How To Help Someone Detox From Alcohol
By Midwest Detox Staff
Whether you’re an addict, living with an addict, or the loved one of an addict, you've either heard or said the words, “Don’t worry, I’ll just stop using”. If only it were that simple. You may think you know how to detox from drugs at home and that your willpower is strong enough, but you run the risk of relapsing because the withdrawal symptoms are so intense. These intense withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous and land you in the hospital, or worse.
Addiction is a sickness, and like other serious illnesses, medical assistance and supervision is necessary in order to beat it. Detox centers exist to provide a safe haven for this first and critical step of addiction recovery.
What Is Drug Detox?
Drug detox is the process your body will go through when you stop taking drugs. Prolonged drug use causes your brain and body to adapt and get used to the substances introduced. Drugs affect the body’s central nervous system and influence how a person thinks, feels and behaves. While different types of drugs will have varying influences, the end result is generally the same - the person no longer knows how to function without said drugs in their system.
Not only does the person not know how to function without their drug of choice fueling them, their body can literally fail them due to the sudden change. For example, opioids like heroin and painkillers affect the brain neurotransmitter known as dopamine. Dopamine creates a sense of euphoria in the brain. After long-term use, the brain no longer knows how to create dopamine on its own and relies on the drug to produce it.
Generally speaking, whatever effect the drug has on your system, the opposite effect will occur when detoxing. For instance, if Vicodin slows down your digestive system and causes constipation, stopping will cause gastrointestinal upset. During the detox process, your body essentially has to relearn how to function at its normal level without the assistance of whichever drugs it became used to.
Drug Detox Withdrawal Symptoms
The amount and severity of drug detox withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person. There are many factors that contribute to how intense someone’s detox might be. Duration of drug use is a key component. The longer you have been abusing drugs, the more your system no longer knows how to function without them. In the same vein, the amount of drugs consumed will greatly affect the detox process, likely making it more severe.
There are many other factors that will affect the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. The type of drug that has been abused will play a major role. Opioids, cocaine, methamphetamines, and heroin all affect the body in very different ways. Therefore, when experiencing withdrawal from them, while many of the side effects may be similar, they will still differ. Detox symptoms will generally be more severe from intravenous drug use, which includes snorting, smoking, and injecting, versus oral drug use. Physical and mental health, family history, and age also all play a role in the amount and severity of drug withdrawal symptoms.
Regardless of all these factors, there is still a general timeline and standard symptoms for the drug detox withdrawal process. The first thing you can expect to experience is what is known as “the comedown”. This is when the effects of the drugs on your system begin to diminish and your brain chemistry starts to return to normal. For some people, the comedown can be slow and gradual and last a couple of days. For others, the comedown can feel immediate and intense, like your system is crashing.
You will then start to experience the actual drug withdrawal symptoms. However, without the help of a detox center and addiction specialists, many people don’t even make it past the comedown stage. Drug withdrawal symptoms include both physical and mental symptoms. Physical symptoms include nausea, heart palpitations, shivering, restlessness, headaches, fever, insomnia, and excessive sweating. Mental symptoms include paranoia, anxiety, depression, agitation, panic attacks, and an intense craving for the individual’s drug of choice.
Most severely, symptoms can progress to seizures and delirium tremens. This is when the person experiences a clouding of consciousness and the onset of deliriousness. Symptoms of delirium tremens also include severe agitation, a change in mental status, and seizures.
While each individual's withdrawal timeline may vary slightly, they generally follow the same pattern. The first withdrawal symptoms occur within 24 hours of the person’s last drug intake. Symptoms will continue to gradually increase in severity, with the peak usually being at the 48-hour mark. It is during the 48-72 hour time frame when an individual is most at risk for seizures and delirium tremens. Within roughly 7-10 days, the body will complete the detox process.
The Dangers Of Detoxing From Drugs At Home
Due to the nature and severity of drug withdrawal symptoms, it is imperative that the detox process be done in a safe space. There are many dangers of detoxing from drugs at home. The first danger is that without the proper support and guidance in place, many will be unable to make it past the comedown stage. In their home environment, the ability to just get a fix and feel better can be too easy and too overwhelming to withstand.
Even worse, the potential for relapse can often lead to an accidental overdose. Since the detox process has already begun, the body has started to regulate back to normal, resetting its chemical levels and its drug tolerance. This means that whatever drug dosage the person used to take and could handle might now be a fatal dose that their body can no longer tolerate.
Mental health is another key factor in the detox process. Paranoia, depression and agitation can put the individual at risk for suicide. Without the proper support system in place and without drugs to counteract whatever symptoms the person may be suffering from, ending one’s life may seem like the only feasible solution.
Last, but certainly not least, physical health is a major component in the detox process. Physical withdrawal symptoms can escalate suddenly with no warning at all, resulting in seizures and psychotic symptoms. Any pre-existing health conditions can also become more severe due to the rising toll on the body. Medical supervised detox ensures that necessary monitoring and treatment can be provided. Home remedies will not do the trick when dealing with such severe symptoms.
How To Safely Detox From Drugs
Given the dangers of detoxing from drugs at home, the best way to detox from drugs is at a drug detox center. At Midwest Detox, we provide a safe and controlled environment for our patients to undergo the detox process. Our trained professionals will be with you every step of the way, from navigating the comedown to dealing with the mental and physical drug withdrawal symptoms.
Our state of the art facility makes us one of the premier drug detox centers in the Wisconsin area. Designed by experts in the field, we pride ourselves on our two-pronged approach of quality medical care and therapeutic care, with both clinical and holistic treatments provided.
We understand that the journey is a difficult one. It is our goal to make it as comfortable, safe, and effective as possible. Our staff includes addiction and mental health specialists who will personally oversee your detox process. Under careful monitoring, we can keep you safe and set you up for success in the path to your addiction recovery.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Reach out to Midwest Detox at 414-409-5200 or send us a message today.