Part of any treatment for drug addiction is detoxicating the body. The process of detoxification happens when a person’s body releases toxins that have build up through the use of drugs or alcohol. The type of drugs that were used and the length of time that the person was addicted, as well as the level of addiction are serious factors that must be considered when predicting the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
When someone who has an addiction is ready to begin the process of recovering, they have to begin the process of learning to live without drugs. This process can take a significant toll on a person’s mind and body. It can take weeks or months to complete the process of learning to live without the substance that their life was surrounded by.
The early stages that of this process are crucial to the potential of recovery. Unless a person is drug free, it can be difficult for them to understand the effects that drugs have had on their life. Drugs can alter the mind and limit self-awareness as well as problem-solving. Because of this, it is essential that the person be drug free when they begin treatment.
The first few hours after using drugs for the last time, the person with an addiction will become irritated because the “high” has worn off. The person with an addiction will immediately begin to think of how they can get their hands on more drugs.
If the person who is addicted does obtain drugs, they will most likely not progress any further in the detox process. A commitment to recovery and a strong support system are essential to the process of detoxification. Without access to more drugs the person with the addiction will experience the first signs of withdraw, which may include:
These are the starting symptoms and the person facing the addiction should expect these symptoms to get worse, and others to appear as the process goes on.
Some withdraw symptoms do not begin until several hours after the detox process begins. The body and brain have developed a tolerance to the drugs and the brain expects the drugs to perform vital functions. This is because the brain does not remember how to function without the drugs being present.
The neurotransmitters in the brain are expecting the drugs to perform synapse operations that it would naturally control on its own. Because of this, the body and brain will become ill as they begin to adjust to life without drugs.
Withdraw symptoms progress beyond the early stages and into the intermediate stages. Depending on the level of addiction, this stage can last from days to weeks. The symptoms of intermediate detoxification include:
- Intense Cravings
- Desperation to obtain drug of choice
- High or low blood pressure
- Aches and pains in bones or joints
The intermediate phase of detoxification is the most intense. After this stage, the person suffering from addiction will begin to be relieved of the worst symptoms and they will begin to stabilize again.
After the most painful symptoms have faded, the person recovering from the addiction ill feel better. They may experience trembling for a few weeks, and the cravings will become less overwhelming. While the cravings are less overwhelming, they can continue for months or even years.
The person recovering from addiction will feel healthier and more normal. They will develop an increased appetite, since there body may have been starved of essential nutrients. At this point in the detox process, the recovering addict becomes more dedicated to treatment.
Every person’s detoxification and recovery process is unique to themselves and no two people face the battle in the exact same way. It is important that each individual willingly chooses a healthy life over continuing drug use. It is also important to remind them at every step of the rough and winding road, that while it is physically and mentally tough, it is possible to overcome addiction and that there is a better life on the other side of treatment.