There is no doubt that many people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs want to quit. The life of an addict is difficult, not only because of the problems these substances cause in their lives but in the constant sense of helplessness in the face of trying to stop using alcohol and drugs. Many people try to go off of these substances cold turkey, but not only are the results often not successful, but sudden detox can be dangerous. It is important to know when one can safely taper off of alcohol and drugs and when medical care is needed.
What Happens When an Addict Stops
When someone who is dependent on alcohol or drugs suddenly stops, it can be a shock to the system. The level of shock depends on various factors, such as how long the person has been using the substance, age, and gender. Alcohol is a depressant, and when there is an abrupt cessation of drinking, the body produces serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. This affects the brain and the body dramatically, with an abnormal heartbeat, vomiting, and dehydration.
The addict can develop a serious condition called delirium tremens. This is marked by confusion, delirium, temporary psychosis and in some cases, a heart attack or a stroke. Symptoms can start 24 to 48 hours after the cessation of drinking, and it is important to seek medical assistance immediately if these signs start to develop. It is safer to decide to seek treatment in an inpatient facility if one feels that they have been drinking heavily enough to experience these symptoms. If one reason for continuing drinking is because of these kinds of physical reactions when one hasn’t had a drink, that is an indication that extra help is essential
What is Detox?
Detox is the process of ridding the body of drugs and alcohol until there are no traces left in the system and no more symptoms and cravings. Anyone who feels they are addicted should get detox information prior to making the transition to sobriety. The goal of detox is to allow the person to remove alcohol and drugs from their life in a safe manner and to get treatment to prevent relapses. A large number of addicts who undergo detox themselves revert back to using drugs and alcohol, and that is why it is important to see outside help, not only in the initial phases to deal with withdrawal symptoms but for ongoing support.
People who do not suffer from severe physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms may safely try to go off drugs or alcohol themselves, but one should contact a physician and undergo an examination. There are a number of support groups designed to assist people in this process, such as twelve step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition, there are inpatient treatment programs that provide medical treatment and remove the person from any triggers that may cause a relapse. In an inpatient setting, the patient will be given the opportunity to develop the tools to avoid using alcohol and drugs again and resume a normal life.