Drug addiction takes a heavy toll on one’s body. When abused, drugs begin to alter the body’s chemistry. These changes register throughout the system – especially in the brain. Over time, chronic substance abuse can change the brain’s structure and rewire its neural circuitry.
As these physiological changes progress, having ever-increasing amounts of drugs in their system becomes the addict’s new normal. The addict develops a tolerance to the drug they are abusing and begins to crave ever-greater quantities of it to achieve the desired effect. The first step on the road to recovery is to eliminate these substances from the body in order for it to again function normally. This process is known as detox.
Detox – short for “detoxification” – can produce any number of painful side effects as one’s system goes through withdrawal from drugs and again adapts to functioning without them. The pain and discomfort that come when an addict tries to quit are a primary reason why individuals continue abusing drugs and alcohol. In some cases, withdrawal can permanently damage the body and even be fatal, depending on the substance.
Withdrawal symptoms differ depending on the abused substance and the quantities used over a given period of time. Symptoms usually start within hours of abstinence, and peak over the first few days. They may last a week or more. Symptoms of alcohol or drug withdrawal can include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Racing thoughts
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Diaphoresis (sweating)
- Tremor, shaking
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle tension, pain, spasms
Withdrawal from alcohol and benzodiazepines (a class of drugs that includes Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin) can be particularly dangerous. Side effects include psychotic episodes and life-threatening seizures.
Because of the risks associated with withdrawal, detox needs to be done under careful medical supervision. A patient’s stay at Sovereign Health of Texas begins with a thorough medical evaluation. This enables our staff to design the approach that allows patients to be treated in the safest and most comfortable way possible.