For those of us addicted to substances such as alcohol, illicit drugs or prescription medication, ending our use of those substances can be the first step toward recovery and rehabilitation. Similarly, for those of us who are addicted to behaviours such as gambling, sex, gaming, work and love, ending our use of those behaviours can be equally daunting and this is the first step to recovery and rehabilitation.
This process is known as detox, and it can be a complex, challenging experience. When we become addicted, our brains are rewired to become dependent on substances and behaviours both psychologically and physically. When we stop using the substance, we can experience mild, moderate or even severe symptoms of withdrawal.
Symptoms may include intense:
- Craving for substances
- Compulsions to behave and use
- Seizures or blackouts
- Shakiness / tremors
- Flu symptoms
- Mood swings
- Extreme feelings of anxiety, sadness and despair
- Sleep disturbance
- Excessive sweating
The length of time it takes your body to detox from drug and alcohol and process addictions, and the intensity of symptoms, will vary depending on the substance and behaviours involved and on your individual addiction history.
In almost all cases, electing to undergo detox in a hospital or clinical setting provides the safest and most comfortable path through a challenging experience, and it also gives you the best chance of success.
It can be unsafe to detox in a medically unsupervised environment, and we advise you to seek medical advice before an at-home attempt.
Experiencing detox in a treatment centre or private rehab hospital such as South Pacific Private can also assist with treating the underlying psychological drivers of addiction, providing a supportive, drug-free environment where medical support is available 24/7.
It’s important to understand that detox is just the beginning of the rehab process, and that for sustainable, long-term recovery – and to reduce the risk of relapse – experts recommend participation in comprehensive treatment programs which can provide wraparound recovery and mental health support.