There are many reasons people with addiction may not reach out for help. For some it is because they do not even realise they are in trouble. They are convinced that they have full control over their drug use and will not even entertain the suggestion that they might have a problem. Others prefer to bury their heads in the sand because they are afraid of others finding out they have an addiction. They do not want to face the shame and embarrassment of telling others they are ill and would prefer to do nothing than get help. For some, it is the fear of detox and rehabilitation that prevents them from reaching out. They may have heard stories about how awful detox is, so they would rather not attempt it if it means they are going to suffer greatly. But the reality is that detoxification does not have to be a painful process. It is understandable that some people might feel scared or concerned about it and would want to know more before committing to a programme. So, if the question of ‘what does drug detox feel like?’ is one that has often found its way into your thoughts, read on; we aim to give you an idea of what to expect from this essential part of the addiction recovery process.

Why Is Detox Necessary?

Before we talk about what drug detox is like, it is important to consider why it is necessary and what will happen if the affected individual fails to address the physical side of their illness. For most, a detox is essential; this is due to developing a physical dependence on alcohol or drugs, so before moving on to treatment, they will need to get clean.

Overcoming addiction is vital to the survival of those affected. Addiction can be a life-threatening illness if left untreated. It does not go away if it is ignored, and without treatment it will just get worse. It is important that those who are affected by addiction are prepared to complete a detox programme if they want to say goodbye to their days of substance abuse once and for all.

The consequences of doing nothing could be devastating. Those who abuse illegal drugs are dicing with death almost every single day of their lives. Many of the street drugs available are not pure and are cut with dangerous chemicals that include rat poison and even laundry detergent. It is impossible to know what a street drug contains just by looking at it, and many people have suffered fatal reactions to drugs as a result.

The impact of addiction is far-reaching and is never confined to the individual, despite what many people believe. The old adage that the addict harms only him/herself is completely untrue. Addiction is known as a family illness in the addiction services field because of the impact it has on every single member. However, entire communities and even the economy are negatively affected by this illness, and without detoxification and rehabilitation programmes, the situation would be even more grave.

Where Does Detox Take Place?

Detoxification is a natural process that occurs when a person stops taking the substance to which he or she was addicted. It is generally recommended that those who are detoxing from illegal drugs should do so in a supervised facility because it is the safest place to do so. Nevertheless, there are some who would prefer to detox in the comfort of their own homes. While it is certainly possible to detox at home, there may be some scenarios where it would be inadvisable. For example, those who have already experienced severe withdrawal symptoms when in need of a fix, might not want to detox at home. These symptoms would include extreme tremors, nervousness, or hallucinations.

People with underlying medical conditions such as lung problems, hepatitis C, heart disease, or liver disease should avoid detoxing at home because of the risk of complications. In addition, those with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or who have previously had suicidal thoughts would be advised to detox in a supervised facility.

If one really wanted to detox at home, he or she could do so, but there are certain precautions that need to be taken beforehand. For example, the affected person will need to have a number of people willing to supervise him/her throughout the detox. Remember, a detox tends to last for around one to two weeks and the addicted individual will need to be supervised at all times. This will not be possible if the person had only one supervisor. He or she will need to be monitored even when sleeping, so a number of people willing to take turns will be necessary.

To ensure complete safety and comfort, we recommend considering a detox in a supervised facility. This is because the patient will be carefully monitored at all times and may even be prescribed medication to ease any unpleasant symptoms being experienced. In some cases, the worst symptoms can be headed off with the use of appropriate medication and supplements administered by a medical professional.

Detoxing from Drugs

The type of drug having been abusing, the length of time this drug was being used, and the severity of the illness will all affect how the detox progresses. Underlying medical conditions and mental health problems will also play a role in the type of symptoms that a person experiences.

In general, symptoms tend to range from mild to severe in intensity. Most affected people will experience mild to moderate symptoms, with a small minority being affected by more severe symptoms.

There is no doubting the fact that a drug detox is not a pleasant experience and that the affected person is likely to feel worse before feeling better. But what can be assured is that the individual will feel better. Once they have got through the first few days of the process, he or she will notice that many of the symptoms being experienced have begun to subside.

Almost everyone who is completing a drug detox will experience mood swings and sleep problems. Other symptoms can include:

  • headaches
  • abdominal pains
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • muscle cramps or twitching
  • shaking
  • sweating
  • hallucinations
  • paranoid delusions
  • intense cravings
  • diarrhoea
  • weight loss
  • high blood pressure.

While most withdrawal symptoms will ease up within a few days, there are some that will continue to linger for weeks, or even months. It is common for those who are detoxing from drugs to experience intense highs and lows that continue long after the detox programme has finished.

Medical approaches during a detox programme will depend on the needs of the individual and the type of drug he or she was abusing. Some people will be provided with replacement drugs in tapering doses to help ease the symptoms, while others may be given nutritional supplements to prevent the most severe symptoms from occurring.

If you are an individual in this position, it is important to be open and honest about your situation before entering a detox programme as this is the best way to ensure your safety throughout. You may be asked questions about whether you have ever had suicidal tendencies in the past, for example. If you have, be honest as this could affect the type of treatment that is used during the detox.

Remember, you are not the first person that the staff at the facility have helped. They will know all there is to know about addiction and how it affects people, and nothing you tell them will leave them feeling shocked. You will certainly not be the only person to have felt suicidal in the past because of their addiction. Nonetheless, the only way for staff to be able to fully help you is if they are in possession of all the facts relating to your case; and you are the only person who can provide these.

What Happens After Detox?

Staff at a dedicated detox facility will be able to help you get through this unpleasant process with as little discomfort as possible. For most, a detox programme will take around seven to ten days to complete, and there should be an immense sense of pride and accomplishment felt on completion.

However, your work is not done at this stage. You may be feeling on top of the world having been clean from drugs for a period of almost two weeks, and rightly so. Nevertheless, be warned, these feelings of elation rarely last. It can take a long time for individuals to get to the stage where they must complete a detox to get clean from drugs, so expecting to be able to overcome this illness in just two weeks is unrealistic.

The reality is that it can take a long time to recover from addiction, and detoxification is just the first step on the road to recovery. If you want to fully recover, you will need to follow your detox with a programme of rehabilitation. Detox is designed to deal with the physical bond between the user and the substance but it does not tackle the emotional or psychological issues pertaining to the illness. This is what rehabilitation programmes are for.

The good news is that there are many fantastic rehabilitation programmes in either inpatient or outpatient facilities where those with addiction can get the help they need to put their days of substance abuse behind them for good.

If you would like more information on the question of what does drug detox feel like, detox or rehab programmes, or if you would just like to speak to someone for more further details about anything related to addiction, please call us here at Oasis Recovery now. We will provide answers to any queries you may have and can offer details about our fantastic programmes that will help you say goodbye to addiction once and for all.