Imagination is a powerful thing, right? Managed well, imagination can jumpstart great potential. Untamed, it can run amok in our minds, taking us on a ride from one worst-case scenario to another.
When it comes to thoughts of entering a drug and alcohol detox center, your imagination might really take off—with the fear of the unknown spurring doubt and increasing anxiety.
You’re not alone. Many people longing for sobriety also worry about what it could take to get there and if it’s even truly possible.
Today we’d like to give your imagination a break—for a few minutes anyway. We’ll do this by talking about what you can actually expect from the detoxing process. We’ll cover the good, the bad and, yes, the plain old ugly of it.
And then, we’ll encourage you to engage your imagination again as you wonder, “What could life be like on the other side?”
Feeling Anxious About Detoxing? Let’s Talk About It
Let’s try a little exercise, shall we? Grab a notebook and a pen and do your best to turn your imagination off—and by that, we mean, don’t let your mind wander to new and frightening places.
Instead, let’s tap into some of the places you’ve already been. Take a few minutes to jot down some of your biggest worries about entering a drug and alcohol detox center. You might include concerns like:
- I’m afraid I’ll feel like I’m dying.
- What if it takes me longer to get through than other people?
- I can’t stand the thought of trying and failing to detox.
Knowing how our imaginations work, odds are that you’ve considered things we haven’t. Write your worries out—get them all on the page—and take a few minutes to read them over.
Recognize that our fears of the unknown are often tamed with—you guessed it—knowledge!
If you think back on key moments in your life, you’ll see that this is true. Your first time on a bike, first day at a new school, first time on an airplane or at a new job or in a new city—your anticipation or apprehension about a particular situation likely stemmed from whether or not you knew what to expect before you started. Right?
So today, we’re going to do our best today to address each of your anxieties about entering a drug and alcohol detox center by telling you exactly what you can expect.
And if you find yourself in need of more information—if you need help confronting a lingering concern—reach out to one of our friendly and knowledgeable advisors at 844.675.1557.
Discussing Detox: Let’s Call It Like It Is
Because people enter drug and alcohol detox centers with a unique set of circumstances, it’s important to note that each person’s experience will vary somewhat. Common factors that determine a patient’s process through detox include the substance that is abused as well as the length of time and intensity of abuse and any co-occurring disorders.
Still, we can point to two key hurdles every person is likely to face during detox: physical pain and emotional pain.
Maybe you just read those words and thought to yourself, “I knew it! I even listed those struggles as some of my biggest concerns about getting sober. I can’t do this.”
Deep breath, friend. You can do this. If you keep reading, you’ll learn what we mean when referring to physical and emotional pain. And you’ll discover how the right drug and alcohol detox center can help you work through the pain and find your way to peaceful sobriety.
The Physical Pain of Detox
When it comes to the pain of detox, you’re probably most aware of this type. After all, shows and movies tend to depict the withdrawal process in all of its gory glory. So we’ll start here.
Yes, it’s true; entering a drug and alcohol detox center means you’ll encounter some level of physical pain. (It also means you’ll be surrounded by medical professionals who are trained and equipped to help you manage this pain—but we’ll get to this point in a little bit). But it won’t necessarily match what you see on the screen.
Here’s what you might expect your body to endure during the detoxing process:
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble sleeping
- Little or no desire to eat
- Loss of concentration
- Nausea or vomiting
- Involuntary shaking
Again, remember that your symptoms will vary depending on multiple factors. You may not encounter each of these troubles. But now you know which ones you might face. Maybe you’re already more knowledgeable than when you started. That’s a good thing. Keep taking deep breaths as you read on.
The length of time that you’ll endure these symptoms varies as well. Still, the average person spends around 7 to 10 days detoxing drugs from their body. And most people detoxing from alcohol see the worst of it around hour 72—that just three days in!
The Emotional Pain of Detox
Ahhh, emotions—the less-considered pain of the detox process. Still, if we’re going to call it like it is, we’ve got to address the emotional side of drug and alcohol withdrawal.
People struggling with addiction—and, let’s be honest, just people in general—are also often masking some sort of emotional struggle. Maybe you endured childhood trauma or spousal abuse, and drugs help you to forget. Perhaps you have financial troubles that seem a bit more manageable when you take that first sip of alcohol. It might just be that your career, being a parent and “having it all” requires an unhealthy boost of energy or a way to relax.
When you enter a drug and alcohol detox center, you’ll forfeit your go-to coping mechanism but won’t be able to part ways with your past memories or your current situation in life. That’s when emotional pain may begin to resurface. You might find yourself with new or increasing anxiety, prone to mood changes and feelings of depression. Thankfully, the right drug and alcohol detox center also comes staffed with trained counselors ready to help you work through emotional pain and find new ways to cope.
Want a Best-Case-Scenario Withdrawal Experience? Choose Medical Detox
You now know the pain points you’re likely to face when you enter a drug and alcohol detox center. It won’t be pretty. But the process can be made more manageable with help from medical professionals.
Medical detox offers big benefits, including:
A Doctor’s Evaluation
As Healthline explains, being evaluated by a physician prior to entering substance withdrawal can help to shape your treatment and experience. The doctor at your drug and alcohol detox center will assess your vitals and discuss your medical history in order to develop a full picture of your current situation and determine the best path forward.
With this information, the medical staff can best prepare for and support your detox through an individualized approach.
Knowledge in hand, your drug and alcohol detox center can mindfully supplement your detox with medicine as needed. While these prescriptions won’t make detox a walk in the park, they do numb the harsh edges and reduce the more troubling symptoms.
You’ll also experience social support through peer group interactions and discussions—you’ll be talking with other people who know what you’re going through!
Remember those worries you listed earlier? This is where the benefits of medical detox really come into play. No matter what happens during the withdrawal period, when you’re going through it at a drug and alcohol detox center, you’ll never go through it alone.
If you’re working to detox from alcohol, for example, you’ll be observed by a doctor who can quickly compile a score for you on the Clinical Institute for Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol. This proven assessment helps medical professionals quickly determine whether or not a patient needs additional help to continue on their journey to sobriety.
Of course, detox is just the beginning. If you’re still with us—and we so hope you are, because we’re getting to the really good part!—it’s time to re-engage your imagination. It’s time to dream again.
Detox Is Just the Beginning: Imagine What the Future Holds!
Reaching out to an alcohol and drug rehab center might be a difficult first step to take, but oh my goodness, will it be worth it in the long run! After all, detox is where you begin your journey toward healing and wholeness.
Now is the time to ask yourself, “What could life be like on the other side?”
Because that’s where you’ll be at the end of detox. On the other side. Where you can receive extended treatment, develop healthy coping mechanisms and look forward to a brighter, sober future.
And—get this—if you begin an outpatient treatment program within one week of completing detox, you’re statistically more likely to live longer and to enjoy the benefits of mental health support in the years to come!
Take a moment to consider what you might do with a long and healthy life? What you might accomplish with a clear and steady mind? Who you may love and who may love you in return?
Imagination is a powerful thing. Go ahead and dream.
Addiction hurts you physically, emotionally and spiritually, but detox can be a solid first step to healing. We’d love to help you take that first step.
Give us a call today at 844.675.1557.
Written by Stephen Thomas
Contributing Writer with Promises Behavioral Health