Drug addiction recovery is never a walk in the park. It’s unpleasant and frustrating. In that phase, you’ll experience a struggle between your desire to be free and your substance dependence.
For people who’ve never experienced addiction, recovery often seems straightforward. Most often they’ll think all you need to do is “get help”.
Getting help does help, but recovery involves a phase where the body must readjust to functioning properly without the narcotics. That period is never pleasant and comes with unique challenges. And that’s why we’ll be discussing it here.
We’ll examine what challenges you should expect during drug detox, how to prepare for them, and other tips to help you get through the drug detox process.
Drug Withdrawal Timeline and Symptoms to Expect
The main challenge you should expect during drug detox is the withdrawal phase. Withdrawal happens when your body can’t achieve a balanced state, called homeostasis and needs the object of your addiction to achieve it.
Primarily, constant use has altered your body system to rely on narcotics. But, as you try to wean off the substance, it becomes challenging for your body to maintain balance without the drugs.
The struggle for balance involves withdrawal symptoms that may last for days or weeks, depending on your addiction level.
The withdrawal timeline varies depending on the drug type, your level of dependence and the detox method you use. In an extreme situation, you may experience protracted withdrawal symptoms and sometimes severe health consequences.
But the more ordinary cases take between a few days to weeks. Usually, the first few days are the most painful. During this period, the body removes the substance remnants from its system. After that, your body focuses on healing and reversing the changes caused by the drugs.
Below are some detox symptoms you may experience during the withdrawal phase of your recovery.
Physical symptoms are the commonest withdrawal effects most addicts exhibit during drug detox. They’re also often the most painful as they attack your physiology with varying levels of intensity.
In the recovery timeline, physical symptoms are often the first effects of the withdrawal phase. Depending on the type of drug you consume and your addiction level, these effects typically take between 24 to 72 hours. In extreme cases, they may take 7 to 14 days.
Expectedly, this phase is usually unpleasant as your body works on eliminating the substance remnants. During this phase, you’ll likely experience any or all of the following conditions.
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Muscle pain
- Shakiness and palpitations
- Intense sweating
- Chills or shivering
In severe cases, you may experience delirium tremens, hallucinations and seizures. But those are rare and usually only happen with chronic users.
Behavioural symptoms are changes in how patients interact with people around them while undergoing drug detox withdrawal. These usually result from the toll the physical pain and intense cravings take on the patient’s mind.
You’ll likely endure exasperating experiences during this phase. As a result, you may exhibit behavioural changes as a reaction to the discomfort you’re going through.
Behavioural symptoms are often noticeable in speech pattern changes, agitation, and increased irritability. You’ll also feel increasing frustration levels which may culminate in anxiety and panic attacks.
An unusually volatile temper is also a common occurrence during the detox process. Generally, this stage starts during intense cravings between 12-24 hours after your last drug use.
Related Article: What Are the Different Types of Drug Detox Methods?
Psychological Symptoms are similar to behavioural symptoms and people often mix them. But they’re not the same. Behavioural symptoms are negative projections of the patients’ internal state during withdrawal.
As such, psychological changes also sometimes lead to behavioural symptoms. But, psychological symptoms are distinct and often subtler than behavioural symptoms.
Behavioural symptoms can be indicators of underlying psychological symptoms in obvious cases. But some psychological symptoms may not elicit obvious behavioural changes.
These symptoms may include:
- Change in appetite
- Changes in mood
- Slowed thought process and concentration difficulties
Considering Medication-Assisted Drug Detox
Several treatment options exist for drug detox, and they have varying degrees of effectiveness depending on several factors. But, the most recommended method by doctors is the medication-assisted drug detox.
You may not need a medication-assisted recovery program if you’re only mildly dependent on drugs. For example, you should be able to quit a mild alcohol addiction without medication. Plus, the doctors may recommend other practices to help you manage withdrawal symptoms instead.
But, patients with high drug dependence require medical treatment to augment their detox process. For these sets of people, the withdrawal symptoms are often unbearable and they may need medications to alleviate the effects.
In addition, abruptly quitting narcotics like benzodiazepines may have dangerous side effects. As such, signing up for a medically supervised drug detox program in Ontario is advisable instead of attempting to quit in isolation.
During the medication-assisted drug detox, doctors will prescribe specific medications to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms. The commonest medications doctors use include
- Librium (Chlordiazepoxide)
- Catapres (clonidine)
Doctors may also prescribe other medications to manage specific symptoms. These may include anticonvulsants, anti-anxiety medications, antipsychotics and other drugs that work for nausea or insomnia.
Related Article: Why is Detoxing Important, and What are the Benefits?
Overcoming the Challenges of Drug Detox
Drug detox withdrawal is the first and biggest challenge you’ll face in your recovery journey. But we promise you’ll be better for it once you get through the associated challenges. The process will also be easier if you properly prepare for and take the right measures before you start it.
But, never attempt to quit your drug addiction cold turkey. Dangerous and potentially life-threatening symptoms sometimes accompany withdrawal.
Instead, get professional help from experts. At Medical Detox Toronto, we provide holistic services to help and guide you through detox recovery.
We’ll love to assist in your drug detox journey, contact us today and let’s discuss the best drug detox options for your drug recovery needs.