The day that someone accepts help for their addiction is a pivotal moment in their life. Addiction treatment is the first step toward a successful recovery — but before a person can enter a rehab center, he or she must often go through detox.
During drug detox, the individual gets all addictive substances out of their system. This is important because it allows the patient to fully focus on their recovery, and it also keeps the rehab environment safe for all participants. In fact, many treatment facilities require patients to detox before they can be admitted.
While detox is an important part of recovery, it is definitely not an easy or comfortable experience. Many people experience withdrawal symptoms during this period, and these symptoms can make them uncomfortable, ill, and irritable. In some cases, detox and withdrawal can even be life-threatening (though we should point out that detox is far less dangerous than continuing to use drugs or alcohol).
Luckily, it is possible to have a safe and comfortable detox experience. There are many rehab centers specifically designed for people to detox under medical supervision and with supplements for detoxing that can help manage their symptoms. Let’s take a look at these supplements for detox and how they can help you or your loved one during withdrawal.
What is Withdrawal?
Withdrawal is a physiological and psychological response to abruptly quitting a substance to which you’ve become addicted.
When someone has become dependent on drugs or alcohol, their body responds by adjusting to account for the substance’s presence in their system. For example, the brain may produce less dopamine in someone who is addicted to opiates, as it is accustomed to the drug attaching to the brain’s pleasure center. Once the individual stops using opiates, however, the brain continues producing dopamine on a lower level. This can result in withdrawal symptoms like depression, fatigue, muscle aches, and much more.
Specific withdrawal symptoms and their intensity vary based on many factors, including the drug the person is detoxing from and how long they’ve been using. However, there are some common symptoms you can expect during detox and withdrawal. These include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Poor concentration and memory
In some cases, detox and withdrawal can become very dangerous. This is particularly true for substances like alcohol, opiates, and benzodiazepines, which often cause more intense withdrawal. In these cases, there is a greater risk of seizures or even death; for example, a study from the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism reported that 6.6% of patients hospitalized for alcohol withdrawal syndrome at a hospital in Spain died due to their condition.1
Even individuals who successfully detox can suffer from lingering side effects. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a condition in which people undergo psychological changes after detoxing from an addictive substance. People with PAWS may have trouble with memory or cognitive tasks, may be more irritable than they were before withdrawal, and can even develop conditions like OCD or depression.
The potential risks of detoxing are admittedly overwhelming. However, they should never be a reason for someone to avoid detox; instead, they should be a reason to detox safely.
Better Addiction Care can help you find a treatment center that specializes in detox and withdrawal. If you endure withdrawal with a strong support network, a team of medical professionals, and the right supplements for detox, you will be able to get through this process safely and begin your rehab journey on the right foot.
The Best Remedies for Drug Withdrawal
If you or someone you care about is going to detox, it’s natural to want to do everything you can to help. Unfortunately, the illness and discomfort of withdrawal are inevitable — but you can minimize those symptoms with some helpful remedies. Here are a few tips and supplements for detoxing that you can try to make the process a little easier.
Many symptoms associated with withdrawal are also associated with illnesses like the common cold or flu. Therefore, it is possible to find some relief from the same over-the-counter medications that treat these symptoms.
Individuals suffering from fever, chills, or aches (common withdrawal symptoms) can use NSAIDs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen to reduce these symptoms. People dealing with diarrhea (very common with opioid withdrawal) might want to use an OTC product like Immodium. If they’re feeling nauseated, they can opt for the drug Zofran, which researchers at Stanford University found was effective in calming nausea in mice going through opiate withdrawal.2 Some research even suggests that vitamins can help reduce withdrawal symptoms for some substances; for example, there is some evidence that zinc is a useful supplement for alcohol detox.3
OTC medications can be useful supplements for detox, but it is important to remember that a person going through withdrawal should not take anything without supervision. If you are planning to use OTC medication to manage detox symptoms, make sure you talk with a detox specialist (ideally at a detox center) first to confirm that the product is safe to take at that time.
Complementary and Alternative Medicines
Some individuals may not want to use medication during detox. In these cases, they may turn to complementary and alternative medicines (CAM). These include herbal supplements, treatments like acupuncture or massage, and other alternative options that claim to help with pain.
While there is not much evidence to support the benefits of CAM for withdrawal, some research claims that these methods offer some level of relief. For example, a double-blind study on the Chinese herbal supplement Tai-Kang-Ning found that it was a safe and effective option for managing acute heroin withdrawal.5
Similarly, a study on the efficacy of acupuncture during detox found that body acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and bilateral needling all reduced cravings and withdrawal symptoms to some degree.4 While the study author did concede that more research was needed, this information could be promising for individuals looking for a non-medicinal way to treat their withdrawal symptoms.
The supplements for detoxing we’ve discussed work to relieve the physical symptoms of withdrawal. However, that is only half the battle. Some of the most difficult withdrawal symptoms are psychological, like depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Therefore, managing these symptoms requires work that cares for your mental health.
Some detox specialists recommend that people write down a list of reasons why they want to get sober. The person can refer to this list throughout detox (as well as during inpatient and outpatient care) and use it to motivate them to continue with the process. This is very important, as research shows that motivation is a key element in recovery success.6
Can You Detox on Your Own?
It is not recommended to detox at home. Detoxing can be a very difficult and dangerous process. This is why most experts recommend visiting a detox center to start your recovery journey.
What to Expect from a Detox Center
There are many rehab centers that focus on helping patients detox in a safe environment. These are usually called detox centers. Patients live at these facilities for the duration of their detox (which can last anywhere from a few days to two weeks), where they receive round-the-clock care from medical professionals.
When a patient enters a detox center, the staff there will assess their current condition and health history. Looking at the patient’s current state, as well as whether or not they have any other health complications, will help determine the next steps for their care.
If the patient is suffering from withdrawal symptoms, the staff may recommend supplements for detoxing like anti-nausea medication or anticonvulsants. If the symptoms are extremely severe, or if the patient experiences complications like a seizure, the staff can provide urgent care to keep the patient safe.
Medical assistance and supervision are primary aspects of detox treatment, but they are not the only thing patients do in these facilities. Detox centers often also introduce patients to group therapy and individual counseling. This helps the patient transition into inpatient or outpatient rehab once they are fully detoxed. Most professionals will recommend that patients enroll in an inpatient treatment facility after detoxing, but rehab is always an individualized journey that can vary.
When you call Better Addiction Care, our team can help you find a detox center near you. These rehabs are a foundational part of addiction treatment, and they can be instrumental in helping you succeed in rehab later on.
Get Help Today with Better Addiction Care
The support of friends, family, and rehab professionals is key to recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. Better Addiction Care wants to be part of your support team! Give us a call today, and we’ll help you find rehab locations near you that can help you or a loved one through detox, treatment, and beyond.
Our treatment advisors are always standing by, and calls are always free and confidential. We can help you decide between inpatient vs. outpatient rehab treatment, find a facility that accepts your insurance, and much more.
If you or someone close to you are struggling with an addiction, know that we are here to help. With a little care from an addiction treatment center, you can fight this condition, start working toward recovery, and change your world for the better.
- Monte, R. et. al. (2010, January 13) “Analysis of the Factors Determining Survival of Alcoholic Withdrawal Syndrome Patients in a General Hospital.” Alcohol and Alcoholism. Retrieved March 23, 2022 from https://academic.oup.com/alcalc/article/45/2/151/134927
- Chu, L. et. al. (2010, March 1). “From mouse to man: the 5-HT3 receptor modulates physical dependence on opioid narcotics.” Pharmacogenetics and Genomics. Retrieved March 23, 2022 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2730361/
- Menzano, E. et. al. (1994, August). “Zinc deficiency and corticosteroids in the pathogenesis of alcoholic brain dysfunction–a review.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. Retrieved March 23, 2022 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7978102/
- Kang, L. et. al. (2008) “Tai-Kang-Ning, a Chinese herbal medicine formula, alleviates acute heroin withdrawal.” American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Retrieved March 23, 2022 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18428069
- White, A. (2013, May 10). “Trials of acupuncture for drug dependence: a recommendation for hypotheses based on the literature.” Acupuncture Medicine. Retrieved March 23, 2022 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23665887
- Hong, P. et. al. (2021, December 30). “How to Enhance the Motivation for Drug Detoxification: Consciousness Guidance and Behaviour Restriction of Family Intergenerational Ethics.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. Retrieved March 23, 2022 from https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/19/1/366/pdf
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