Whether a person is abusing illegal drugs or prescription painkillers, the results are the same. These substances overload the body with toxins and chemicals.that create cravings and withdrawal symptoms when the drug is withheld.  Unless the individual goes through a medically supervised detox, the chance of lasting recovery is unlikely. To better understand the importance of detox in lasting recovery, let’s take a look at what happens inside the body when drugs or alcohol are repeatedly abused.  Also, we need to understand the detox process and how it affects a person’s ability to recover.

Effects of Drugs or Alcohol on the Body

Each drug presents a different set of adverse effects on a user’s body.  Accordingly, each person reacts differently to these effects. So, what happens to the body when a person abuses drugs and becomes addicted?  

According to NIDA, this is how the most commonly abused substances create addiction:

  • Effect of Drugs on the Brain

Whether injected, smoked, eaten, or inhaled, the chemicals in a drug tap into the brain’s communication center.  They interfere with how nerve cells process, send and receive information. The substances can imitate the brain’s natural messenger chemicals (dopamine), or they can overstimulate the reward area of the brain.

  • How the Chemicals Cause a High

Most drugs affect the brain’s reward circuit which is responsible for feelings of pleasure or pain. The excess dopamine released during drug use creates intense excitement or happiness, otherwise known as a high or euphoria.  

  • Why People Want More of the Substance

After repeated use of a substance, the brain adapts to the surges of dopamine.  In some cases, the brain stops producing normal amounts of dopamine. When this happens, the person begins to crave more of the drug because they can no longer feel pleasure without it. This compulsive drug use starts a vicious cycle that only gets worse with time.

Continued drug abuse will result in a toxic level of these chemicals in the body which cause a range of health problems. At this point, the best chance for overcoming the addiction is detoxification followed by a rehabilitation program.

Understanding the Importance of Detox

Recovery from addiction is a complex process that involves physical, mental, and spiritual aspects that must be addressed concurrently.  Detoxification is the way to treat the physical aspect of addiction. During detox, the patient is monitored 24/7 by medical professionals because depending on the drug involved, detox can be uncomfortable and may require medication to help alleviate the withdrawals.

Some of the mental and physical symptoms an addict experiences during detox can include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Restlessness, insomnia
  • Headaches, dizziness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

Detox cleanses the body of all traces of the drugs to eliminate cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.  Studies show that attempting sobriety without professional detox usually ends in relapse. Ultimately, repeated relapse can lead to overdose or death.

Remember, detox is not a “quick fix” for addiction. It is the first step in a comprehensive plan to help a person achieve lasting recovery.  Once their body is free from the chemicals and the cravings have diminished, a person can think more clearly and can focus on healing the emotional and spiritual aspects of their addiction.  

What to Expect in Detox

Unfortunately, many addicts have a distorted opinion about detox, and this can keep them from seeking treatment.  To be sure, detox is not fun.  But, it is the most crucial step in overcoming addiction.  Here are the facts you need to know:

  • Patients must complete detox before they can receive proper treatment and counseling.
  • Medical professionals should monitor the entire process.
  • Duration of detox varies with each person, depending on the drug involved.
  • Some patients don’t complete detox the first time they try.
  • Millions of people complete detox, enter rehab and live sober, happy lives.

Depending on the extent of the addiction, patients can choose outpatient or inpatient detox programs.  However, the inpatient programs are highly recommended in most cases.  An inpatient facility provides a safe, drug-free environment where a patient can relax and focus on healing.

Learn More About Detox and Recovery Today

With the expertise of addiction specialists at Awakenings Rehabilitation, you can successfully overcome your addiction and move forward to claim the sober lifestyle you want and deserve.  If you are ready to get started on your treatment program, contact us today and learn more about the importance of detox in addiction recovery.  

Resources:

samhsa.gov – Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment

drugabuse.gov – Brain and Addiction

drugabuse.gov – Drugs of Abuse

 

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