When someone is addicted to alcohol or drugs, they will often need to go through a detoxification (detox) process as an important first step in their recovery.
Detox is based on the principle that someone who is physically unwell will struggle to tackle any underlying mental health problems. Therefore, the purpose of detox is to help the individual with the physical side of their addiction, so that they are prepared to address the underlying issues as part of an intensive addiction rehab program.
What is Detox?
Detox is the process by which all traces of alcohol and drugs are removed from the body, ensuring that a person is physically stable and ready to start therapy to overcome their addiction. It is not always a part of recovery but is often expected when entering addiction treatment.
Alcohol or drug addiction results in people’s bodies becoming used to having these substances in their system. When these substances are gradually reduced and removed during detox, the brain will have to adjust to the sudden drop in these chemicals. This typically causes people to experience a set of unpleasant effects known as withdrawal symptoms.
The detox process aims to minimize the negative impact of withdrawal symptoms and make the experience as safe and as comfortable as possible. The most effective form of detox is one that is medically assisted and supported by trained specialists. This usually happens within a specialist detox center or facility under the care of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Attempting to detox on your own is often unsuccessful since it may lead to unnecessary withdrawal symptoms. This results in the individual becoming demotivated.
Reasons to go to Detox
Let’s be honest for a minute. No one really wants to go to detox – at least not at first. For many addicts and families, detox is a scary thought. The word itself carries an overwhelming stigma, and the idea of actually going away to recovery can be equally (if not more so) overwhelming. For those battling substance abuse, going to rehab means leaving the comforts of home, and leaving the comforts of drugs and alcohol. It means asking for help. Most of all, it means change – changing habits, behaviours, maybe even their hobbies and friend groups. But as we all know, change can be good.
If you or your loved one is addicted to drugs, you very well know the resistance that often comes with addiction treatment. But more than likely, if you are here, you also know that treatment is the right next step. As described by the research, substance addiction is a complex disease that affects both the brain and behaviours. As a result, treatment is not simple: because addiction is a chronic disease, people can’t simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives.
A key reason people go to detox is because it is needed to heal – to heal their bodies, their minds, their hearts, and all that follows. Of course, this is not always the case. One youth treatment center in Ontario constantly encounters adolescents and young adults who are not ready or willing to recognize the extent of their drug problem. Often, their reasons for going to recovery are directly related to legal troubles, family troubles, or troubles with physical health. And this is okay. Over time, these young men and women find their own reasons to go (and stay) in their program.
If you are asking, “Why should I go to detox?”, or looking for reasons to push your loved one forward, you are in the right place. Below, the research explores some of the most common and worthwhile reasons to go to detox for a substance problem.
- Quitting drugs on your own can be dangerous. If you have been using drugs for a length of time, and you experience withdrawal symptoms when you are not drunk or high, you should detox in a supervised clinical setting such as an addiction treatment facility. Withdrawal from certain drugs can cause extreme and excruciating effects, such as dramatic spikes in blood pressure, insomnia, seizures, panic attacks, hallucinations, and severe dehydration.
- Detox can save your life. It is well-known that drug addicts and alcoholics have a shorter life expectancy than the rest of the population. Not only can it put you in dangerous situations, such as driving while intoxicated, but it can also cause severe health problems, including respiratory depression and fatal overdose. In fact, drug poisoning is one of the leading causes of death in Canada today – even more than motor vehicle accidents. As hopeless as you may feel right now, you have a life worth living. Going to recovery can give you the chance to do so.
- It can also give you back your life. Not only can detox save your life, it can also enable you to reclaim it and regain control over it. Living a life intoxicated isn’t living, and you know that first-hand. Drugs are chemicals that completely manipulate a person’s capacity for self-control. By stopping drug use and learning how to live without drugs, you can establish a new life full of sound decision-making, honesty, and peace of mind. You are also more likely to remember all of its little moments.
- It will teach you how to live sober and be comfortable doing so. A professional detox program isn’t just about getting sober – it’s about learning how to live sober. You will learn how to cope with difficult situations without the blanket of drugs and alcohol. You will learn how to set goals for yourself and reach them. You will learn how to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle, and to make positive changes in your life. You will also learn who you are without drugs and alcohol and learn to be comfortable with yourself.
- Detox can help you get to know yourself. As noted above, living sober involves learning more about who you really are, separate from your addiction. Addiction does not define you, but in your recovery program, you will start to uncover where it all began. You will gain insight into what caused you to start using and figure out where things went wrong along the way. Detox gives you the opportunity to step back and look at who you are, who you were, and who you have the potential to become.
- Detox can save your relationships. Going to detox should always be for personal growth, but there is another benefit – it helps those in recovery rebuild burned bridges and re-establish relationships that their addiction had torn apart. During your drug addiction days, you may have lied to your loved ones, taken money from your parents, or hurt someone very close to you. While these wounds take time to heal, an addiction treatment program can give you a clearer perspective on the detriment your addiction once caused. You can then address those in your life that you hurt and start to rebuild their trust.
- It can also help you build new, meaningful relationships. One of the best takeaways of a drug detox program is the relationships and support network formed within it. As much as you feel like you are the only one going through this right now, you are not alone. And in a recovery program, you find others walking in similar shoes, on the road to recovery. Through group counselling, peer activities, mentors, 12-step meetings, and other support groups, you will build meaningful, sober relationships with people who support your addiction treatment. And those relationships can last a lifetime.
The above-mentioned reasons do not just apply to those considering detox for the first time, but also to those who are seeking to regain their sobriety after a relapse. Whether this is a new journey for you, or the continuation of an existing journey, Thousand Islands Rehab Centre has a detox and rehab program that is just right for you. Give us a call for more information.