Detox is the Frist Step in Recovery, but it Can be Dangerous
The road towards sobriety is a difficult one and the first step is detoxing the harmful substances from your system. This leads to withdrawal symptoms which can be so painful and difficult to struggle through that individuals may find themselves using again. In extreme cases these withdrawal symptoms can lead to permanent harm and even death. Everyone’s detox timeline will be different depending on the substances abused, the combinations and dosages taken, as well as how long the substance has been abused.
Withdrawal Symptoms & Detox Risks
There are a variety of symptoms an individual may experience during the stages of detoxification. The number of stages and how long each lasts is dependent on the substance(s) themselves. Symptoms can range from the following:
- Nausea & Vomiting
- Sweating & Hot/Cold flashes
- Flu-like symptoms
- Cramping & Body aches
- Insomnia & Lethargy
Severe / Life Threatening Symptoms
- Desire to self-harm
Complications can arise if you don’t have support while you detox. The process is painful and will leave you vulnerable, which some may be too proud to ask loved ones to witness. It can be difficult to ask for help, but it is the bravest thing someone can do. If you need us, we are here to help.
Dangerous to Attempt Alone, Too Dangerous to Not Attempt At All
The risks of going through detox and withdrawal symptoms alone are real, but so are the dangers of staying addicted to harmful substances. Overdose deaths are continuing to rise, as can be seen by this graph detailing drug-involved overdose deaths from 1999-2019 from DrugAbuse.Gov.
The pain induced by detoxing may lead to relapse which carries the risk of overdose. If your body has had enough time without the drug in your system your tolerance levels will drop. Then if a relapse occurs the dosage previously needed to achieve a high may now be lethal when ingested.
Medication Assisted Treatment for Harm Reduction
In cases where the risk of death while detoxing is too great, medication assisted treatment may be a way to wean your system off of harmful substances. MAT is recognized as a useful stepping stone towards recovery and a life of full sobriety. When paired with counseling, medication assisted treatment has seen success in helping people achieve sobriety who may not have been successful going cold-turkey. Learn more about Medication Assisted Treatment on the Family Life Center website and contact them today to learn more.
Nicole’s Story of Detoxing By Herself
On the street, we refer to withdrawals as dope sickness. There are numerous symptoms that come along with detoxing yourself: nausea, vomiting, sweating, muscle cramps, diarrhea; I had been using for 20 years of my life when I decided to get clean. I had tried many times before only to end up failing because I could not make it past the point of ingesting more drugs just to make the sickness go away. I had rather continue to use than go through the pain of withdrawal. I reached a point in my life where my insanity reached higher than my walls of denial and I became desperate enough to change.
Medical detoxification was not really prevalent back then. I did not want to reach out for help because I was embarrassed and ashamed of the condition I was in so I started the detox process determined to make it through this time.
Unfortunately, for me, that included substituting one street drug for another. I began smoking marijuana just to try and stop using methamphetamines. I am not sure how many days I slept. My grandmother told me for about a week. I would get up go outside get high on marijuana and go back to sleep. I barely remember eating. I remember drinking tons of water. I felt like I had the flu. I was lethargic, sweaty, thirsty, and my muscles ached and cramped so bad I could barely walk because my joints would lock up. I would take 4 Ibuprofen at a time because that equals a dose of prescription Ibuprofen for my aching muscles.
I remember taking high doses of Benedryl so I could sleep the days and nights away hoping beyond anything that when I woke up I would see the light at the end of the tunnel. One day my kids woke me up they were laughing and happy. They wanted me to get up and walk with them to the pond where we would swim. They wanted me to watch them swing off the rope. I managed to get out of bed and go with them. It was hot outside. We had a good time and it made my day to see their laughter. I almost did not make it back to the house because I was so weak from not eating and dehydrated. I remember pushing forward because I did not want to pass out in front of them and scare them.
It makes me want to cry when I think about it. Thankfully, we do not have to do these things alone as I did. I am one of the few that end up making it this way. It is dangerous to detox on your own. Not only is there a higher chance of relapsing back into substance use, but there are also health risks associated with detoxing without medical supervision.
You Don’t Have to Detox Alone
New Outlook Detox is here to help you through this difficult first step. You don’t have to make the attempt alone, let us help you and support you through the process, giving you a higher chance at staying sober.