Detox is the process of ridding the body of toxins and mood altering substances. Anything that alters the body’s normal functions or causes disease is defined as a toxin. Detoxifying the body of drugs is especially important in opiate addiction and alcoholism cases, without proper detox, an addict can feel extreme physical discomfort leading to hasty departure from rehabilitation. In extreme situations, such as with heavy and extended alcohol addiction, physical symptoms can become so severe that they’re life threatening.
When the ongoing use of a substance is stopped abruptly the detox process begins. Withdrawal symptoms are almost immediately present and cause a great deal of physical and emotion pain. The detox process can be accompanied with the help of detox drugs such as Valium, Suboxone, Methadone, Subutex, Librium, and others. The first step in overcoming any addiction is the detoxification process and although it can become a rollercoaster ride for the patient, it is completely unavoidable and treated with the most delicacy in order to ease the patient’s pain.
The type of drug the patient is using plays an important factor in the severity and type of symptoms a patient will experience. Frequency of use, dosage, and duration of use also affect the severity and type of treatment administered.
Detoxifying from alcohol can be a difficult journey but can be overcome with time and medical help. Alcohol Detox comes in phases. The first phase can last anywhere to within 24 hours of the last consumption of alcohol to a few days. Patients often become anxiety ridden and paranoid. The physical symptoms are shakes, sweating, insomnia, fast heart rate, dry mouth, and nausea. The severe symptoms can last up to week and are as follows: chest infections, seizures, severe pain in stomach, and hand and body tremors. Patients may also hallucinate and have increased paranoia. The second phase of alcohol detox affect the patient’s emotional ability to deal with depression, anxiety, concentration, memory, and irritability. The second phase of symptoms can last up to six months but with therapy and addiction treatment can reduce the severity of the problem.
Opiate detox takes a shorter amount of time but is associated with more pain especially muscular pain. Patients are often given less and less of detoxing drugs as they ease into full-blown sobriety. The first stage of opiate detox can last up to 7-10 days depending on the severity of the disease. Heroin and morphine take longer than prescription opiates. The symptoms patients will experience when detoxing from opiates are yawning, sweating, muscle spasms, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, and changes in appetite. These patients can often become full of anxiety, irritability, and obsessive thoughts about the drug. The second stage of detoxifying from opiates has symptoms that can last up to six months but decrease in severity. Patients will often experience tiredness, poor appetite, insomnia, inability to tolerate stress, symptoms of OCD, and muscle aches.
Withdrawing from stimulants is less intense than withdrawing from alcohol and opiates because it is not as painful physically or as life threatening. The symptoms can last up to 7 days when the drug is extremely abused over a long period of time. Patients will experience excessive appetite, severe depression, low energy, chills, abdominal pain, and excessive sleepiness. Long term side effects are more psychological and can last up to six months and include low energy, inability to experience pleasure, and cocaine dreams.
Detoxification is short-term treatment and once the patient is rid of the toxins in their body they enter the treatment phase of overcoming addiction. Detox is only designed to relieve the body of toxins not to deal with any emotional or psychological issues, which is why patients are advised to attend treatment afterwards.