A lot of people get nervous about the first steps into drug addiction treatment. It’s understandable – the unknowns about the process can make a person feel a little frightened or intimidated, worrying about what to expect. Sometimes, these worries are enough to make a person give up on the idea of rehab altogether.
This can be particularly true when it comes to the detox process. Many rumors are floating around about the discomfort and risks of the detox process, and many of these rumors center around severe physical pain or nausea while others involve intense cravings for the drug or even psychiatric effects of stopping drug use. However, with medical support through a detox program and personal advanced preparation, the detox process can be easier than most people think.
Preparing for Detox
When a situation makes a person nervous, often the best thing the person can do is to learn about how to deal with that situation. Getting ready for the detox process is similar. While it is not at all required for the person to prepare for the process, some degree of preparation can calm the individual and make the experience easier.
In the case of detox, an easier process often leads to more positive outcomes and less likelihood of returning to drug use in the middle of withdrawal. The steps of preparation for detox that can help with this include:
- Get support.
- Get information.
- Get nutrients.
- Get rehab.
- Get motivation.
The following describes these steps in greater detail to help the individual get ready for drug detox and treatment.
One of the greatest tools an individual can have during detox is support from friends and family. This kind of support can provide cheerleading and positive reinforcement even if things get tough during detox and subsequent treatment. As described by Psych Central, it is often the support of family and friends that helps the individual make a decision to seek and stick with addiction treatment, which can result in a greater chance of achieving and sustaining recovery.
For this reason, it is important for the individual to gather support from loved ones and to be willing to draw on that support as needed. In addition, the individual should coordinate with a work manager or other trusted leader who can help the individual schedule a leave of absence or otherwise deal with the effects that going through detox can have on the job.
Knowing what to expect can make entry into detox a lot less nerve-wracking. In fact, when people have a more realistic understanding of what the detox process is like, they tend to feel much more confident about it, are able to get through it more smoothly, and come out the other side of detox with a mind ready to dive into the real work of addiction treatment.
There are a number of processes that can make the detox process more comfortable, including methods of detox that are designed to minimize withdrawal symptoms and cravings. These processes include:
- Medial detox support
- Direct tapering
- Substitution tapering
- Titration tapering
Depending on the drug being used, the duration and intensity of the drug abuse, and the individual’s specific mental and physical health concerns, one or more of these methods can be used to keep uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms to a minimum and get the individual through detox with a lower risk of relapse to drug abuse. Researching or asking treatment professionals about these and other detox methods can help to put the individual’s mind at ease about the process.
Both drug abuse and the detox process can deplete a person’s nutritional resources. The damage drug abuse causes in the body often requires a higher level of nutritional support to overcome; at the same time, abusing drugs often results in changes in appetite that mean the individual is taking in fewer valuable nutrients.
Studies like those summarized in an article from Today’s Dietitian have shown that eating a healthy diet can make detox easier by helping to mitigate the loss or damage to neurotransmitters that occurs as a result of malnutrition during drug abuse. Planning healthy, nutritious meals can help the detox process quite a bit, and getting a jumpstart on this process before detox can improve the individual’s experience of withdrawal.
As emphasized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, detox is not the only element of substance abuse treatment. Many people feel that once they stop using the drug, it will be easy to turn down such use in the future. However, even a successfully completed detox process can leave the individual feeling cravings, and any encounter with a trigger that increases these cravings can lead the individual to relapse into drug use without realizing it and without wanting to.
This is because addiction isn’t a moral failing or a lifestyle choice; it is a brain disease, as described by the Association of Substance Abuse Medicine. As a chronic psychiatric disorder, similar to any chronic medical condition, addiction needs to be treated on a regular basis in order to be kept under control. This is how recovery is attained.
In order to achieve this state of treatment, addiction treatment experts like the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommend that an individual entering detox have a professional, research-based treatment program available to enter immediately after withdrawal. Then, the person can smoothly move from withdrawal into learning to manage the addiction, including how to apply tools and techniques to prevent relapse.
According to research, one of the most important factors in a positive treatment outcome is the individual’s motivation to achieve and stay in recovery. Studies such as those discussed in Advances in Medical Sociology seem to demonstrate that motivation improves the chance that a person will get through detox and treatment, while lack of personal motivation can hinder the treatment process and lead to relapse.
Keeping reminders of the reasons that the person has decided to begin detox and treatment can help to maintain motivation. There are also therapies in reputable treatment programs that can help individuals keep their motivation high and continue to aim toward recovery. In many cases, these tools in rehab can provide a deeper level of motivation to get through detox and treatment than the person is able to muster alone or outside a treatment setting.
Of course, there’s only so much planning and preparation an individual can do. Over preparation can keep the individual from actually taking the steps to get into detox and rehab programs. So, while these steps are all important to helping the individual prepare for the detox process, it is also important to take the next step: enter and complete the detox program, get addiction treatment, and get ready for a future in recovery.
Working with a professional, certified treatment program can help in this part of the process greatly. The experts in these programs can provide sources of support, information, health and nutrition, addiction treatment therapies, and motivational tools to prepare the individual to complete the detox process and move forward into treatment.