepam has a sedative effect which requires the body to work harder in order to keep the respiratory system functioning. Once the diazepam is removed from the system the body will continue to work at the same increased pace despite having no need to, which can result in a number of withdrawal symptoms including an irregular or fast heartbeat and even seizures.

Certain drugs can also cause physical changes in the brain, affecting the way we process emotions and certain sensations. Heroin has the ability to mimic endorphins, encouraging the brain to release high amounts of serotonin which can have a euphoric and relaxing effect. If an individual regularly ingests this substance over a period of time, eventually the body will have trouble producing serotonin without the help of heroin.

As a result, recovering heroin addicts may suffer from feelings of depression and anxiety as part of the withdrawal process as their brain works to rebalance and begin the natural production of serotonin.

Which withdrawal symptoms will I experience?

Although many of the most addictive substances affect the body in different ways, the withdrawal symptoms experienced during the detoxification process share many similarities.

It is important to keep in mind that not everyone will experience these symptoms, and you will likely not experience each one of them during the recovery process.

Common physical withdrawal symptoms during a drug detox include:

  • Flu-like symptoms including fever, muscle aches and body chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Shaking and trembling
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Severe headaches
  • Sleep disturbances including insomnia and nightmares
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Seizures
  • Gastrointestinal issues include diarrhoea and stomach cramps

Common psychological withdrawal symptoms during a drug detox include:

  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Feeling irritable and agitated
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Visual, tactile and auditory hallucinations

In many cases, the risk of encountering more severe symptoms of withdrawal such as seizures and hallucinations is high enough that detoxification should only be attempted in a medical setting under the care of an experienced professional.

Can you die from withdrawal symptoms during a drug detox?

The risk of death during the drug detoxification process is low when the treatment is medically assisted and the patient is closely monitored. However, attempting to detox from certain substances at home can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms that in some cases can result in death.

Within a treatment programme or rehabilitation centre, the process of detoxification involves slowing tapering off the dosage of the drug over a period of time. It is not recommended to stop taking most substances cold turkey, as this can accelerate the withdrawal process and cause severe symptoms.

The body can also build up a tolerance to many drugs, requiring more frequent ingestion and higher dosage in order to experience the same effects. This tolerance is quickly lowered when an individual begins the detoxification process, leading to a higher risk of overdose in the event of a relapse. A drug-induced overdose can be fatal if not treated promptly.

While it is possible to undergo the detoxification process at home, it is not recommended to do so without medical guidance and supervision due to the reasons listed above. [2]

How does a drug detox work?

Deciding to undergo a drug detox can feel intimidating, and this article aims to provide a better understanding of the process which can allow you to make an informed decision about your own recovery.

Before the detoxification can begin, a doctor will perform an assessment in order to gain an insight into the severity of the addiction. They may perform blood tests and ask a series of questions about your drug use and medical history which must be answered honestly as this can help to predict the intensity of any potential withdrawal symptoms.

Once this is complete, they will create a personalised treatment plan which will usually involve a tapering-off schedule – this will allow you to slowly decrease your dosage of the substance, alleviating many of the more severe withdrawal symptoms.

The first two days are usually the most difficult, with symptoms and cravings often peaking around this point. It is important to remember that the process of detoxification is not linear, and mild symptoms can often get worse very quickly.

Can I take medication to help me through the drug detox process?

Many of the more uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can be managed and often alleviated with the use of medication throughout the detoxification process.

Certain antidepressants are commonly prescribed during recovery from a drug addiction, and an opioid addiction is often treated with opioid agonists and antagonists within a medical setting. [2]

Some of the most common medications used throughout a drug detox include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Methadone
  • Lofexidine
  • Clonidine
  • Buprenorphine
  • Clonazepam
  • Bupropion
  • Mirtazapine

The above medications should only be prescribed by a medical professional, and it is not advised to self-medicate during recovery as this can lead to cross-addiction.

How long does a drug detox take?

The length of the detoxification process can vary according to the severity of the addiction and the type of substance involved.

A professional detoxification programme will generally last for a maximum of two weeks, although patients are also advised to complete the psychological treatment phase once the physical detox is complete.

The physical withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and flu-like symptoms will often dissipate within 10 days, while the psychological effects can reoccur for months after the initial detoxification phase is complete.

It is important to continue treatment until you are both physically and psychologically ready to continue with your daily life, navigating triggering situations and avoiding relapse.

What are the next steps after drug detox?

Successfully completing the detoxification process is a huge achievement, and it’s important to continue this trajectory by taking the next step towards recovery.

While you may no longer physically require drugs in order to function, the psychological cravings may still be present along with the factors that lead to the addiction in the first place. These must be addressed as part of the recovery process in order to prevent relapse and achieve long-term recovery.

Counselling is an effective way to tackle the detrimental behaviours and mindset that may have contributed to the development of a drug addiction, as well as exploring past experiences and subconscious self-talk that can lead to these behaviours. This can involve individual or group therapy as well as complementary holistic practices such as mindfulness and nutritional therapy.

An effective and well-managed aftercare plan is essential once the treatment programme is over, providing tools and strategies that allow you to successfully navigate life in recovery. This may include regular NA or 12 Step meetings, ongoing counselling and tips on resisting triggers and building up a strong support system.

References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64119/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64116/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4014033/

 

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