The Process of Drug Detox

Recovery is a major and challenging undertaking for any addict, and the many steps to it can be intimidating. There are a number of steps involved, including checking into rehab, being psychologically and physically tested, going through the detox process, attending therapy sessions and groups, and maintaining aftercare.

The detox process, in particular, can be one of the most daunting for drug or alcohol addicts. Detox is the procedure of eliminating drugs in the body. This generally consists of waiting on the body to naturally clear out toxins, but can also include utilizing specific diets and medical procedures.

Many challenges come with detox, and while it may be among the first steps towards recovery, it is one of the most difficult. There are many physical and psychological hurdles that any addict willing to go through the recovery process should be aware of.

The Beginning of Withdrawal

One of the first and most difficult hurdles of detox is the trouble of withdrawal. When a person abstains from a drug—particularly a more addicting one—their body tends to suffer from a variety of psychological and physical side effects. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Poor concentration
  • Shakiness
  • Racing heartrate

It is possible you have dealt with these symptoms before—perhaps when you missed a dose or have attempted to quit on your own. This makes giving up on recovery all the more tempting and easy, but it is also why you should seek professional help when trying to overcome an addiction.

The Side Effects and Their Intensity

Unfortunately, the road to recovery can be a bumpy one and is a test of mental fortitude. The first symptoms of withdrawal in the detox process are difficult, but they can grow even more intense.

After the first 24 to 48 hours, side effects from withdrawal tend to intensify to more severe symptoms. Anxiety heightens and becomes paranoia, irritability becomes mood swings, shakiness becomes intense muscle pain, and chills and intense cravings begin to develop.

After a few days, however, symptoms can intensify to their worst side effects as you potentially deal with relapse. In the worst case scenarios, you could begin to deal with hallucinations, strokes, seizures, or even heart attacks.

This is why recovery is important to work with professional therapists and doctor—they can deal with any drastic shifts in your health, help you deal with your withdrawal symptoms, reduce the discomfort that comes with them using medications, and track your progress in recovery.

The Problem with PAWS

After clearing the detox process and managing to stabilize from its many symptoms and side effects, addiction treatment generally becomes more calm and smooth. Rather than dealing with heavy nausea or the risk of serious health issues, you will be guided through therapy sessions and exercises to help cope in a life without drugs.

But with the passing of any addiction comes the always-looming risk of PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome. This can occur weeks or even months after detox, and cause withdrawal symptoms severe enough to lead to a relapse. These symptoms may be similar to past withdrawals but can vary in severity and shift within hours or even minutes.

In the case you deal with PAWS post-recovery, do not hesitate to reach out to a doctor or therapy group for help. Cravings and relapses, no matter how minor, can be serious consequences when ignoring PAWS and should be taken extremely seriously.

If you or a loved one is considering rehabilitation for drug or alcohol addiction, contact a local Treatment & Rehab program in Tennessee. You might also investigate Discovery Place’s own recovery programs, such as our 30 Day Residential Addiction Recovery Program or our Long Term Recovery Program in Burns, Tennessee. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-725-0922.

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