For the drug or alcohol addict, the detox process can be hugely difficult. There is no doubt about it that addiction is truly a disease, and fighting it off can sometimes feel to the addict as well as their families and loved ones like an uphill battle. It’s important to note that the detox process should be done only under the supervision of a medical professional skilled, experienced, and knowledgeable in and about drug and alcohol addictions, ready to meet the medical and emotional needs of the patient.
In the United States (and in many other places around the world), drug addiction is anything but uncommon. In 2015 alone, more than fifty two thousand deaths were caused by drug overdose, and more than forty thousand of those deaths were directly caused by opioid overdose. Twenty thousand were related to painkiller abuse and more than ten thousand were linked to heroin use. Among the living, more than twenty million residents of the United States had what would be considered a substance abuse problem, with more than two million addicted to painkillers and more than half a million abusing heroin. These drugs are considered to be contributors to the opioid epidemic sweeping through the country, and the number of lives affected by them is rising.
Withdrawal can be by and large the most uncomfortable and often even excruciatingly painful part of common detox processes. Depending on the drug and the detox processes used, detox is likely to look different from case to case. Detox doctors should supervise the process and should be aware of any medical problems or even emergencies that may arise, particularly when detoxing from a severe addiction or certain drugs. Detoxing cold turkey from alcohol, for instance, can even lead to death in a severe addict. It will often lead to what are colloquially referred to as the DTs (or delirium tremens), which typically occur within forty eight hours (or two or so days) after the alcoholic’s last drink. If not treated and monitored, they can be life threatening.
For heroin users, a detox process will begin quickly because of the drug’s short half life. No later than twelve hours after the last dose, the detox process will begin. Some common symptoms include fevers, goosebumps (chills), and excessive sweating, among a number of other unpleasant side effects. Because the process of detoxing alone has a relapse rate as high as ninety five percent, it is recommended that a home detox should not be attempted unless it is truly your only option. While the most major of the detox symptoms will dissipate more quickly if the drug is not used again, long lasting detox symptoms can include insomnia and chronic anxiety problems. Depression is also not uncommon.
There are a number of ways that these symptoms can be mitigated (if not entirely eradicated). For one, methadone and suboxone are viable treatment options for meth and heroin users. These drugs help to replace the addictive substances in their body without creating the mental high. Many people will wean off of these prescription medications, but some will not and will remain on them indefinitely. These drugs can be lifesaving, preventing relapse and overdose by satisfying the physical addiction.
However, there are other methods of drug treatment. For instance, regular therapy is very much recommended and a rehab program is often necessary in a number of different types of cases. An emotional support animal may also be a viable option, as they can typically be brought into many places that animals are not allowed, providing near constant support and reassurance.
There is not a doubt about it that drug addiction is tough – and even more difficult to fully kick. However, a detox process is not impossible when the patient is provided with the proper support system, from family members and loved ones to a dedicated medical staff (often found in a treatment center). Life is possible after drug addiction, and it is important for addicts to know that the withdrawal period, while hugely unpleasant, is not going to last forever. It is important to detox under the watch of medical professional, however, as detox processes often lead to relapse in and of themselves.
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