Detox is the first and most integral step when it comes to addiction treatment. After years of abusing drugs and alcohol, you’ve finally made the life-altering decision to seek professional help. After all, addiction or a substance use disorder is a disease. It is chronic and progressive and can negatively impact all aspects of your life.
Unfortunately, the medical detox process is not easy. You will face many challenges, both physical and psychological in nature. Detox side effects can be uncomfortable and even potentially deadly. It is the fear of encountering these drug detox side effects that can keep people using their drug of choice well beyond the point of wanting to.
By receiving proper medical care at a professional medical detox, you can manage your detox side effects and make the withdrawal process as easy and safe as possible. With millions of people in active addiction throughout the world, you’re far from alone in this transition from substance abuse to sobriety. Read on to learn more about the withdrawal process, addiction, and what to expect from/how to manage detox side effects.
What is Addiction?
Addiction, officially known as a substance use disorder (SUD), is recognized as a disease by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). It is chronic and progressive, which means it can’t be cured and will worsen in severity over time. Certain criteria must be met to receive an official diagnosis by a medical professional. The criteria include:
- Taking a substance in a larger amount and for longer than intended
- Wanting to cut down or quit but not being able to do it
- Spending a lot of time obtaining the substance
- Craving or a strong desire to use the substance
- Repeatedly unable to carry out major obligations at work, school, or home due to substance use
- Continued use despite persistent or recurring social or interpersonal problems caused or made worse by substance use
- Stopping or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to substance use
- Recurrent use of the substance in physically hazardous situations
- Consistent use of the substance despite acknowledgment of persistent or recurrent physical or psychological difficulties from using the substance
- Tolerance as defined by either a need for markedly increased amounts to achieve intoxication or desired effect or markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount
- Withdrawal manifesting as either characteristic syndrome or the substance is used to avoid withdrawal
If you meet at least three of the above criteria, you meet the requirements for a substance use disorder diagnosis. It can range from mild (three of the above criteria), moderate (four to five of the above criteria), or severe (six to seven of the above criteria).
Upon receiving your official diagnosis, you may be ready to get help by means of addiction treatment. Although the disease of addiction cannot be cured, it is highly responsive to correct treatment. Detox is very important in order to deal with the impending withdrawal process.
What is the Withdrawal Process?
When it comes to having an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, the issue runs deeper than the surface symptoms of financial, emotional, and relationship problems. The internal chemistry of your brain and body are impacted and often changed as a result of these substances entering your system.
As you continually use and abuse these substances, the body gets acclimated to the presence of these drugs in your system. The brain will begin functioning differently. For example, if you abuse alcohol or benzodiazepines, the brain will change the way in which it produces the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).
If you attempt to simply just stop drinking or taking benzodiazepines cold turkey, you will begin to experience the withdrawal process. The withdrawal process is the onset of different physical and emotional symptoms that occur as the body and brain attempt to regulate themselves without the presence of the drugs in your system. This adjustment period will cause the body to encounter many uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, symptoms.
The withdrawal process for opioids is less severe than that of alcohol and benzos, but still presents multiple uncomfortable symptoms. Sometimes, the withdrawal process can be so severe that people who have an addiction feel unable to continue on and return to their drug of choice to stop the withdrawals.
These detox side effects can be managed by medical professionals. By attending a medical detox, your drug detox side effects and alcohol detox side effects can be treated using different detox medications and other addiction therapies.
Detox side effects can cause a major upset in your daily routine. These different symptoms will cause some severe emotional and physical maladies that can be debilitating. Besides the overall discomfort of detox side effects, as mentioned previously, the results of these symptoms can be deadly.
Each drug, whether prescription or illicit, presents a different withdrawal process. If you’re using more than one type of drug at a given time, known as polydrug use, your situation is even more variable. This is why attending a medical detox is so crucial.
Detox works by helping you manage your detox side effects effectively and safely. Each medical detox facility is fully staffed by a medical and clinical team. Since your personal experience relating to the withdrawal process is unique, you require an individualized detox plan to be successful in addiction treatment.
When you admit into medical detox, whether you undergo detox hospitalization or private detox, you’ll initially be seen by the medical team who’ll assess your drug use and overall physical health. Since certain underlying conditions may play a role in the withdrawal process, it’s important to take a look at every aspect of your physical health rather than simply the substance you’ve been abusing.
Once the assessment is completed, the medical team will implement a personalized detox plan that will address your detox side effects. This type of treatment plan will usually include a variety of different prescription detox medications as well as certain therapies designed to help you combat the psychological aspect of the withdrawal process.
Detox is important because, throughout your stay at the facility, you’ll be under 24-7 medical surveillance. This means throughout the course of each day, your vitals and progress will be monitored in order to track your progress and health.
Medical detox is also helpful since they do possess a full clinical staff made up of case managers, therapists, and support staff. Entering addiction recovery can be challenging emotionally, so having access to as much therapeutic support as possible is also extremely helpful. Most relapses are emotionally triggered, so getting a handle on your mental state is just as important as becoming medically stabilized.
Without undergoing detox, you’ll be left to your own devices and deal with your detox side effects alone. Most people in active addiction cannot get sober on their own since the severity of the withdrawal process can be unbearable for most. Having the medical and clinical intervention will make the difference you need to be successful in recovery.
Common Detox Side Effects
As mentioned above, the detox side effects that may manifest look different for everyone. Depending on the substance you use, the length of time you’ve been using, the amount you’ve been using, and your overall physical health, to begin with, the withdrawal process may manifest in a unique way.
Here’s a look at some of the more common detox side effects you can expect to encounter broken down into each drug category:
Alcohol detox side effects are some of the most dangerous of all detox side effects. The withdrawal process associated with alcohol can be extreme. The detox side effects are both physical and psychological, and alcohol possesses one of the only withdrawal processes that can prove to be deadly.
Many people can experience seizures as a result of their alcohol detox. Seizures can cause serious or permanent injury, or in the worst cases, death.
Here Are Some of the Alcohol Detox Side Effects You May Experience:
- Shaky Hands
- High Blood Pressure
- Delirium tremens
Opioids have extreme physical detox side effects. While this particular withdrawal process is not actually life-threatening, it can often feel like it. The intense drug detox side effects associated with opioids cause many opioid users to either continue using opioids even when they don’t want to or relapse within a few days of the onset of their withdrawal symptoms.
Some of the Detox Side Effects of Opioids Are:
- Muscle Aches
- Stomach Cramps
- Intense Drug Cravings
- Rapid Heart Rate
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Mood Swings
Stimulants possess unique drug detox side effects. Since stimulants are not what’s known as physically addictive, meaning the body does not develop an actual dependence on them, the withdrawal process primarily contains psychological symptoms.
Despite having no physical detox side effects, the psychological symptoms are extreme. Many people who are addicted to stimulants report intense drug cravings and such severe depression that they experience compelling suicidal ideations, which is why stimulant detox side effects should not be taken lightly.
The Detox Side Effects Associated With Stimulant Use Are:
- Slowed Activity
- Severe Cravings
- Inability to Concentrate
- Mood Swings
- Lack of Interest
- Suicidal Ideations
Benzodiazepines, or benzos, have a similar effect on the brain and body as alcohol. This means that the drug detox side effects almost exactly mirror those presented by alcohol. Benzos have multiple physical and psychological symptoms which can cause serious bodily injury and death.
These symptoms once again will include seizures. Your overall physical health prior to undergoing the withdrawal process plays a key role in the intensity and severity of your symptoms, as well as your recovery from the potential seizures.
Be on the Lookout for These Detox Side Effects:
- Suicidal Ideations
- Loss of Appetite
- Muscle Spasms
- Difficulty with Memory
- Impairment of Motor Functions
- Muscle Pains
- Restless Leg Syndrome
Sedatives are a classification of drug that includes different prescription medications and other substances such as sleeping pills, alcohol, and benzos. Typically, the term sedative is used in describing sleeping medications like Ambien or Lunesta.
Sedative drug detox side effects can also be very uncomfortable and dangerous. These symptoms cause people with sedative addiction physical and psychological pain. It’s important to manage these detox side effects with proper treatment in order to be medically stabilized.
These Detox Side Effects May Include:
- Heart Palpitations
- Abnormal Blood Pressure
- Lack of Appetite
- Delirium Tremens
The final category on our list of drug detox side effects is barbiturates. Barbiturates include Amytal and Luminal. A less popular recreational category of drugs, primarily due to their lack of availability since physicians prefer prescribing benzos over barbiturates, they still possess an intense withdrawal process nonetheless. Barbiturates are even more dangerous than their benzodiazepine counterparts due to their highly addictive nature and the ease with which someone may accidentally overdose. It’s also important to note that there is no barbiturate overdose reversal medications or procedures available, meaning there is nothing medical professionals can do to reverse a barbiturate overdose.
Some Of The Detox Side Effects You Can Expect From Barbiturate Abuse Are:
Find Freedom From Addiction Today
Are you or someone you love struggling with an addiction to drugs and alcohol? Let the experts at Arete Recovery help you. With a fantastic medical detox and residential treatment program, our addiction specialists can get you back on your feet.
Arete Recovery offers addiction treatment services. Our facility understands the multifaceted approach it takes to successfully and effectively treat substance use disorders, and our programs include dual diagnosis treatment, outpatient programs, and multiple different addiction therapy techniques.
We at Arete Recovery believe that proper addiction treatment should be readily available to everyone, and we work with different private insurance providers to make sure you can receive the services you need and deserve.
Our admissions specialists are standing by 24/7, ready to take your call and answer any questions you might have about treatment and get you started on the admissions process. By calling 855-781-9939 or contacting us online, you’ll be connected to our helpful and friendly staff members who can get you started on your journey in recovery today. Don’t delay; call and start living your best happy, healthy, and sober life with Arete Recovery.