For addicts, the best way to stop using all mind-altering substances is to determine if or not your life is significant enough to grow out of an addiction. Now, it’s an easy choice to make, because more than likely, your life is significant enough to help it survive. Some drugs require less intense detoxification stages than others, like marijuana. And then some won’t, like heroin, Oxycontin, and other opioids. So, what can you do to make life bearable during withdrawal while taking addiction treatment services?
Let’s begin with the cause of withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is caused by the physiological need of your body to be happy. What makes it happy is endorphins. Endorphins shoot into receptors in the brain, and they smile. When you use drugs, the signature of the drug imitates the natural signature of the endorphin. When the receptor is filled with the drug, your brain stops sending the “fire” command to the endorphin. Over time, endorphin production sleeps, and the drugs fill the void. Take away the drug, and your receptors will yell at you. They will cause you pain and suffering until one of two things happen:
- You begin to produce endorphins again, which will occur over time.
- You use drugs again.
Once you commence drugs abuse again, you are telling the endorphins to go back to sleep. And when you decide to stop using them again, you’ll experience the same reactions.
So, what can you do to cope with the withdrawal symptoms better? To begin with, you should probably not “cold turkey” your entrance into recovery. A sudden cessation of the powerful drugs you’ve been taking can be fatal, and if not fatal, may make you wish it was. You need to let the abuse be slowly discontinued. Your body will crave them, and cause you to hurt in a big way. Going through a structured detox is the safest way to stop using. You may decide that alternative drug therapy is a better way to go. In this type of program, different “medicines” are administered to imitate the endorphins, reducing the demand on the brain to scream for more. They are slowly tapered off, and as they are, the natural production of endorphins resumes. Medical supervision ensures that you aren’t going over the line and detoxing too fast. While you can detox at home, it is not advised.
Once you’ve detoxed, the poisons that resided in you for so long will begin to disperse, and you will have the opportunity to begin a new life. The dangerous moment comes when you have a craving, or when a trigger in your daily life makes you want to pick up again. This is where having a good program and support helps. You will want to turn back and run to the drugs to make you feel better. Don’t. It will get better; you just need to give it time. And you certainly don’t want to go through detox again.
Getting out of drugs and alcohol is a lot tougher than getting in. But life without drugs and alcohol is a whole lot more rewarding, so like anything else, no pain, no gain. Take the suffering, weather the storm, and when the sky clears, you’ll be sailing into a much better place.