Picture this. It’s late at night and you are all alone. You were recently fired from your job for not showing up. Your boss warned you that if it happened a third time, he was going to have to let you go. How could you have possibly made it through the day though, with that horrific hangover you were experiencing?
On the table in front of you, is a pile of past due bills that keeps growing. Now that you have been fired from work, you have no idea how you are going to pay them. There is only a small amount of money left in your bank account and you already know that is for more alcohol.
As you sit there contemplating your next move, all you can think about is how a drink would make everything seem so much better. You know as soon as the alcohol seeps into your bloodstream, you’ll be greeted by that warm tingly feeling that brings you comfort and relief. “Just one drink will help me think.”, is what you tell yourself on the way to the kitchen.
As you open the refrigerator door to grab a drink, you notice there is only one left. You panic as you look at the clock, realizing how late it is. All the stores are already closed for the night. You become anxious, knowing that you cannot buy anymore alcohol until the next morning.
You grab the last drink out of the fridge and stare at it for a moment, as if you were about to say goodbye to a dear friend. You are almost scared to drink it because you know it’s the last one, but the urge to drink is so intense at this point, you crack it open and start sipping.
After finishing the drink, you know it is time for bed. You must go to sleep, or else you will be fiending for more alcohol. Once it is in your system, alcohol is the only thing your mind can focus on. So, you lay down, close your eyes, and eventually drift off to sleep.
After waking up the next morning, you can already tell your body needs more alcohol. Your hands are slightly shaking and feel sweaty. You hurry up and get dressed so you can go to the store. Before walking out the door, you check the balance in your account one last time, just to make sure you have enough money to buy any kind of alcohol.
NO! The money that was in your account yesterday is gone! An automatic payment that you forgot about hit earlier this morning, wiping out your account. Now you really start to panic, as you realize there is no chance of getting more alcohol.
You know exactly what this means. By later that day, you will not be able to write anything because your hands will be shaking too bad. You will have probably vomited a couple of times by then too. Your body will be covered in sweat and will feel clammy all over. You will be freezing and burning up at the same time, as if your body cannot control its own temperature.
By the next morning, you will probably have difficulty standing or walking, because your entire body will be trembling. You will be exhausted from tossing and turning all night. You will feel even more nauseous because you haven’t been able to eat anything or drink any alcohol. At this point, you have nothing in your stomach, so you dry-heave each time you go to vomit.
By later that evening, you will probably be telling yourself that death would feel better because you are in so much pain. All the muscles in your body will be tensed up and cramping because you will probably be experiencing convulsions by then. Your heart will be racing because your blood pressure will be high. You will be extremely agitated and anxious because you will probably be hallucinating. You were very fortunate that the EMT’s made it to your house so quickly the last time this happened. How lucky will you be this time?
Even if you cannot personally relate to this story, I bet you know someone who can. That is because addiction affects millions of Americans today. Whether you are rich or poor, healthy or sick, addiction does not discriminate. Everyone who becomes physically dependent on drugs or alcohol must experience withdrawal before any recovery can begin. Fortunately, there are methods such as medical detox, that can help you work through the withdrawal process and alleviate or even eliminate the pain and discomfort that unfortunately comes with it.
How Does Withdrawal Affect the Body?
If you have ever been an addict or alcoholic, then you probably experienced some type of withdrawal symptoms throughout your addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on what type of drug is being abused, the method of abuse, and how long the individual has been addicted to it.
Chronic use of drugs and alcohol can eventually lead an individual to physical dependence because their body adapts to the presence of the substance. It is almost like the human body is tricked into believing that the substance is just another part of itself that is needed for survival.
When an addict or alcoholic suddenly stops using or uses less of the drug or alcohol, their body will experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from certain substances such as alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines can be life-threatening, due to the way they interact with certain brain receptors. Use of these substances should never be stopped “cold turkey” because it can throw the body into extreme shock, which can trigger organ failure. This is when medical intervention becomes necessary. Doctors can administer prescription drugs that help the body safely taper off dependence.
Common withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Abdominal cramps
- Muscle aches
- Back and joint pain
- Irregular heart rate
- High or low blood pressure
- Cold and clammy skin
- Respiratory distress
- Mental confusion
- Dilated pupils
- Tingling in extremities
- Trouble concentrating
- Short-term memory issues
- Mental confusion
- Suicidal thoughts
- Muscle weakness
- Appetite fluctuations
- Pain sensitivity
Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Again, the length and severity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on what type of drug is being abused, the method of abuse, and how long the individual has been addicted to it.
What is Medical Detoxing?
Detoxification is the process in which toxic substances are removed from the body of an individual who is dependent on drugs or alcohol. Medical detoxification is the very first step towards a successful recovery.
One main reason why people continue to use drugs and alcohol is because they fear going through withdrawal. They are fully aware of the pain and agony that goes along with quitting their drug of choice. This is what detox centers are here for.
A detox center is a safe environment where health care professionals can administer prescription drugs to help ease the discomfort of the withdrawal process, while safely managing the side effects.
Medical detox, however, does not treat any underlying causes of addiction. This is only the first step in the treatment process.
Advantages of Medical Detoxing
The biggest advantage of medical detox is being able to comfortably withdraw from alcohol or drugs, while being less susceptible to other life-threatening complications. You can take comfort in knowing that your health is being monitored by medical professionals, as you go through this difficult time. In a medical detox facility, care and support are available 24/7. You never have to feel like you are going through the process alone.
Another advantage of medical detox is the ability to recover while being away from drugs and alcohol. Recovering from substances is hard enough as it is. Trying to recover from a substance while still being around the substance is even more difficult.
Detox facilities use medications to reduce or even eliminate withdrawal symptoms. This makes the entire process so much more comfortable and manageable. It can also shorten the duration of the withdrawal process.
Medical detox helps to improve your physical and mental health by removing toxins from your body. It also reduces the risk for relapsing, overdosing, and death.
1. Eat healthy and nutritious meals
Over time, drugs and alcohol deplete the body of vitamins and nutrients that help it run efficiently. Replacing these nutrients during withdrawal can actually help the body heal faster. Meals that are high in protein and packed with vitamins and nutrients are essential for restoring healthy body and brain functioning. Foods you should steer clear of are processed foods, saturated fats, caffeine, refined sugars, and oil.
2. Stay hydrated
Your body needs water regardless, but especially when you are withdrawing from a substance. Dehydration is common in people experiencing withdrawal. One reason is because vomiting is a withdrawal symptom and we all know that causes dehydration. Drinking lots of water will also help flush your system and rid your body of toxins.
3. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is very important to a healing body. During withdrawal, sleep is often disrupted, so it is important to establish a healthy sleep schedule. Waking up and going to bed at the same time every day can help manage that. Another way to ensure better sleep is to not do anything overly stimulating before bed, such as exercising or watching tv. Try more relaxing techniques such as reading or meditating.
4. Stretch your body
Stretching helps to stimulate blood flow and circulation throughout the body. It also helps to relieve muscle pain and tension, which are common withdrawal symptoms. Do some light stretching or simple yoga poses during withdrawal to help alleviate some of the muscle tension and body aches you might be experiencing.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please get the help that is needed. Do not try to do it alone. There are so many different addiction treatment options available that can even be customized to fit your individual needs. Just remember, withdrawal is an essential part of the recovery process. It is your first step in the right direction. Contact The Hills Treatment Center today to learn more about how we are here to help you work through withdrawal.