Pharmacologic therapies are utilized in drug detox to prevent life-threatening withdrawal complications such as seizures, delirium tremens, heart attacks and suicidal ideation. Medical detox also increases compliance with psychosocial forms of addiction treatment in rehab. Medication management of withdrawal symptoms and recovery is based on the type, duration, timing and dosage of abused drugs as well as an individual’s overall health. People who choose to detox “cold turkey” on their own without medically assisted detox often suffer unimaginable physical and psychological pain and many relapse due to extreme withdrawal symptoms.1
Withdrawal is an uncomfortable process, and it can sometimes take days for your body to do a thorough drug detox and for cravings to cease. If it were quick and painless to quit drugs, very few people would have addictions. Instead, drug detox, withdrawal and cravings hold people back.
Detoxification, or detox, is one of the most difficult aspects of addiction treatment. Detox starts right after the last time you use drugs and is not over until the drug has been completely eliminated from your body. When you have been supplying your body with drugs for a long period of time and then stop using, withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Understand what detox is like, what your options are, and make sure you have medical assistance for this challenging but crucial part of getting sober.
The following story comes directly from a person in recovery and a The Right Step alumnus. For his privacy, we have removed all references to his name. However, we hope that this story will inspire others who are addicted and their loved ones to seek out recovery programs like The Right Step’s to learn how to live life sober.
To read the first part of this story, please click here.
My previous treatment center experience in 2001 was not a good one. This one [at The Right Step] was refreshing from the moment I stepped onto the property. There was humor, love, and a feeling of serenity like I had never experienced.
I spent five days in detox, where the nurses continually assured me that I was going to be okay. I emerged from detoxification and checked into the residential program, which began a 30-day journey full of laughter, tears, structure, balance, insight, solution, reflection and, most importantly, hope.
If this isn’t the first time you’ve considered helping a loved one treat an addiction problem, odds are good that you’ve seen information on the Internet about attempting to go through alcohol detoxification without the supervision of a doctor. While it is true that some people are able to go through the process safely, we cannot stress enough that alcohol detoxification can be deadly without medical supervision, and a trip to the ER may not be fast enough to save a life if something goes wrong. Here are some of the risks taken those who attempt alcohol withdrawal without medical help:
– Hallucinations leading to injuries or accidents
– Lethal dehydration
– Heart attack
Doc Talk: All About Detoxification
By: Dr. Jason Powers
Title: Chief Medical Officer, The Right Step and Spirit Lodge
Info: Among the first doctors certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM). H Magazine Texas’ “Top Doc” in Addiction Medicine, 2007-2009. 2008 winner of Sierra Tucson’s Gratitude for Giving, Compassion Award.
Dr. Powers, The Right Step Chief Medical Officer, has worked in addiction recovery for eight years and has helped The Right Step’s inpatient detoxification program reach out to, and reform, hundreds of addicts over the years. We asked him to share some information on detoxification for addiction victims and their loved ones.