Common Symptoms of Detox: Psychological and Physical

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When you decide to seek help to overcome drug or alcohol addiction, the first step for most addiction treatment programs is detox or detoxification. The detox process can be challenging and complex and there are many common symptoms of detox; however, it is a vital step toward putting drug or alcohol addiction in the past. Before you can learn to understand and manage the emotions and behaviors that lead to addiction, you must be free of cravings and the other challenges that come with being under the influence of substances. Without completing detox, this is not possible. 


What is Detox? 

During detox, your body must learn how to carry out daily functions without using drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, learning how to function without substances can be an unpleasant and sometimes scary process when you are dependent on drugs or alcohol. When you are actively using drugs or drinking alcohol, your body, and brain change. Long-term substance addiction leads to physical and functional changes in how the brain sends and receives messages throughout the body. Without its substance of choice, cravings occur as the body believes it needs those substances to perform day-to-day tasks. During detox, drugs or alcohol are not available, which, in most cases, leads to withdrawal symptoms. 


Common Symptoms of Detox

Addiction is a disease that affects everyone in unique ways. The symptoms you experience while using and while detoxing will differ from those of someone else. Several factors contribute to the intensity and severity of detox symptoms. These include the type of drug you use, how long you have used it, and how often you used it. Although there are withdrawal symptoms that occur with specific drugs, some symptoms are commonly associated with withdrawal from almost all substances. There are two types of withdrawal symptoms, physical and psychological. 


Physical Detox Symptoms

When someone begins to detox from drugs or alcohol, they experience a wide range of physical symptoms. Depending on the individual and the nature of their addiction, detox symptoms will range from mild to severe. Although some people can manage many of the mild symptoms of withdrawal without intensive detox support, severe withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and life-threatening.


Examples of physical detox symptoms that occur for most people, regardless of their substance of choice, include runny nose, nausea, sweating, watery eyes, hot and cold flashes, muscle cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, appetite changes, dehydration, difficulty sleeping, agitation, restlessness, and difficulty with concentration. Some people may experience more severe symptoms, which can include body tremors, hallucinations, delirium, seizures, dangerously elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure, cardiac events, and respiratory failure.


Psychological Detox Symptoms

In addition to physical symptoms, detox can also cause several psychological (emotional) symptoms. Common examples include agitation, depression, anxiety, mood swings, and irritability. For someone who enters a detox program at a luxury rehab like The Hills in Los Angeles with a co-occurring mental health condition, the detox process may exacerbate their pre-existing symptoms. 


It is not uncommon for people to struggle with new or worsening mental health conditions as part of the detox process because many substances significantly influence the structure and function of the brain. Therefore, as you attempt to reduce or stop using those substances, your brain is required to learn how to operate “normally” without substance is present period this can lead to significant psychological challenges during the early stages of detox.


As mentioned above, specific substances lead to withdrawal symptoms unique to that drug. These substances include alcohol, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin. For example, when detoxing from alcohol, it is possible to experience specific withdrawal symptoms called delirium tremens. Delirium tremens or DTs cause potentially dangerous, sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, including severe confusion, tremors, rapid heart rate, dangerous seizures, and coma. Although delirium tremens only occur in a small percentage of withdrawal cases, the potentially fatal danger associated with their occurrence suggests the vital importance of medically assisted detox support.


It is also crucial to mention that detox looks different for everybody. The symptoms you experience when you enter a treatment program and begin your journey towards achieving sobriety will look different from those of someone else. This is true even if you both experience symptoms related to the same type of addiction. In other words, two people can enter a drug rehab program with an addiction to cocaine or heroin, but the experiences they have during detox will inevitably differ. Additionally, the time it takes overcome withdrawal symptoms and achieve sobriety through therapy and aftercare will also vary from person to person. The unique nature of addiction requires comprehensive and individualized treatment plans to ensure each person who seeks help to put drug or alcohol addiction in the past has the greatest opportunity for achieving success.


Why is Detox Support Essential? 

Regardless of their severity, withdrawal symptoms are typically a necessary part of the detox process for anyone who begins an addiction treatment program. For some, detox may be accompanied by mild withdrawal symptoms that are easily managed without significant medical assistance or intervention. However, the withdrawal process can bring about dangerous and even fatal symptoms and complications for others. Some of the more intense symptoms people experience during drug or alcohol withdrawal can rapidly become overwhelming and unmanageable if you attempt to detox alone, leading to relapse. This occurs with a greater frequency when detoxing from specific substances such as opioids and alcohol. 


Alcohol and Opioid Detox

Detox can lead to potentially deadly complications when trying to quit alcohol or opioids, including heroin or prescription opioids. While the most severe symptoms occur in a small percentage of cases (approximately ten percent), emergency assistance is essential to ensure safety. Emergency services personnel may not be able to provide emergency assistance in time when someone chooses to detox at home alone. Some of the more severe withdrawal symptoms that occur with alcohol and opioid detox can include severe psychological disturbances (psychosis), seizures, and delirium tremens or DTs. Acute alcohol and opioid withdrawal can also cause respiratory arrest, heart attack, and stroke. 


Detox and associated withdrawal symptoms vary widely from person to person, as does the intensity and severity of those symptoms. At an addiction treatment center like The Hills, where medically assisted detox is offered, you can expect full medical support and supervision throughout each stage of detox. Our detox programs also include (if necessary) medication administration to reduce the intensity of some withdrawal symptoms. Throughout detox, highly skilled medical staff will continually monitor vitals (including blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, and breathing) to ensure your medical safety and reduce the chances of an acute medical emergency during withdrawal. Medically assisted detox aims to provide physical and emotional stability while providing emotional support during the earliest and most challenging days of treatment. Once detox is complete, you will begin engaging in an addiction treatment program that includes therapy and peer support while working towards achieving lasting sobriety and recovery.


Get Help with Detox and Addiction Treatment at The Hills

Medically supervised detox programs at our luxury Los Angeles rehab provide the best and most successful path to achieving lasting freedom from drug or alcohol addiction. Participating in a supervised detox program ensures you have access to the best supports, evidence-based therapies, and holistic treatment models allowing the detox and addiction process to be as comfortable and successful as possible. 


Progressing through the stages of detox can take days for some or weeks for others, and the process can be challenging. But, with help from a medically supervised detox program, it is possible to safely and effectively manage your withdrawal symptoms, allowing you to focus on the most important part of detox, ridding your body of the toxic effects of drugs or alcohol. As part of a medically assisted detox program at the hills, members of our experienced, compassionate treatment team will work with you from the very first days of your treatment journey by developing an individualized treatment plan that focuses on your needs and goals. 


When you begin drug or alcohol detox, medical and mental health professionals will monitor each stage of withdrawal. At The Hills’ medically supported detox program, your treatment team will provide medical and emotional support to help you manage the most powerful and complex withdrawal symptoms. This may involve medical interventions to reduce the intensity of certain withdrawal symptoms, or it may include administering medications to help dull the pain and discomfort associated with detox. After detox is complete and you no longer experience cravings or other unpleasant symptoms related to drug or alcohol withdrawal, you will transition into a therapeutic treatment program.


During therapy, participation in group and individual therapy sessions will help you learn more about addiction and how habits like self-medicating medical or mental health symptoms can lead to drug or alcohol dependency and addiction. Therapy will also help you learn and practice safer, more effective coping tools you can use in place of drugs or alcohol when faced with triggering people, places, or situations in the future. 


If you or a loved one are ready to stop using drugs or alcohol and detox is the first step towards lasting sobriety, let the team at The Hills in Los Angeles help. Our treatment providers have years of experience helping people defeat the hold of drugs and alcohol with comprehensive, individually designed treatment plans based on proven, evidence-based therapy models. We also understand the unique challenges of treating co-occurring disorders. We are here to support and guide you and your loved ones as you seek lasting sobriety. To learn more about our addiction treatment programs at our luxury Malibu, California treatment center, call a member of our admissions team today for more information or to schedule a tour.

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