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Understanding Detox And Its Importance In The Recovery Process

The detox process marks the beginning of an addict’s path to recovery. It is through a detox that the person can start with a clean slate, getting rid of the toxins and substances he or she was addicted to. As reported in

Detoxification is the initial stage that allows a person to stay clean,” says Dr. Nora Volkow of National Institute on Drug Abuse. “But that’s just the beginning of the road. And then the rest is what we’re going to call treatment and recovery – that process by which the person who has been addicted is reintegrated into society without the need of drugs.

Because the detox can be potentially dangerous it is important that it is medically supervised and controlled. When a person recovers from alcohol dependence the withdrawal effects may be so severe that they can cause nausea, delirium, an increased heart rate, seizures and tremors.

Detoxing And Withdrawal Side Effects

Generally, the withdrawal process from narcotics results in anxiety, agitation, hot and cold flushes, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. explains how detox is approached to start the heroin addiction recovery process:

The intensity of the reaction depends on the dose and speed of withdrawal. Short-acting opiates tend to produce more intense but briefer symptoms. The effect of a single dose of heroin, a relatively short-acting drug, lasts 4-6 hours, and the withdrawal reaction lasts for about a week.

No two detoxes are the same and depend on the person and drug involved. Heroin addiction recovery is usually best facilitated by using methadone, an opiate substitute, which is decreased over seven days.

Going Cold Turkey

There are mixed opinions about cold turkey or un-medicated detoxification. Some clinicians believe it is an option for everyone while others fear it is a dangerous thing to attempt. However, with the number of different options available, which can make the withdrawal process more comfortable, it makes sense to do so.

If you do decide to recover cold turkey, the side effects can go on for a few weeks and will need to be endured.

Antidepressants And Detoxification

Research has also been done with regards to antidepressants and how they can ease discomfort during detoxification for patients who also have mental health disorders such as depression. says:

The tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs, and BuSpar have shown some promise in helping recovering alcoholics stay sober. People with a bipolar disorder and substance dependency may find that recovery is easier if they use an antidepressant in addition to their regular mood stabilizer. Some doctors use clonidine or Tenex during drug or alcohol withdrawal.

In-Patient Detoxification

Because there is a risk that something could go wrong or become potentially dangerous it is highly recommended that detoxes are carried out under medical supervision. The benefits to doing this are that medical help is available, and the patient is in an environment that is geared towards helping to prevent a relapse.

Regardless of which method you choose, it is important to realize that your detox will go on for as long as the withdrawal symptoms are present and until your mental and physical state stabilizes.

It is also important to understand the role that relapse plays in the cycle of addiction. To a certain extent, relapse is to be expected; very few people are able to break their dependence on a drug successfully the first time around. It may take a few attempts at a detox before you are able to sustain sobriety.

Once you have addressed your physical addiction to the drug you would still need to look into the reasons why you started using the drug in the first place and start addressing the roots of the problem.


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