detox for alcohol addiction

Detox is a Priority over Everything: Your Health Comes First

Essentially, when one decides to take on the path of recovery, getting clean and ridding all the junk out our systems is the beginning of our new beginnings. First, we have to make detox a priority.

Ok, we’re starting with some good ole metaphors. Let’s say we want to bury something in the backyard. We walk outside, grab the shovel, and start digging. This is in correspondence to the hole we dig ourselves in – active addiction and alcoholism. 

So you go out and dig said hole, throw in the object (usually this is our misery and powerlessness), and then you slowly proceed with filling up the void. Like so many other things in life, to start fixing the created problem, you must start at the beginning. It might seem like it’ll take ages to get back to the top, but being consistent with the first few shovelfuls will get you on the right track. 

How Detox Helps Kick Start Recovery

Detoxifying all the chemicals and garbage out of our systems will help us better function the way we are naturally intended to. All the alcohol and drugs practically weigh us down, and now the goal is to start shedding that weight. The process of detoxification is mostly physical. The idea of addiction and recovery is more mental exercise. Regardless, they both correspond with each other in regular everyday life. 

Thankfully, medical detox is quite simple to understand. The medical detox process will be broken down into a series of steps that should be followed in order:

Step 1: Knowing the Rules

All medical detoxification (detox) facilities are designed to do the same thing, but each facility will have different rules and regard what patients can bring with them for care. Some detox facilities will allow hair products that contain alcohol, for example, while others don’t let those substances. All luggage will be checked on arrival, and it does become upsetting to have items tossed by the intake staff. Knowing what is allowed and not allowed can help the patient avoid being upset at the check-in.

Similarly, some medical detox facilities want their patients to be in active withdrawal when they arrive for treatment. These facilities will expect to see withdrawal signs when patients arrive, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Minor shakes 
  • Nausea

Other facilities aren’t as strict about withdrawal, and they want their patients happy and healthy when arriving for care. Knowing the rules will make all the difference in terms of starting on the right track during the treatment process.

Step 2: Timing the Last Dose

Most medical detox facilities will use medications to help the patient go through the process without experiencing discomfort. The number of medications a patient will need genuinely depends on when the last dose was taken.

The National Highway Safety Administration had stated that heroin effects might last up to six hours, but the rate will deeply depend on the method used to take the drug. Shooting heroin has a different impact than sniffing it. Similarly, different substances will come with different active times, and they will need different replacement medications per substance used.

Before enrolling in a rehab program, The individual should note which substance was used and when the last dose was taken. This is vital information the medical detox team will need to customize an appropriate treatment program. 

Step 3: Prepare to Answer Questions

Addiction is often surrounded by secrecy. Individuals who are addicted will have an entire suite of skills crafted to avoid questions about and to hide their drug use. These skills are sharpened over many years of substance use and are the sole responsibility of keeping the addiction hidden.

When ready to accept it and enroll in medical detox, it is critical to put those skills aside.  The medical detox team will need honest answers to the following questions involving:

  • Drug dosages
  • Dosage frequency
  • Drug sources
  • Drugs took most frequently
  • Drugs took most occasionally

Once the interview involving substance-abuse is complete, the medical detox team may ask questions concerning the patient’s mental health and history of the disease. Again, his questions may seem intrusive, and it may be tempting to lie, the team will need to know the scope of the problems the patient is facing. Answering those tough questions is a crucial way to get that information which will help customize the detox method.

Step 4: Prepare for Drug Tests

Interviews about the patient’s drug use will give the doctor a great deal about the patient’s substance-abuse habits, but other questions may remain. Some people will metabolize drugs at a different rate than others, and some may bend the truth about their drug use. To rely on interviews solely is not ideal, so most programs will also incorporate urine and blood tests into the intake process.

Tests for substances are remarkably sensitive. Forensic Fluids Laboratories state that blood, urine, or saliva tests can detect most drugs for up to four days after they were taken. This means those tests will uncover the issues that patients desperately want to keep hidden. These tests are crucial in getting doctors the data they need to help get the patient the proper help they’re seeking.

Step 5: Surrender to the Symptoms

The mission of a medical detox program is to assist patients through the withdrawal process in a safe and controlled manner. These programs were specifically built to help ensure patients can get sober without losing their lives. Still, these programs won’t guarantee a lack of discomfort—mild discomfort is a regular part of the sobriety process.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse has stated that clinicians use a withdrawal scale to supervise the withdrawal process. They’re looking out for the presence and severity of common withdrawal signs which include:

  • Anxiety
  • Goosebumps
  • Runny nose
  • Restlessness
  • Yawning
  • Fast pulse
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Pinned pupils

Patients with more severe symptoms may need medications to soothe their distress, where patients with moderate symptoms may enroll in a less intense form. 

Step 6: Prescribed Medications

When the withdrawal symptoms become severe, clinicians will provide a medication to offer the patient relief. The medicines prescribed will genuinely depend on the drugs the patient was accustomed to take. An overview in Medscape had stated that substitute medications would typically have some cross-tolerance with the substance the individual had taken on an addictive basis. This means the medications are similar to, but not the same as, the substances the individual had once taken regularly.

In the beginning stages of the withdrawal process, a dose of a replacement medication might be as significant as the dose of the addictive drugs the individual had once taken. As the process moves forward, the dosage will be getting smaller. 

A breakdown of the treatment process is as outlined: 

  • Intervention
  • Detoxification
  • Intensive outpatient therapy
  • Partial hospitalization program
  • Residential treatment
  • Therapy and counseling
  • Outpatient services
  • Alumni and aftercare plans

detox is the first priority

Step 7: Use Supplemental Programs

Individuals enrolled in medical detox programs will not be sitting in a room taking medications all day long. They will be encouraged to get up, get moving, and get better. Often, programs will have a suite of supplemental activities that will assist the healing process on a physical and spiritual level.

For example, some programs may offer yoga classes. There, the patient will enroll and take these classes where they can stretch, bed, and breeze. All techniques to help them calm their muscles and minds to help them relax.

Other medical detox programs will offer complementary therapy techniques like massage and acupuncture to ease drug withdrawal discomfort. These are all non-pharmacological techniques that may appeal to patients who don’t want to take prescription drugs to heal.

The patients who take advantage of these programs will come face-to-face on how drugs have changed their bodies. As the patient recovers from cocaine addiction, they will see that their once disturbed sleep will improve. It’s a subtle change, but it indicates the body is healing. This can be a motivating factor to keep a patient in treatment. 

Step 8: Check into Rehab

Once an individual reaches a level of recovery stability, or they’re not taking medications to control withdrawal, and they’re clear-headed enough to talk about addiction, it is time to leave the detox facility and enroll in rehab. A rehab program will continue the sobriety process after the drugs have been cleansed from the body. With the right rehab program, patients can become sober and go back to relive their life.

The NIDA has stated that the goal of a rehab program is to return patients to a productive level of functioning, both at home and in the community. Patients can accomplish that mission through counseling, support groups, and other forms of therapy. Medical detox providers practice the same efficacy of rehab, and sometimes even supervise the transition from detox to rehab. 

Medical detox is a process that makes individuals with addictions feel the work is too hard, too long, or both. It is essential, though, to remember the risks involved with ongoing addiction like an overdose. Every year, 22% of people who use it will suffer from a near-miss overdose. Thousands more won’t be so lucky and will die from an overdose.

Medical detox is a crucial step for an individual to prevent those overdoses. To follow this plan is the absolute best way to get better.

In Comes Healthy Living Choices

Making detox a priority over everything is a compelling way to begin recovery in the right direction. Sure, withdrawals are intimidating and extremely uncomfortable- there’s no denying that. The thing is, we shouldn’t stay bound to the shackles of addiction if there is a known way out. 

Most addicts and alcoholics will avoid detoxing for fear or how uncomfortable or painful withdrawing from a substance can be. The worst of these withdrawals will include opiates, benzodiazepines, and alcohol. The body is exceptionally prone to succumbing to a physical dependence on these particularly. 

Symptoms of Drug and Alcohol Withdrawals

Withdrawal symptoms can include cold and hot flashes, vomiting and diarrhea, fever, achy bones and joints, profuse sweating, and the overall sensation of what you’d imagine death feels like. However, the human body is an adaptive living thing, and you will get through the discomfort.

It is often recommended that when starting the cleaning of your system, you do a little more than drop the substances to the side. Upon entering recovery or sobriety, it is imperative to know that sometimes you must run twice as fast to stay in place. Addiction and alcoholism are tricky mental diseases that will catch people off guard time and time again. So being proactive in our health choices will help everything flow smoothly as the chemicals slowly exit our bodies. This means taking a few extra steps.

Optimizing Your Detox Process

Now that we are making detox a priority, we must start caring about what’s going in. Drinking and eating healthy while detoxing can make a gigantic difference in your overall mood and level of energy. Drinking soda and eating junk food is horrible for you anyway, so why would you do that to yourself while trying to expend all the built-up toxins? That’s only going to make it harder for you. 

In the end, we are the only solution to ourselves. They say there’s no “I” in teamwork, but I disagree. Sometimes it takes great effort to work with yourself on character defects and other personal things.

Getting back to the main point, it is wise to take care of your body to the best of your ability while sobering up. Drinking water and liquids with electrolytes and vitamins are highly advised. When the detoxing commences, our bodies are depleted of fluids. Sometimes patients at a facility will be hooked up and monitored on an IV because of the level of dehydration being experienced. 

Liquids haven has been taken care of, and we now turn our heads over to food. Certain things we eat benefit our immune system. Some things promote a renewal of blood, brain, and skin cells. Other edibles can help push all the heavy toxins out our bodies a little faster than anticipated. Eating junk food can be very detrimental while making detox a priority. Sticking to hearty, healthy meals will also encourage healthy brain functioning. This is vital for anybody to get out of that hazy cloud we’ve been living in.

Getting a Healthy Routine for Long-Term Recovery

It all boils down to creating a healthy routine of sorts. This, of course, includes sleep and exercise as top priorities. Not staying up too many hours and trying to fixate on a regular sleep schedule does the mind and body wonders. It’s all connected- the mind, body, and soul. Without the proper amount of sleep, everything will start performing poorly. 

Exercise and physical activity can help you sweat out toxins, increase healthy blood flow to your heart, and release endorphins in the brain, causing you to feel in a content state. This is a highly beneficial way to distract you from the withdrawal discomfort.

What Are Your Priorities?

We all lead different lives, but at the end of the day, a lot of us deal with similar issues. Addiction and alcoholism are big ones, and if this is the case for you or a loved one- you are not alone. If you or your loved one requires detoxification due to substance dependency, please call our team at Coastal Detox, or contact us here. Make detox a priority, call our team of specialists to help figure out what options are best for sending your life in a comfortable direction that you can proudly stand behind.