Detoxification programs are easier to find than you think. Oftentimes, a person struggling with a alcoholism or a drug addiction will rule out treatment for fear of losing their job, leaving their family, or for being labeled an addict. Do not let these fears deter you from seeking help for yourself.
Alcohol & Drug Detox
Detoxification and recovery from addictive substances has become more and more prolific in todays world. 12-step programs are flourishing and recovery centers are seeing more people for their specific substance addictions.
There are several different ways to get over a substance addiction these days, from inpatient and outpatient recovery centers, straight abstinence and detoxing on your own (which isn’t recommended), holistic medicine, community programs, and others.
The two main classes of substances that people need to detoxify from due to addiction are drugs and alcohol. The “drug” category includes things such as narcotics and opiates like heroin, morphine, Vicodin, cocaine and so on to “simple” drugs like marijuana.
One of the most addictive and destructive illicit substances out on the black market today is methamphetamine. As outlined by Drugfreeworld.org, it can be used in various ways, such as by snorting, injecting or smoking it. The drug creates a false sense of confidence, well-being and gives a euphoric rush when used. It also decreases appetite.
Over time, destroys many parts and functions of the body. The tissue that the drug comes into contact with most regularly (i.e. if it was sniffed, then the nose, or smoked, the mouth, teeth, throat, lungs, etc.) slowly becomes deteriorated and rots away. Tooth decay and lung deterioration can occur, leading to respiratory illnesses and severe tooth infections, which can be fatal. If the drug was injected, abscesses can form as well the possibility of infectious diseases being contracted. If the drug is sniffed, the issue in the nose begins to disappear.
After long usage, meth deteriorates the blood vessels in the body, mainly those in the brain and heart. Strokes, heart attacks and high blood pressure can occur from this.
Along with the physical, a series of mental illnesses can occur. Most forms of psychosis may be inevitable, if the user was using meth long enough. General confusion, apathy and disorientation can occur as well.
If one were to decide that it was time to quit using meth, then there are several options available for detoxification and recovery. Aside from its destructive capabilities and heavy addiction rates, the physical withdrawals from meth are not that bad compared to the withdrawals of other substances. It’s the psychological dependency that makes detoxing from meth difficult to any degree.
They are similar to quitting smoking, wherein the person who is detoxing has strange mood swings, from jumpy and irritable to flat and apathetic. At worst, sleep can be drastically reduced, even resulting in insomnia. Withdrawals from meth in general do not last more than a few days.
Despite the fact that the withdrawals from meth tend not to be too drastic and are short-lived, it is still recommended that the user seek medical attention and support from quitting meth due to the high recidivism rate associated with former meth users. In the fog of withdrawals, users feel that in order to get rid of the withdrawals from using meth, especially if they were a heavy user, that more meth will fix it, starting the vicious cycle all over again.
Prescription Drugs and Other Opiates
Of all kinds of substance abuse in the world today, prescription drug usage is one of the fastest growing. It is elusive and masked in necessity, as well as legality, and most people who are addicted to prescription drugs do not know it. Painkillers like Vicodin and drugs used to detox off of other opiates like Methadone are strong and can be used incorrectly.
The nature of prescription drugs is that they are used to treat other problems, and the forming of an addiction is usually masked by the problem, such as chronic pain. Once the problem is solved and the drug is no longer needed, an addiction can already have taken root and blossomed.
This is one way that someone may come across becoming addicted to a prescription drug. Straight abuse in order to get high is also very prolific in todays society. For example, people have been known to grind up and snort painkillers in order to achieve a fast and acute high. Another example might be students buying Adderall illegally and taking it during finals in order to stay hyper-focused on studying. Once finals are over, the user might have become addicted to the high they get and are impressed with the results that they continue to take the drug in order to do well in school.
Prescription and Opiate Detox
Although detoxing from any kind of prescription drug is not fatal, it can sure feel that way. Heavy users of opiates have described the withdrawals as feeling like they are going to die.
Most prescription painkillers are opiates, otherwise referred to as opioids.
It is highly recommended that the person who is detoxing from opioids be put into an inpatient facility due to the fact that the withdrawals feel so horrific, relapse is a high probability in order to make the pain go away. According to WebMD.com, common symptoms of painkiller opiate withdrawals are:
- Intense cravings for substances, specifically the one they are detoxing from
- Excessive Yawning
- Large Pupils
- Abdominal Pain
- Chills and Goosebumps (thus the phrase: Cold-Turkey)
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Body Aches
- Agitation and a severe bad moods
These symptoms can vary in intensity from person to person, but are usually very acute and extremely painful. People who have detoxed from opiates before and have relapsed would rather keep using than go back to the pain they experienced while going through withdrawals.
There are other methods of treating opioid withdrawals than straight abstinence. Other medications can be used to “take place” of the opiate that is being detoxed off of. Such medications include:
Methadone - Also an opioid drug itself, it comes in smaller doses and is longer acting. It simulates the presence of opioids in the brain but does not cause the euphoria and high associated with using, thus eliminating withdrawals. The drug can be addicting in and of itself, which is why this drug is administered under the guidance of a medical professional and is weaned off of once its usage starts. It is the best known treatment for opiate detox on the market today.
Subutex and Suboxone - Rather new drugs, both Subutex and Suboxone are used in stages of the opiate withdrawal process. They act the same way that Methadone does in that they activate the opioid receptors in the brain and reduce or diminish withdrawal symptoms altogether. Subutex is used in the first few days of detoxification, and is then replaced with Suboxone for the “maintenance period” of detox. Suboxone is also weaned off of at the end of the detox period.
Clonidine - Used in tandem with one of the other two treatment options, Clonidine is a blood pressure medication that reduces the “fight or flight” instinct during severe opiate withdrawals. Such urges can manifest themselves in someone who is going through severe opiate withdrawals and cannot deal with the pain of them. This drug is used in tandem because it is ineffective with withdrawal symptoms on its own.
These detox measures can also be used for people who are coming off of all types of opiates, including heroin, although in that case it mind as well be mandatory that the person be under medical supervision during the withdrawal process.
The effects of excessive alcohol consumption on the body can be widespread, permanent, and lethal. There are several ways that alcoholism affects the body of the addicted person, both biologically, psychologically and emotionally.
According to an article published online by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the main areas that excessive, prolonged drinking can affect are the brain, heart, liver, pancreas and immune system.
The brain is the first organ to be affected by excessive alcohol consumption. Once alcohol gets into the brain, certain areas of the brain are dulled, while others are amplified, bringing about drastic changes in mood and personality. This is how people become their “drunk selves”. Another way that alcohol affects the brain is by disrupting the communication pathways that connect the brain.
This can lead to the brain actually becoming slightly misshapen, which over long periods of time and heavy drinking can become permanent, i.e. wet-brain and delirium, along with other mental illnesses. This is what also causes blackouts- the communicators in the brain that allow memory to become imprinted are disrupted to the point they cease working for a time.
Long Term Damage Of Alcohol
Damage to the heart is similar to the brain, in that over time the heart itself can become warped and misshapen due to excessive alcohol consumption. This can lead to something called cardiomyopathy, which is the stretching or drooping of the heart muscle. Other things that can happen to the heart are arrhythmias, which is where the heart beats irregularly, clotting in the arteries and veins leading to strokes, and the most common and early symptom of heart problems caused by drinking: high blood pressure.
The liver takes the hardest hit over time from long-term drinking. Something called steatosis of the liver can occur, which is where the liver starts to turn into fat. This alone can be life-threatening, for it can lead to liver failure and eventual coma. Alcoholic hepatitis is when the liver begins to swell and become damaged, also leading to the possibility of liver failure.
Cirrhosis of the liver is one of the most well-known and dangerous of the afflictions that are brought on by excessive drinking. Liver cirrhosis is where a great deal of damage has occurred to the liver from excessive consumption of alcohol, and the liver begins to scar as it heals itself. The scarring is permanent and acts as a “road block” between the livers functions, disrupting those functions. The scarring becomes so bad that it begins to spread to the immune and nervous systems.
Alcohol affects the pancreas adversely in that over time, excessive alcohol consumption causes the pancreas to let out toxic substances into the body, leading to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
Excessive drinking also slows down and disrupts the immune system, causing the drinker to become ill more easily. Diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia can be contracted more easily, even up to 24 hours after a heavy drinking period.
Once someone decides to quit drinking altogether, they will be met with a series of withdrawals that vary in their intensity depending on the severity of which they were drinking beforehand. The symptoms and effects of alcoholic withdrawal are so acute that it has been classified as an actual syndrome, simple: Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome, and it's recommended to detox in a certified alcohol rehab.
The early withdrawals from excessive drinking are common enough that they can be mistaken for other things, such as the flu. These include things like:
- Bodily Tremors
- Nausea and/or Vomiting
- Increased Heart Rate
- Irritability and Confusion
- Unusual Nightmares
These symptoms could be simply precursors to something far worse down the road for someone who has quit heavy, prolonged drinking: Delirium Tremens, or DTs. DTs are acute, severe withdrawals from alcohol and can be life-threatening if not treated in a medical facility. Symptoms and effects of DTs are as follows:
- Extreme Confusion or Agitation
- High Fever
- Heart Disturbances
- Seizures of Varying Severity, all the way up to Grand Mal
- Hallucinations, including:
- Tactile (e.g. itching, burning, numbness)
- Auditory (hearing things that are not there)
- Visual (seeing things that are not there)
Due to the severity of these withdrawals and the close inter-linking of alcohol to the biology of the alcoholic, AWS is the only kind of withdrawal process that is treated, very seldomly, with the very substance that it is withdrawing from. In earlier days, when AWS and DTs were starting to become treated and alcoholism was starting to actually become acknowledged as a disease, patients were given small doses of alcohol during their withdrawals in order to keep the body stable and help them wean off of the drink.
Holistic Drug and Alcohol Treatment
The word “holistic” refers to a person's entirety- their whole mind, body, soul, and general well-being. Holistic treatment is aimed to treat the entire addict or alcoholic, not just the withdrawals from their addictions. Holistic treatment aims to use more natural remedies to the problems that an addict faces.
Things like yoga, massage, acupuncture, homeopathic remedies such as nutrient pills and essential oils, biofeedback electronic treatment, movement therapy, meditation, chiropractic treatment, and so on. Holistic treatment facilities are opening up more and more these days and should be readily available to anyone who needs them.
There are counseling programs, outpatient programs and home sobriety coaching programs which are great options to work around your demanding schedule. Treatment works! If you have the desire, then reach out to find a treatment program in your area.
Recovery Now TV has a network of amazing programs. All programs in the Recovery Now TV network have pledged to provide help for people in ANY situation. It is our goal to take away your fears and find a program that will help you on your road to Recovery.