You asked; Recovery Boot Camp has provided! Everything you need to know about detox but were too afraid to face. Here it is, in one handy-dandy offering! We've even threw in a few good reasons to be both hopeful and cheerful, as well as a full count of those legendary Promises everybody always raves about. In short, now you've got absolutely no excuse!
Reasons to Be Hopeful
There are more than a few important things to know about detox. The kind of things that can mean the difference between a dream procedure and a nightmare. Okay, so maybe that's stretching things a bit. Detox is never really dreamy. It can however help you get to the place where dreams are realized. And that in turn will save you from many nightmares.
Besides, if nightmares can be minimized, why not minimize 'em? The demons of the dark might get pissed. But so what? You're here to piss 'em off. And to kick their asses back to Hades. Remember, you don't owe those demons one bloody red cent. Hell, didn't you just spend every dollar you could beg, borrow, earn and steal just to keep those diabolical beasts at peace? Of course you did.
Well, my friend, those nights of mad spending are over. So are those go broke days. Why? Simple. You can't drink and drug and detox all at the same time. Not if you wanna live through the first 48.
And yes, that's another reason why you've come to detox. To live! No, not where am I gonna get my next 20 or how am I gonna pay the rent kinda living. And not a scrape-by why-of-a-life either. But an honest-to-Zeus, let's-do-this rise that'll make you shiningly alive! That kinda live.
Be honest. When was the last time you looked into the mirror and truly liked who was staring back? How long has it been since you've genuinely felt proud of something you've done? What about your loved ones? Do they have any reason to be proud of you? Do either of you?
And before you Christian soldiers start to uproar, we're well aware of the Proverbial pride that goeth before a fall. This isn't that pride. It couldn't be. We've already fallen. Now we're getting up. And feeling good about ourselves is how we rise.
Do you know about The Promises? No? Well, on Page 83 and 84 of AA's Big Book, the legendary Bill W. and Dr. Bob offer a few solid Promises to live by. If you switch the "we" of the text to the "you" being addressed you'll have an excellent idea of just what's in store.
You are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. And you will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. You will comprehend the word serenity and you will know peace. No matter how far down the scale you have gone, you will see how your experience can benefit others.
Detox is indeed the first step toward those Promises being kept -- for good. And for the good of all. So you'll do well to keep them in mind, especially during the dirty work of getting clean. Once you've completed detox, you can switch back to the Big Book's "we." By this time you'll want to align yourself with a legion of successes anyway. You'll also need the realigning. Most of all, you'll feel worthy of the good company.
All About Detox
Where you detox is as important as how you detox. In other words, the facility is critical. And not just to your success either. But also to your very safety.
Consequently you'll want to select a facility that meets all local, state and national criteria. Is the center certified? If so, by whom and for how long? Is it also listed with the Better Business Bureau? What's the rating? And how about the staff? Do they have any of those defining medical letters affixed to the ends of their name? Remember, detox is much more than mere rehab. It's an actual medical procedure that needs to be administered by trained and experienced medical professionals. So it's crucial you choose a medically-equipped facility that's staffed by actual medical personnel.
Reviews are something else to carefully consider. Yeah, we know, the anonymity of the internet has enabled people to shoot off their mouths at machine gun rates. We also know most of what these folks say is meant to be as harmful as possible. That can be especially prevalent with addicts and alcoholics, some of whom blame the world and mean for it to suffer accordingly. But you can easily weed through the weedier reviewers. (Grudges tend to stand out.) You can also easily spot the overly-stuffed fluff-and-puffs who seem to float on their own hot air. (Agendas stand out too.) A good rule of thumb is to check the number of reviews. If a center has scores upon scores then chances are good you'll get an honest accounting. So pick three reviews at random and see how they read.
Okay, you've checked reputation and accreditation. Now, check the physical facility itself. What does the center look like? Is it clean and orderly? Are the rooms inviting? Does it also have some sort of sunny outdoor space? Granted you'll be in bed for most of the first 24 hours, and much of that time you'll be trying to sleep. But if and when you do wake, you'll want comfort. If you feel like a breath of fresh air, then that option should be there. And if by chance a facility doesn't show any photos, well, it probably has nothing worth seeing. So move on!
Targeted Detox Programs
Not all detox programs are created equally. Nor should they be. Alcohol isn't opiates and opiates are not benzos and benzos are different than meth. Each drug demands different detox protocols. So make sure the facility offers the specific detox program you need.
Alcohol withdrawal generally lasts 72 hours and includes a wide-range of physical symptoms. The mildest symptoms begin about 6-12 hours after your last drink. These may include anxiety, nausea, insomnia or abdominal pain. After about 12-24 hours you may also experience hallucinations, increased body temperature, confusion or even an unusual heart rate. This is when the importance of medical professionals is most apparent.
Between the first and second day of alcohol detox (24-48 hours) there's also a slight risk of withdrawal seizures. No, seizures aren’t common. And yes, they can occur even sooner. So again, this clearly shows the importance of a medically-equipped facility.
Days 2 and 3 are generally the most difficult. If DTs (delirium tremens) are going to happen, this is the period when they'll most likely occur. After you've crossed the 72 hour threshold however, you should be in the clear. Nevertheless, complications may arise. Remember, you've put your body through the ringer. So be certain to abide by all doctor's orders.
Opiates include everything from heroin to prescription pain pills such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet and Percodan. Opiates may also include Methadone or Suboxone/Subutex. Whichever the opiate, the withdrawal symptoms are largely the same.
Those symptoms generally begin 12-24 hours after the last dose. During the initial stages they'll usually include aches and pain, fatigue, nausea, sweating, anxiety and insomnia. As detox progresses though new symptoms may pop up. These may include stomach pain, chills, digestive issues, as well as much more severe nausea. So be prepared.
Opiate withdrawal symptoms generally start to subside after 72 hours. In some cases however, they can last several weeks or longer. Most clinics now offer short- and long-term replacement drugs, at least to get over those early humps. Do your homework though before deciding on any form of Medication-Assisted-Treatment (MAT), especially programs that last longer than the first 3-5 days. You could be setting yourself up for another problem.
Benzodiazepines (better known as benzos) are usually prescribed for anxiety. They affect the central nervous system very much like alcohol. Because of this, withdrawal from benzos can be extremely dangerous and must always be conducted by medical professionals.
Different benzos have different half-lives. Consequently there are differences in both the detox timeline and the consequent withdrawal symptoms. It all depends upon the person. There are however a few general symptoms to be prepared for. These symptoms include irritability, upset stomach, weight loss, heart palpitations, tremors, insomnia and anxiety.
The detox timelines are tricky to accurately gauge and again, differ from person to person. Alprazolam (i.e. Xanax) has an average of an 11-hour half-life, so the system quickly gets rid of it. On the other hand, the half-life of clonazepam (Klonopin) can be 30-40 hours. That means it takes longer to flush from your system. Therefore, you’re likely to start experiencing withdrawal symptoms for Xanax within a few hours of taking the last dose. However, it may be a few days before you start feeling symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal.
There are also other elements to factor into this timeline, from how long and how often you've taken benzos, to just how high a dose you take. Your physical condition plays into the picture too. Since it can take a month or two before physical symptoms completely reside, it's essential to detox in a specialized treatment facility.
Stimulants include methamphetamine and cocaine, and withdrawal occurs in stages. First comes the crash, which generally follows a binge. This is the Early Stage. And its symptoms include anxiety, intense craving for the drug, aggression or quick temper, emotional agitation and delusions. Middle Stage follows, and its symptoms include everything from lack of focus and fatigue to depression and insomnia. Late stage withdrawal occurs with about 36 hours of that last blast and can last as long as two or three weeks. Here you'll find yourself waking with extreme hunger, sleeping for long periods of time, and experiencing extreme lethargy and sleepiness.
Whatever the stage, and whichever the symptoms, these will pass. So long as you've chosen a safe place and put yourself in the right mindset, you'll walk away from this with a skip in your step and your held high.
Have At It!
Okay, now that you're fully enthused and ready to commit, you shouldn't be afraid of the nitty-gritty. Again, detox ain't pretty. But it's a helluva lot prettier than the world you're leaving. How pretty things get however will be entirely up to you. Detox simply gives you a blank canvas, a toolkit containing all the colors in the rainbow, and the opportunity to paint your life in whatever way you desire. Now have at it!
(Above Image: The Hardest Detox by Lina Gonzalez. Flickr. Creative Commons.)