Detox is an essential step for any person hoping to put away the habit of drug abuse. However, the effects of detox can be serious and may vary depending on the drug of choice and the severity of the drug addiction. Many things change once a person’s body is exposed to drugs for a long period of time.
Neuroadaptation is a term referring to chemical changes in the brain. The most notable that occurs with drug abuse over a long period of time is known as tolerance. This is what drives addiction deeper and stronger as more drugs and higher quantities are needed to achieve the same high.
During the detox process, the first things challenged are the “neuroadaptations.” This includes the tolerance levels but also the physical dependence on drugs. Depending on which substance was abused, sudden removal of the drug can be fatal. Otherwise, two things can occur. The first is called abstinence. This is when the effects of the drug are reversed after directly stopping use. For example, heroin use causes euphoria, a decrease in anxiety, insensitivity to pain, and a decrease in the activity of the large intestine. When abstinence occurs for recovering heroin addicts, people become foul-tempered, depressed, anxious, stressed out, and overactivity of the large intestine leads to much more frequent bowel movements. The symptoms change depending on the drug that was abused.
The second avenue of detox can lead to withdrawal symptoms, and it depends on the type of abused drug. Withdrawal symptoms can be physical, including tremors, bone and muscle pain, vomiting, nausea, and other symptoms. Also common with many drugs are mental withdrawal symptoms, which can include depression, intense cravings, paranoia, anxiety, and helplessness. Both routes through detoxification can be intensely uncomfortable, and how long it lasts depends on the severity of the addiction. This is why detoxification is strongly recommended to be carried out in a supervised setting with professional medical personnel. This allows for safe detoxification and also provides the most physical and mental comfort possible. The length of detox varies depending on each case of addiction:
- The type of drug used
- The length of time of the addiction
- The amount the drug was used in
They all have an impact on the duration of detox. For many, the basic length starts at a week, and the most severe cases can take a month or even two before mental withdrawal symptoms fully pass.
The role that detox process plays in rehabilitation is an important one. Although it comes off as painful and difficult, it must happen, and a person must pass through it in order to get to the next step. After detox, the body and mind make considerable changes to get back onto the path of sobriety and healthy living. It is at this time that therapists and other supportive figures can help a recovering person make even greater mental changes.
It is the drive and determination which will make the difference in the end. As detoxification is only one of the beginning steps to recovery, it can take many trials before a person gets rehabilitation right and stays clean for good. Upon entering detox, it is important to remember the drive to change even when it becomes difficult. By doing so, you can be sure that rehabilitation will stick and things can change for the better.