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Detox can be a traumatic experience. This is not said to scare you; this is simply stated to make it known that you are not alone in your withdrawal pains.
The vicious cycle of addiction catches up to you eventually, and no matter how hard one may try to stay well, inevitably they will experience withdrawal at some point.

Realizing that one cannot always have enough drugs of their choice to keep from getting sick is a horribly frightening reality. Tolerance eventually becomes so high that the only way to keep up with the demands of the addiction is to take what would be for others, a lethal dose. Soon, withdrawal begins to happen, and the body simply gives up the fight of trying to maintain sufficient levels of the substance in the in the brain and body. 

Withdrawal is factual for long-term users, or even those who have only used heavily for a period of months. Understanding withdrawal may make it seem less frightening. After all, the idea of going to a detox facility may seem very scary, as it involves the acknowledgment of the problem. When your addiction has left you with no choice but to detox off of the drugs, surrendering and seeking professional medical help is necessary.

If employed, finding the courage to tell your employer you need time off to get well can be challenging. In some instances, your employer may have noticed that you have a problem, and may be relieved that you are going to get help. In other instances, the employer may be the one who is forcing you to go to detox. Regardless of what your personal situation is, most companies are FMLA protected, and therefore, your job will still be waiting for you when you return well.

When you are going through withdrawals, you may feel stuck, like there is no foreseeable way out. The choices become apparent: either go on using the drugs, unsuccessfully, or endure the withdrawal. For some, the withdrawal process is painful and severe. For others, with the help of some properly prescribed medication, the withdrawal period is easily managed. Those with the most severe withdrawal symptoms need to persevere. The severity of the withdrawal is the body giving them a message that it cannot continue on as it was. In order for you to make it through the withdrawal period, you must keep holding on. Know that it will not last forever.

The pain of withdrawing from drugs and alcohol can be excruciating. It is so easy for you to think that it would just be easier to turn back to the alcohol or drugs, rather than suffer through the withdrawal. Your mind continues to trick you saying things like, “You can handle it this time, you don’t really have a problem.” This is the addiction talking trying to win the battle of who is going to take over the body. This is when true willpower is really tested. If one can stay in the detox facility and fully complete the detox program, they leave as stronger individuals.

Detox can be a traumatic experience. This is not said to scare you; this is simply stated to make it known that you are not alone in your withdrawal pains. One moment you may feel fine, and as though you can take on the world. The next moment you may be curled up in a ball trembling from muscle toxicity. If you have a dual diagnosis, beware that during detox your symptoms of your mental illness will be exasperated. These are some of the reasons why going through withdrawal at a detox facility is important, rather than going through detox alone at home. At a detox facility, they monitor your vitals and have doctors and psychiatrists on staff who specialize in detox, and can administer medication to help your withdrawal symptoms subside.

After detox, the withdrawal period, also called the acute withdrawal period, is over. Shortly after, a period called post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, begins. Many detox facilities do not warn you about PAWS. It consists of high levels of anxiety, mood swings, uncontrollable emotions, depersonalization, and the most difficult one, foggy thinking.

High Levels of Anxiety: This is a difficult one because anxiety takes over the entire character and physical attributes. It has effect on everything physically by making the individual nauseous, tremble, and increases the levels of muscle spasms in the chest. The anxiety experienced during PAWS can be debilitating. The best thing to do when this happens, especially if you have already returned to work, is to go for a small walk outside. The fresh air will help to bring the anxiety down. Sip some water. Obtain a non-narcotic anxiety medication such as an antihistamine.  

Mood Swings: Embrace the moments when you feel happy, and the moments when you are feeling negative moods put space between yourself and others. That way you will not subject others to your erratic moods.

Uncontrollable Emotions: There will be moments when you cry for no reason at all. There will be moments when you are angry for no reason at all. These do make it difficult to live a normal life; however, it will not last forever.

Depersonalization: This is one of the worst symptoms of PAWS. It is a feeling when your limbs are not attached to your body. You cannot feel your arms, and you do not feel real. Everything feels like it is a dream. 

Foggy Thinking: There will be times when you will not be able to concentrate and your mind will feel like a big cotton ball. It is usually triggered by some form of anxiety. It makes it difficult to think abstract thoughts such as math, reading, and writing. Work and school related tasks may become difficult. It is best to take things slow, give yourself a break. After all, you have just been through a huge physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual ordeal, and you are recovering from severe withdrawal symptoms.

Please know that PAWS does not last forever. It lasts as short as ninety days and as long as two years; however, you will not experience the worst symptoms everyday. Keep track of how you are doing on a monthly basis, rather than day to day because it will be less discouraging.

Something called kindling could happen if you decide to use during your PAWS phase. It is when the withdrawal symptoms return the day after using just once. Here is an example: Sally drank every day for four years straight. Then, she went to detox and after detox she kept off of alcohol for sixty days. One night she drinks four glasses of wine in one sitting. Then next day she is trembling and full of uncontrollable anxiety. She is experiencing kindling.

The best way to avoid kindling is to stay abstinent. It may be difficult to not pick up again, especially if alcohol was the substance that you detoxed off of; however you need to keep in mind all the pain and sickness you felt while you were going through withdrawal.

Distributed by Hawaii Island Recovery

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