To recover from a drug or alcohol addiction, detox is a critical step. With detox comes detox symptoms, many of which can be unpleasant and even dangerous. In a medically supervised detox facility, symptoms can be treated and overcome in safety and relative comfort. Explore some of the most common symptoms to expect while detoxing and what can be done to mitigate or skip them entirely.
Some of the most common symptoms of a drug or alcohol detox are gastrointestinal in nature. The digestive system can be greatly impacted by the use of substances as well as quitting those same substances. Unfortunately, that distress can be severe. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to handle this discomfort.
Individuals that abuse opiate drugs have likely suffered from long-term constipation. Once detox begins, diarrhea often occurs. This can be painful, and it can lead to dehydration.
However, not all medications can eliminate diarrhea safely. For example, drugs like Imodium actually contain a small amount of opiates! This means only a medical professional should prescribe suitable medication for patients experiencing this particular symptom.
Dehydration is a common and often overlooked symptom of detox. Being mildly dehydrated is not a serious condition, but severe dehydration is a big problem. That’s just one reason why individuals should never try to oversee their own detox at home.
There are multiple factors that can lead to serious dehydration. To start, overheating can be an issue for many people. Regulating temperature is a challenge during detox, and sweating can rapidly bring on dehydration.
In addition, conditions like vomiting and diarrhea worsen dehydration. Nausea, as well, can make it difficult to acknowledge or respond to thirst. Together, these factors mean that many people in detox struggle with dehydration.
It is not enough to drink water and hope for the best. Severe dehydration can lead to brain damage or organ failure if it is ignored for too long.
Fortunately, there are several medical approaches to overcome dehydration. Instead of plain water, patients can sip premixed electrolyte beverages. In extreme cases, electrolyte IVs might be the best way to prevent critical dehydration and these are best administered in a professional detox.
The process of withdrawal puts stress on the body. In particular, it can be very stressful for the heart. During detox, it is common to experience symptoms like a high heart rate or elevated blood pressure.
These issues are relatively minor. If they are monitored properly, they likely won’t cause any permanent issue. However, some cardiac conditions can be more severe.
It is possible to experience a stroke during withdrawal, or even a heart attack. Although rare, these problems arise because the heart is shocked by the stress and upheaval of withdrawal. The best way to guard against these severe conditions is through careful, regular monitoring.
In a detox facility, patients will have ongoing medical care. This might mean regular checks for pulse, temperature and blood pressure. Irregularities can be identified quickly, and those at risk can get emergency medical attention right at the detox center as quickly as possible.
Muscle Aches and Body Pains
Withdrawal can manifest itself as pain within the body. That’s because certain substances increase sensitivity to pain. Once those substances are out of the body, that pain can feel severe. While this is just temporary, it can be unpleasant for the duration of the detox.
It is dangerous to take pain medications during detox without supervision. Certain medications may make existing conditions worse. In addition, patients could become addicted to strong pain medications, even if they are prescription.
Fortunately, medical experts in a detox facility know what to prescribe and what the dangers are. They can reduce pain without introducing new addiction risks. They can also safely monitor consumption of medications and taper off as needed to prevent any problems from occurring.
When a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, getting regular sleep is a challenge. During detox, that challenge increases or persists. Patients in detox might struggle to fall asleep, sleep all night long or feel rested. Fortunately, there are several things that can help overcome these sleep disturbances.
First, patients need to know that they have a safe, secure and comfortable place to sleep. It needs to be a room where there aren’t lots of people coming and going. It should be dark, and patients should know they are safe. Just solving this issue can help resolve a lot of sleep problems.
Patients should also eat well, preferably a low-inflammation diet without lots of sugar. This can make it easier to digest foods and sleep well at night. It also helps to stay hydrated.
Psychological problems can keep many patients up at night. Anxiety, worry over symptoms, depression or paranoia can prohibit sleep. Medical professionals can offer counseling or support to help overcome these issues.
In certain situations, sedatives or sleeping medication can be administered. Even magnesium, a standard mineral, can help patients to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Of course, all these options are monitored in a reputable detox facility.
Not all detox symptoms are physical. Existing mental health conditions may temporarily worsen during withdrawal. New conditions can also arise, although many will be short-lived.
In the long-term, psychological conditions like depression, anxiety or PTSD require treatment. Counseling and therapy, as well as medication, may be necessary for complete recovery. During a brief detox program, many patients need support and assurance. Simply knowing that psychological symptoms are normal and temporary can be a big help.
Severe Detox Symptoms
While rare, it is possible to experience severe detox symptoms. In an alcohol detox, patients may experience delirium tremens or DTs. This is a condition where hallucinations, seizures, and irritability are common.
Also possible during a drug or alcohol detox are convulsions. Strokes, heart attacks or organ failure are all possible, though unlikely.
At home, these risks increase, possibly to the point of fatality. Under medical supervision, patients can rest knowing that these severe detox symptoms are unlikely. Should they appear, help will be available within seconds.
Detox symptoms can be overcome, but not alone. You’ll have a safer and more comfortable detox experience if you opt for a medically supervised program.