Detox Fear and Misinformation
Detox Does Not Have to Induce Fear
Detox does not have to be scary, and in fact, it is best if we don’t even give fear a place in our minds. If a friend or someone on an internet message board starts talking about their detox horror story, stop listening. Fill your mind instead with messages of hope and success. After all, detox is the start of the hope for a new life. It is the first step toward sobriety, and because it is something you have to do to enjoy the rest of your life, it’s best to go into it with a positive attitude.
Detox might be uncomfortable for some, but it is manageable. Recent years have brought about the development of many medications that can help with detox side effects, relieve pain, and even speed up the withdrawal process. If you choose the right kind of facility for your detox needs, you have nothing to worry about. Your treatment staff will take good care of you and keep you comfortable.
Opiates should always be used under the care of a physician, and are best used for short periods of time. When taken for a long period of time or in greater amounts than recommended the body becomes dependent on the substance. If this happens, the individual must go through withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug.
Early Stages of Withdrawal
Opiate withdrawal differs from drug to drug and person to person, but in general, the most difficult period of detox lasts from five to seven days. During this early stage of withdrawal, the patient will experience symptoms that feel like a bad case of the flu.
Physical symptoms of opiate detox may include:
A person may also experience psychological symptoms, including:
Late Stages of Withdrawal
Later stages of opiate withdrawal are much more tolerable but can last a few weeks to a few months. The name for this later withdrawal stage is Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (P.A.W.S.).
Physical symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome include:
A person may also experience psychological symptoms, including:
Is it Dangerous to Detox at Home?
Some people want to detox from opiates at home, but detox at a trusted facility is a much better option. The symptoms of opiate withdrawal mirror those of the flu and are generally not dangerous. However, if a person becomes dehydrated and weak, or experiences complications such as irregular heartbeat, their condition can deteriorate quickly and they might need medical attention. Those who try to detox at home are also more likely to give up and start using again because they feel alone and don’t receive encouragement and help from professional staff who can help motivate and aid in their
Common Detox Treatments
There are several different types of detox for opioids, and the one you choose will depend on your individual needs. One of the most popular types of opiate detox is medical detox. This is when the individual enters a hospital or hospital-like setting for the withdrawal process. The person will be monitored closely by doctors, nurses, and treatment staff, and given supportive care such as fluids and medication when necessary. When a person withdraws from opiate painkillers or heroin, their body begins to react with pain, nausea, muscle aches, and shakes. The person might develop diarrhea or vomiting and at this time. If the person wants it, medication can be given that relieves nausea, manages pain, and makes the person more comfortable. During medical detox, the individual will be surrounded by treatment professionals as well, who will provide encouragement and motivation for the person to keep working through the challenges and not give up.
The other popular type of opiate detox is supervised detox. This is when the recovering addict enrolls in a rehab facility to be monitored by staff around the clock as they detox. The individual will still have access to medication to manage their symptoms and will be encouraged and supported by staff to continue on in their sobriety. The symptoms of opiate detox usually only last 3 to 5 days and most symptoms are completely resolved by about a week, after which time there will be some less intense side effects for a few weeks or months. It all depends on the person’s physical and emotional makeup and their history.
Finally, some people try to detox from opiates at home on their own. While the side effects of opiate detox are not life-threatening, trying to go through withdrawal on one’s own can be unsafe if the person becomes too weak and dehydrated, in which case they would need fluids and supportive care. The other problem with home detox is that it takes away the person’s opportunity to receive encouragement when they feel like quitting. The staff of a detox program should not be underestimated because most people benefit greatly from interactions with encouraging staff during and after detox.
Selecting a Good Detox Program
When selecting a detox program, do your research and find the one that will meet your needs. If you are worried about detox and want extra support available in case you need it, including medication to manage pain and discomfort, look for a medical detox program. If you want to take a more natural approach, look for a program that makes use of other options for symptom relief, such as meditation, yoga, or massage therapy. Characteristics of a good detox program include experienced staff, licensed programming, safety checks in place, and a philosophy you can trust. The staff members can make or break a detox program, and by working with people you can trust, who are able to motivate you, and who can help you get to the heart of your addiction are going provide you with the best chance at success. If possible, meet with treatment staff ahead of time, so you can see if the center is a good fit for you.
Some people try to settle for detox programs that aren’t right for them. When this happens, it is very difficult for the person to succeed. Most likely, they will begin detox but will quit as soon as things get difficult or cravings start. Without the right encouragement and motivation, the recovering addict can easily become frustrated and give up. But with caring and compassionate staff who know how to work with those going through detox, this phase of recovery can pave the way for the rest of the individual’s recovery.
Detox is Only the Beginning
Of course, while detox is a step toward sobriety, it is only the first step. Those who successfully cleanse their body from opioids still have work ahead of them. If a person would go back to their life as soon as detox is over without going through rehab and therapy, their chances of relapsing are high. This is because detox only helps the person heal physically from their addiction. Emotional and spiritual healing are also necessary components to recovery. As the person participates in therapy, they learn how to deal with past experiences that have contributed to addiction, with improper thought patterns, and with cravings to use. The weeks and months after detox help lay the foundation for long-term success. With the right kind of help, an individual can transition smoothly from detox to rehab, so that they can continue their healing and achieve their goals for recovery.