Drug and alcohol abuse can take over your life and keep you from being the person you want to be. Entering a detox program can get you started on the path toward long-term recovery, but you may not be sure if this is the right time to make the commitment. Understanding how detox works and how it can help you overcome your addiction may make it easier to arrive at a decision.
Detox is an important part of the recovery process because it allows you to safely stop taking your substance of abuse. The right treatment setting for detox will depend on your individual circumstances and the extent of your dependence.
The detox process may involve gradually lowering the dose of the abused drug, although many individuals benefit from replacement medications that act as a temporary substitute for the abused drug. Once the physical dependence on a drug has been broken, you can focus your energy on addressing the emotional and psychological factors that can fuel addictive behavior.
Choosing the Right Time
It can be difficult to recognize that you need detox, especially if you're deep in the throes of drug or alcohol abuse. Asking yourself a few key questions can help you decide if this is the right time to begin treatment:
- Do you find it hard to cut back or stop using?
- Do you feel uncomfortable or sick when you stop using?
- Has your group of friends changed since you began using?
- Has your financial situation changed since you began using?
- Have you experienced health problems related to your substance abuse?
Examine your responses to these questions—the more affirmative responses you have, the more likely it is that you could benefit from starting detox immediately.
While detox is an essential part of the recovery process, it won't work on its own. Without the behavioral changes and coping skills developed in rehab, the chances of relapse are high. Detox should be part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes rehabilitation.
The Dangers of Doing It Yourself
It can be tempting to try a cold-turkey approach to detox and quit drinking or using on your own. This method is never recommended—not only is it likely to end in failure, but it can be extremely dangerous in some cases. Detoxing from alcohol, for example, can have serious side effects, including seizures and delirium tremens. Without careful medical supervision, these effects could be fatal.
If you are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, this may the right time to break the cycle of addiction and start treatment. A medically supervised detox, followed by rehab, can help you overcome the physical and emotional dependence that fuels addictive behavior. Deciding to begin treatment is the first step on your journey to a new life.