According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than twenty-one and a half million Americans suffer from substance abuse or dependence problems. Regardless of each individual’s specific reason for turning to drug use in the first place or for continuing their drug use once started, the unfortunate fact is that while it can be incredibly fast and easy to begin using drug substances, it is usually very difficult and time consuming to resolve one’s drug abuse or dependence problems. If detoxing from drugs was a quick and easy process, it is logical to assume that far fewer individuals would suffer from substance abuse or dependence problems. Unfortunately, one of the things that can prevent many individuals from bravely stepping forward onto the path of recovery is suffering the effects of an improper drug detox, and then convincing themselves that since this is the only way out of their problems it just isn’t worth it to try.
Understanding Drug Abuse and Dependence
At the start of one’s drug use the individual often realizes that these substances can provide them with some temporary relief, should they wish to partake of it. However, it is important to recognize that drugs are chemical substances that are foreign to the body and therefore cause it to react–which includes the body learning how to cope with their presence. Over time, drug use can become tolerated by the body so that it doesn’t cause the same sort of dramatic reactions. Unfortunately, the individual who experiences drug tolerance considers this to be a very bad thing because they no longer experience the same desirable effects as a result of drug use.
When an individual is experiencing drug tolerance they may try to force desirable body reactions by consuming more drug substances more frequently. Again, the body seeks to protect itself from the effects created by these foreign chemical substances, and it may determine that the best way to do so is by incorporating drug substances into its normal functioning patterns. The body essentially grows to depend upon drug substances, constantly demanding more through intense cravings and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
The individual who experiences drug dependence truly feels that they have absolutely no control over their life and their drug use. They may wake in the morning feeling weak, sick and tired and decide that they will never use drugs again–only to find themselves getting high mere hours later. Such an individual needs extensive treatment in order to address the many physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of addiction, beginning with drug detoxification.
Dangers Inherent to Improper Drug Detox
Those individuals who do not themselves understand the many aspects of addiction may honestly believe that it is overcome by achieving and maintaining sobriety. Actually, the physical aspects of addiction must first be addressed through a drug detox, wherein the individual’s body is rid of all residual drug substances. This cannot be done, either safely or well, through simply abstaining from further drug use. In fact, drug detoxification done carelessly or improperly can be incredibly dangerous.
Depending on the type of drug that has been used as well as the length and amount of use, withdrawal can cause the individual to experience a wide variety of unpleasant symptoms, including seizures, irregular heartbeat, convulsions, headaches, mental confusion, vomiting, anxiety, inability to sleep, hallucinations, hot and cold sweats, depression, numbness, dizziness, memory loss, muscle aches, cramping, fever, diarrhea and much more. These symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to extremely painful and even life-threatening, and can last for anywhere from ten to twenty-one days. It is for these and many other reasons that drug detox should always be done properly, as part of a treatment program and overseen by a medical professional.
The Goal of Detox
The goal of detox is, of course, to help an individual rid their body of residual drug toxins and the damaging effects of these substances, as well as help them to establish the foundation they will need for a healthier, happier future. Through a properly-delivered detoxification treatment program, the individual’s physical condition should be stabilized and they should actually attain a state of physical comfort that helps them to further commit themselves to a sober future. There may be no way to make detoxification as quick and simple as drug addicted individuals desire, but when it is done properly it can be made as comfortable and smooth as possible.