Detox 101

The first step in a drug and alcohol treatment program is the detoxification or detox process. No, this isn’t quite the same as an at-home detox to cleanse your body of toxins, but it is used to rid the body of any addictive substances. Trying to detox on your own at home can actually be a dangerous decision due to how the drugs and alcohol affect your body. You may experience withdrawal symptoms that are too uncomfortable to handle on your own, and ineffective detox can increase your risk of relapse.

Why Detox Matters

Before you can truly focus on your treatment and recovery, your body and mind need to be out from under the influence of drugs and alcohol. You need to get a fresh start and learn to function without these substances. Sobriety can allow you to put your energy and attention into what you are learning in rehab and really implement necessary changes.

How Above It All Supports Clients Through Detox

Detox can be uncomfortable and exhausting. Clients at Above It All receive round-the-clock care and monitoring as they go through the detox process to ensure a safe and effective experience. Addiction Recovery Specialists and medical staff can provide non-addictive medications to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and keep clients more comfortable. Staff also provides ongoing support and encouragement to motivate clients and reduce risk of relapse.

An effective detox program can provide a solid foundation on which to continue building throughout the recovery process. You will be able to start healing your body and mind and making healthier decisions for your future. Detox is just the first step of the journey, but it is a crucial one. It can set the tone for the rest of your recovery, so you want to ensure that you are in the hands of highly trained professionals like those at Above It All who want to see you succeed and move forward in your recovery.

[cta] If you’re ready to overcome addiction, don’t try to detox yourself at home – contact Above It All for safe, supervised care and comprehensive treatment. [/cta]

Coping with Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

One of the first things that clients experience as they’re going through detox and the early stages of addiction treatment is withdrawal. It takes their body time to adjust to no longer being on any addictive substances. This often comes with many physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea or vomiting, aches and pains, changes in appetite, tremors, or seizures. While this can be unpleasant, staff at Above It All can help clients to stay as comfortable as possible and minimize symptoms.

However, many clients do not realize that post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) can last for up to two years following detox. PAWS involves more emotional and psychological symptoms than physical ones. Clients may experience:

  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Difficulty coping with stress

These feelings can seem to emerge out of nowhere. But just as quickly as they come, they can pass. They may only last a few hours or a few days. Realizing that these episodes will occur and they are normal can help clients feel more prepared to deal with them.

When PAWS occurs, there are many ways that clients can push through these feelings:

  • Take time to meditate and try to clear your mind. Give yourself a chance to calm down and process your thoughts and feelings. Exercise can help too.
  • Keep things simple and do not overwhelm yourself with work or commitments. When you are going through a PAWS episode, realize you may need to step back. This does not mean veg out doing nothing, but break down activities into more manageable tasks.
  • Practice self-care. Make sure you continue to eat a well-balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids, and get adequate sleep. Taking care of yourself can help boost your mood and keep you going.

It can also help to talk things out in a support group. Recognize that PAWS will pass in time and doesn’t have to lead to relapse. Get the support you need for recovery at Above It All and overcome withdrawal safely and effectively.

[cta] Leave a comment and let us know some of your strategies for dealing with post-acute withdrawal syndrome. [/cta]

How Does Alcohol Damage Your Body?

It is no secret that alcohol is bad for you and your body, but many people do not understand just how damaging it can be. Drinking excessively can lead to long-term, sometimes irreparable effects on a person, which is why you should stay away from it. It is important to learn about alcohol and its negative effects, and what better time to do it than Alcohol Awareness Month? Here are just a few of the ways alcohol is slowly affecting your body.

  • Alcohol interferes with your brain activity, the central hub of your entire body. Drinking excessively impedes the communication flowing through your brain, which can affect your concentration, your coordination and your behavior.
  • Your liver, which possesses enzymes to break down the alcohol, is especially susceptible to alcohol damage after excessive consumption. Drinking too heavily can cause steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis. Although the liver is designed to heal itself, too much alcohol can eventually damage it beyond repair.
  • Your immune system starts to suffer after too much alcohol makes its way into your body. Alcohol weakens your overall immunity, leaving your body vulnerable to diseases. Chronic drinkers are often much sicker than those who do not drink, and even drinking on a single occasion can have negative effects on your immune system.
  • Alcohol takes a major toll on your heart as well. The more you drink, the higher the risk for cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, strokes, high blood pressure and multiple other heart-related diseases. Too much drinking can also trigger an irregular heartbeat, which could lead to a heart attack.
  • Finally, alcohol can increase your likelihood of developing several types of cancer in various areas of your body such as your mouth, throat and liver.

There are countless ways that alcohol can negatively affect your body and your mind, but it is understandable that many people cannot simply quit drinking. The best option is to go through a professional detox program. Fighting alcohol dependency can also affect your body in a negative way, so it is wise to seek professional help to assist you with the journey. The ultimate goal is to completely end your addiction with as little damage to your body as possible, and the best way to achieve this is with a caring and compassionate detox and counseling program. You too can start the healing process today, call the Above It All team to learn more about our alcohol rehab.

[cta] What other negative effects have you seen or experienced due to alcohol? Let us know below. [/cta]

Long Term Impacts of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a disease that affects millions of people. It has long term impacts on both individuals and their families. Even those who have recovered from alcoholism (and their families) will live a changed life long after sobriety.

A Life of Complete Abstinence

AA and similar programs promote lifelong sobriety. Those who are able to overcome alcoholism may always struggle with the temptation to drink. Complete abstinence allows the person to maintain sobriety and not be pressured to over drink. Someone in recovery from alcoholism will often learn to limit themselves socially and avoid situations like parties and events where they would be expected to drink. If they slip up and have just one drink, they face relapsing back into the disease.

Families of Alcoholics

Children and spouses of alcoholics often face a changed life as well. These individuals are more likely to suffer from mental illness, low self esteem, and trouble in relationships or with a career. Because of the impact of living with an alcoholic, family members of alcoholics are more likely to also abuse drugs or alcohol themselves.

For other family members, seeing the consequences of alcoholism makes them more determined to not become addicted to alcohol. Many children of alcoholics have taken it upon themselves to never drink, because they do not want to put their children or families through what they experienced growing up. They are afraid that if they take one drink, they won’t be able to stop, and will suffer the same fate as their parent.

Alcoholism changes people, and it changes families. Even after recovery, families may suffer long term effects. Those who make the commitment to remain sober and get the help they need will find that they can rebuild a life for themselves. The journey may be difficult, but families will be much happier and healthier without alcoholism.

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What is Social Model Detox?

The term Social Model Detox has a very specific meaning and refers to the primary phase of drug and alcohol treatment, in which the process of withdrawal from the relevant substance(s) is monitored, supervised, and managed without the use of detoxification medication. Social Model Detox describes a detox methodology and environment that is distinct from the Medical Detox Model  (which includes as a subset the Rapid Detox Model).

The primary concerns, according to the National Institutes of Health are:

  1. Is the social detoxification setting as safe for the client as the medical detoxification?
  2. Can alcohol withdrawal symptoms be treated in a nonmedical environment?

The 2nd concern applies equally to drug withdrawal symptoms.

Medical detox is indicated when withdrawal symptoms are judged to be potentially dangerous to the client, whether because of the severity of withdrawal or because of secondary or co-existing health conditions. There is a threshold beyond which safety to the client supersedes all other concerns, and it is mainly determined by the amount of alcohol or drugs consumed on a chronic basis as well as the length of time the dependency has been established. The more critical the physical dependency, the greater the risk of withdrawal symptoms posing physical danger to the client.

If the determination is made that the withdrawal process can be managed without medical intervention, social model detox is indicated as appropriate and productive in terms of cost-containment. When the addict or alcoholic submits himself/herself to treatment, the primary phase—detox, or removal of alcohol and drugs from the system—is managed through counseling and therapy.

Because the symptoms of withdrawal are so unpleasant—even when they don’t reach the threshold of requiring medical detox—addicts tend to defer treatment even when they desire to quit. The establishment of an atmosphere of professionalism, concern for safety, understanding, physical and emotional nourishment, as well as isolation from access to drugs and/or alcohol is the primary goal of social model detox.

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A Good Drug Detox Diet Can Help You Get Started in Recovery

By the time someone has developed a drug dependency to the point that they start considering treatment, their systems are out of whack in a number of ways, and a coordinated effort to realign brain function and metabolic function is necessary in order to establish a foundation for recovery. An appropriate diet during drug detox is critical.

As addicts give more and more priority to feeding their addiction, they give correspondingly less priority to life basics like showing up for work, grooming, and physical care. Nutrition often takes a back seat to convenience. Studies indicate that a malnourished body is more sensitive to drug cravings and to the negative effects of withdrawal, thus making the detox experience more difficult to endure.

Well-balanced meals, with regular scheduling, and nutritional supplements are recommended for any drug detox regimen. Properly nourished, the newly recovering addict is more likely to tolerate the ordeal presented by withdrawal symptoms, increasing his or her odds of completing treatment.

A good drug detox diet will include foods rich in protein, essential vitamins, and fatty acids, as well as complex carbohydrates and fresh vegetables. Although sugar cravings are common during the detox phase, experience clearly indicates that yielding to the desire to consume sugar (and caffeine) is counterproductive in the pursuit of early recovery. Part of this is because addicts by their very nature are not good at moderation, and sugar and caffeine in excess are disruptive to healthy brain function.

Also critical during detox is ample intake of fluids. Opiate withdrawals are known to cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, among other highly unpleasant effects, and loss of body fluids results. Although drug detox at home is not recommended, if it is attempted, hydration is critical, and Gatorade—despite its sugar content—might be a useful way to maintain body fluids and electrolytes.

Again, adhering to a planned and healthy drug detox diet significantly improves the odds of safely and effectively surviving the ordeal of withdrawal. Furthermore, it can help establish nutritional habits that will promote the kind of wellbeing that makes recovery feel worthwhile and worth maintaining.

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What Are the Dangers of At Home Detox?

Addicts and alcoholics are natural-born do-it-yourselfers. They habitually go about “doing things my way,” often with less than spectacular results. So it’s no surprise that many of them repeatedly try at home detox rather than submitting themselves to treatment. This has led to a burgeoning market in questionable remedies available on the internet.

The problem is that at home detox is unsafe and ineffective. The safety factor is paramount: unsupervised detox can lead to severe consequences and even to death. Symptoms of withdrawal from opiates, for example, include:

  • Nausea and cramps
  • Chills and sweats
  • Depression and/or irritability
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Extreme craving to recommence opiate use

Alcohol dependency is even more difficult to interrupt without help. Withdrawal from alcohol (as well as from benzodiazepines) poses even more acute discomfort and possibility of life-threatening complications.

Besides the consideration of safety, there’s the problem of effectiveness. The addict’s primary dilemma is being trapped in a cycle of obsession to use while not under the influence and a craving to continue once having started. If the cycle is interrupted, the obsession to resume increases in direct proportion to the discomfort the withdrawals cause. The addicted brain knows what it wants and gives priority to getting it; without supervision, the alcoholic or addict needs a tremendous amount of willpower to endure detox without help. Unfortunately, willpower, at least in the domain of substance abuse, is by definition exactly the quality that the alcoholic/addict cannot bring to bear on his or her problem.

Whether or not the addict needs full medical detox depends on the severity of their dependency (usually determined by the consistency and length of usage, and the dosage) as well as by the presence of co-occurring medical conditions. Most alcoholics and addicts can benefit from what is called “social detoxification,” which is defined as detox in a residential, nonmedical environment with trained staff, monitoring, counseling, and peer/social support. Government standards are provided for facilities that provide social detox.

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Detox: The Difficult but Necessary First Step to Recovery

Recovery from drugs and alcohol ­­­is a physical and mental process, but detox is the crucial turning point. Actually, submission to detox is the initial and critical surrender, but detox is, on a physical basis, the first step to recovery. Until the body is cleared of any substances that can affect the mind, little progress can be made. Unfortunately, detox can range from extremely uncomfortable to painful and even deadly. Addicts know this, and the addicted brain uses it as an excuse to put off any attempt at abstinence. The longer the addict uses, the more severe the detox, and thus the cycle feeds on itself and worsens.

There are cases in which medical detox is recommended. These would include times when the addiction is so deep (long-term and continuous large amount of consumption of drugs or alcohol) that a tapering strategy is untenable and possibly dangerous. Also, when complicating medical issues (co-occurring mental disorder, diabetes, coronary disease, etc.) are present, medical supervision and appropriate pharmacological intervention are appropriate.

However, many who suffer from alcohol and/or drug dependency can benefit from supervised withdrawal. Drugs are available to ameliorate the discomfort of opiate withdrawal symptoms, and titrating—a scheduled reduction in alcohol or drug intake—can be an effective strategy. The key, though, is supervision. Because the addicted brain views continued use of a substance as the solution to the problem of discomfort, it will—in the absence of supervision—give priority to finding and using the substance, and attempting abstinence or moderation will take a back seat.

In a proper treatment setting, the goal—after safety—in this first step to recovery is to minimize discomfort to the point where the addict or alcoholic can be coached through the experience, with emphasis on the fact that it is temporary and relief is on the other side. As a corollary, it is useful for the patient to be counseled that sustained effort in recovery is required in order to avoid having to repeat the experience.

Detox: The First Step In Drug And Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcohol and drug addiction detox paves the way for treatment by freeing a client from the physical effects of chemical substances. Going through this process creates a cleaner slate so that the real work of getting to the heart of the issue of addiction and why someone turned to substances to deal with stress or emotional pain can begin in earnest.

Medical detox involves helping addicts become clean and sober by providing a supportive environment during this process. Instead of giving up drugs and alcohol all at once (“cold turkey”), clients are able to wean off of them in a controlled manner. A detox program helps to keep him or her comfortable by controlling physical withdrawal symptoms.

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Opiates include morphine, heroin, Oxycontin, Dilaudid, and codeine. When someone who has been using the drug for some time stops taking it, he or she will experience some withdrawal symptoms. Early symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

As the withdrawal process continues, the symptoms may change and a person may complain of:

  • Diarrhea
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting

Detox centers are staffed by trained personnel who can monitor each client’s condition as they go through this necessary process. Supportive care is provided, and medications may be given to treat the anxiety, muscle aches, and cramping, if necessary.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually start within hours after the last drink is consumed. They get worse over the next two or three days and may persist longer in some instances.

  • Anxiety/nervousness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares

In some cases, alcoholics report feeling these types of symptoms while going through detox:

  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Heavy alcohol users should not try to stop drinking all at once. Instead, they should get help from detox centers in California so that their condition can be monitored. When the condition turns into a severe form of withdrawal called delirium tremens, it can lead to these symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe confusion
  • Seizures

Find an Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Center

The staff at Above It All Treatment Center can provide caring, supportive care to clients who are going through detox. They recognize that each person being treated at the Center needs to be dealt with as an individual, and that there is no “one size fits all” approach to treatment. The staff works up a treatment plan to address each client’s needs and goals during his or her time at the Center once the veil of chemical substances has been lifted and the focus can be put squarely on getting well.

Alcoholics, Addicts, and the Fun of Sobriety!

“We have shown how we got out from under. You say, “Yes, I’m willing. But am I to be consigned to a life where I shall be stupid, boring and glum, like some righteous people I see? I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I? Have you a sufficient substitute? Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.” –pg.152 A Vision for You from The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

After receiving alcohol addiction help most of us are surprised and pleased by the fellowship we find through sobriety, drug addiction detox, AA, and 30 day rehab programs. Many of us feel like we are never going to have as much fun as we have had in the past but the reality of the situation is that not only do we have as much fun but usually even more than before because its minus the unmanageability. We find a new joy and a new freedom. We come to realize that through sobriety anything is possible. As long as we take action, and stay sober we can do anything we want to. We are given the opportunity to create the life of our dreams and pursue different paths, paths that we haven’t until sobriety been able to pursue. Many of us had many dreams that just fell by the wayside because of our alcoholism but now we get to go and live life!