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Making Drug Detoxification Easier

woman with drug detoxification problems

Getting off – and staying off – drugs is never easy. Some addicts find their fear over the side effects of drug detoxification reason enough never to try. If you, or someone you love, is suffering from the debilitating effects of withdrawal, take heart. There are ways to reduce their discomfort and get through those first days and weeks, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCOADD).

The first step, says to the Rehabilitation Centers of the U.S., understanding the detoxification process, and the reasons why some addicts may suffer its nasty side effects. There are a wide range of withdrawal symptoms an addict may experience, according to the center.

They can range from insomnia, both hot and cold flashes, anger, depression, muscle and bone pain, restlessness, flu-like symptoms (running nose, coughing wheezing, chills), headaches, vomiting and other gastrointestinal distress, among others. What side effects an addict suffers – and their severity – depends a great deal on how long it takes their individual body to rid itself of the toxins. It also depends on the types of drugs that have been abused, as well as how long the addict has been using. Different drugs affect the mind and body differently. Some of the most common side effects reported by the NCOADD, and ways to ease their discomfort include:

Sleeplessness may be considered one of the worst side effects of drug detoxification, according to some users. The body’s inability to calm the nervous system and fall into a deep restful sleep leaves an already edgy and exhausted sufferer even more dependent on sleep for healing. Lasting for weeks, or even months, many former addicts report the range of insomnia from a complete inability to calm down and sleep more than minutes at a time, to an overall restlessness and inability to stay asleep and experience a truly restful night until the body readjusts to life without the highs and lows of drug dependency. Some tips others have found useful to calm the body and mind during this time of sleeplessness are: taking plenty of long hot baths to soothe the mind and body; avoiding coffee, tea and other drinks containing caffeine after mid afternoon; staying hydrated throughout the day with plenty of water, cranberry juice (it is known to help rid the body of toxins), and other non-alcoholic drinks; and exercise. Something as simple as going for a walk in the evening, help calm the nervous system and relax tense muscles, in order to tire the sufferer in a more natural and easy going way.

Other ways to ease the discomfort of insomnia and get your sleep patterns into a more normal pattern include:

  1. Force yourself to get up at the same time each day, even if you haven’t slept much the night before.
  2. Keep active throughout the day.
  3. Create a bedtime routine to help you relax and prepare your body and mind for sleep.
  4. Avoid falling asleep on a couch or chair.

Excessive Sweating and Chills
Feeling much like having the flu, excessive sweating and chills are all common side effects experienced during withdraw that can be handled much like when you find yourself sick in bed with a virus. Be prepared to change your clothes every few hours during those first few days of detoxification. Be prepared to feel freezing cold one minute and excruciatingly warm the next. Dress in layers to make it easier to cool down or warm up as the need arises.

Remember, excessive sweating is your body’s natural way of ridding itself of dangerous toxins, and should be considered a benefit since it will make the entire process faster. But it can deplete your body of important proteins needed for healing such as potassium, so eat plenty of bananas, melons, citrus fruits, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables.

Restlessness and Headaches
For restlessness and headaches, many drug counselors recommend learning a variety of relaxation techniques as well as using acupuncture in order t relieve the stresses and pain of the detoxification process.

Gastrointestinal Distress
As your body undergoes the vigorous drug-cleansing of treatment, you may feel quite ill. Gastrointestinal discomfort may range from nausea and diarrhea to extreme vomiting. For most sufferers, simply staying away from greasy foods and eating small light meals more often helps, but for those experiencing severe symptoms, medications from a physician may be necessary.

For other symptoms such as anger, depression and mood swings, counseling and support are necessary. One special note: Detoxification Therapy should only be performed under medical supervision in order to ease the discomfort of withdraw and better help the addict deal with both the physical and emotional issues related to getting off drugs. Even so, finding ways to deal with its side effects before entering a program, will better equip you or your loved one to handle the situation better.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • sally June 24, 2009, 8:45 pm

    I stopped taking antidepressant medicines after 26 years, have also significantly reduced valium too, put on this at ’13’ for anorexia and panic attacks. It is now 5 weeks since my last tablet and I have gone through hell, I wonder when it will end. Still sweating and having chills all the time and feel really ill. (I have c.f.s. and fibromyalgia too, both of which are much worse at the moment) If I hadn’t have found that similar ‘symptoms’ as I have, on ‘drug and alcohold’ sites do exist, I don’t know how I would have got through this. I actually thought I was dying!! GP’s don’t seem to realise that prescribed drugs have severe withdrawals. I found a long list of symptoms, some of which can be potentially life threatening! These drugs may have helped ‘initially’ but have ruined the rest of my life. I really feel for anyone who is having problems withdrawing from ANY drug or alcohol!! The biggest battle of your life and without much support, unless you are really lucky.

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