To understand how drug detox works, it is important to consider why it is necessary and who might need one. But before this, it might be a good idea to have a closer look at drug addiction, what it is and how it develops. This article will explain a bit more about drug addiction before looking at how drug detox is used to break the physical addiction.
What is Drug Addiction?
Many people assume that drug addiction is something to happens to those with no willpower while others believe that addicts only have themselves to blame for their situation. After all, if they hadn’t started using drugs in the first place, they wouldn’t have a problem, right? But what about those who are addicted to prescription drugs that they took on the advice of a doctor? Are they also to blame for their situation?
The idea that drug addiction is an illness of the brain can be difficult for some people to get their head around, but that is exactly what it is. Those who have a drug addiction are no more to blame for their illness than those with other illnesses are for their situations.
Addiction is classed as a pattern of behaviour that causes negative consequences for the individual. So, if your drug use is interfering with daily life, it is likely that you have a problem that requires help. Overcoming a drug addiction alone is a tough task and although some do manage it, most will need the help of counsellors and therapists using various techniques to help them manage the psychological and emotional issues that caused the addiction in the first place. But before even getting to this stage, it will be necessary to complete a drug detox.
How Does Drug Addiction Develop?
Drug use does not guarantee that an addiction will develop. There are those who manage to use drugs recreationally without going on to suffer addiction, and there are those who can take prescription drugs safely for a short period before stopping again.
That being said, there are some individuals who will find that drug use begins to consume their life. There is no single cause for this and there is no way to know for sure why one person will develop an addiction while another will not.
What we do know is that drugs can change the structure of the brain in some people. Continued regular use of certain chemicals can lead to structural changes in certain parts of the brain, which can affect decision making and good judgement.
Before drug addiction takes hold, a tolerance for the drug usually develops. An increased tolerance to drugs means that the affected individual needs to take more of the substance to achieve the feelings that he or she desires. However, increasing drug consumption can lead the body to adapt to their presence, which can then lead to cravings whenever the effects wear off.
It is easy for those who have little to no experience of these things to tell addicts to stop taking drugs to solve their problem, but unfortunately, it does not work this way. Once addiction has developed, the individual has absolutely no control over his or her drug use. The need to use drugs consumes the addicted person, and even when it will cause negative consequences, he or she is powerless to resist.
Who Needs a Drug Detox?
Not everyone with an addiction to drugs will require a drug detox. There are some drugs that do not cause a physical dependence, only a psychological one; cannabis is an example. Nevertheless, in most cases of drug addiction, a physical and a psychological addiction will need to be treated.
With a physical addiction, various withdrawal symptoms will occur whenever the individual needs the drug. These symptoms can include vomiting, shaking, sweating, mood swings, nausea, and headaches. Until the individual has the drug, these symptoms will not subside.
To tell if you have a physical addiction, you can speak to an experienced counsellor who will assess your situation and your substance use. Those with experience of addiction are trained to recognise the signs of addiction and can give you an idea of what your needs might be and whether a detox is appropriate in your situation.
How Drug Detox Can Break the Cycle of Addiction
If you have been abusing drugs for some time, you will need to break the cycle of addiction before you can move on to treat any other part of your illness. The reality is that detox is just the first part of the process. Drug rehabilitation and aftercare must follow it if you are to recover permanently.
The first step of the process is quitting the drug to which you have been addicted. You must make the decision to stop and then wait until your body eliminates all remaining chemicals or toxins that have built up over time.
In the past, you may have tried to quit drugs, but when you began experiencing withdrawals, your first instinct was to go right back to the drug to make you feel better. With a drug detox, you will have to ride out the unpleasant and uncomfortable withdrawals as this is the only way to break the cycle of addiction for good.
It is important to bear in mind that while you may feel quite unwell, particularly in the first few days of the detox, you are going to eventually feel better. The symptoms will pass, and you will then be able to get your life back on track.
What is Drug Detox Like?
The aim of detox is to allow you to stop taking drugs and let your body begin the healing process before you attempt to tackle the emotional or psychological issues that led you to this point in the first place. Trying to tackle rehab while addiction still clouds the mind and body is unwise. You need all your wits about you when trying to overcome addiction, so it is important that you are as well as you can be before rehab begins.
A detox process generally takes between one and two weeks to complete and most people find that it is best carried out in the confines of a dedicated detox facility. Here, you will quit drugs and wait while your body attempts to get back to normal. In a supervised facility, medical staff will monitor you and can make you feel more comfortable should your withdrawal symptoms be causing you any pain or distress.
While most people will experience some withdrawal symptoms during a drug detox, it is impossible to tell which symptoms these will be or how severe they are going to be before the process begins. Symptoms are usually mild, moderate, or severe and most people will only experience mild to moderate symptoms. Nonetheless, some people do experience the most severe symptoms and for that reason, supervision is necessary.
The type of substance you were abusing and the length of time you were addicted will influence how your drug detox progresses. Other factors that can have an impact on the type of symptoms experienced include age and overall health. For example, if you have any underlying mental of physical health issues, you may be more prone to severe withdrawals.
Where Should You Detox?
If you are planning to get started on your recovery journey and it has been established that you have a physical addiction, you will have to begin with a drug detox. Deciding where this should take place is your next job. You may want to detox at home in familiar surroundings with people you know in attendance; in some instances, this is completely appropriate.
However, before you attempt to detox at home, you need to make sure that it is suitable to your situation and your needs. As previously mentioned, if you have underlying health issues, you have a higher risk for severe withdrawal symptoms and a home detox would be inappropriate in this situation.
There are other situations where a dedicated detox would be the preferred choice. If you have already experienced withdrawal symptoms such as hallucinations or severe shaking when in need of drugs, then it would be better to complete the process under medical supervision. Your symptoms may get worse the longer the detox goes on, which will make you feel quite uncomfortable. In a supervised facility, staff can prescribe medication if necessary and appropriate, making you more comfortable.
If you have previously been violent or aggressive while under the influence of drugs, then it might be better to avoid a home detox. The preferred method would be to detox at a private drug clinic.
What Happens After Detox
Detox is just the first part of the recovery process. It is necessary to complete it before taking any further action to overcome your addiction, but you should not view completion of the process as the end of your journey.
Many people believe that once they have successfully quit drugs, they are ready to head back to the real world as they are no longer craving the substance that has blighted their life for so long. Drug cravings can come and go for many months and knowing how to deal with them is a huge part of enabling you to stay sober going forward.
It is also important to remember that you will never be fully recovered from addiction if you fail to address the issues that caused the illness in the first place. Rehabilitation must follow a detox if you are to have any chance of long-term sobriety.
If you would like more information on overcoming addiction once and for all, please contact us here at Primrose Lodge. We can provide information on how drug detox can break the cycle of addiction and how you can access such a programme with us.
Our clinic is comfortable, and our detox and rehabilitation programmes speak for themselves. If you are ready to turn your back on drug use for good, we can help. Please call today to speak to one of our friendly, experienced advisors.