Conflating detox with recovery has cost many addicts their lives, so understanding the difference is critical to achieving a lasting remission. While detox can exist without recovery, the opposite is not true: you cannot recover without detoxing.
Your detox is probably the leg of your journey that you fear the most, but recovery asks far more of you than those first few days do. It is, however, the most rewarding part of the journey if you work hard towards change.
Abstinence, Addiction, and Dependency
The DSM-V, the diagnostic manual psychiatrists use to guide your care, distinguishes between dependency and substance use disorder.
- You have a dependency if your body has begun to tolerate a drug. You’ve developed a tolerance if you experience a diminished effect after using a substance continuously. Withdrawal syndrome will occur when that drug is discontinued.
- You have a substance use disorder if your behavior is affected by your dependency.
Understanding Substance Use Disorder
To get beyond dependency, you only need a safe detoxification program with solid medical supervision. To get beyond a substance use disorder, you must do far more than merely suffer through physical symptoms. The DSM-V criteria for a substance use disorder are:
- Recurrent legal problems as a result of the disorder
- The existence of cravings
- A loss of control over how much you use and for how long
- Regularly being unable to fulfill work, school, and home responsibilities due to substance use
- Cutting back on social and career related activities due to substance use
- Continuing to use the drug even when it’s causing psychological and physical problems
- The presence of physical tolerance and withdrawal.
To move beyond addiction, these behaviors and their motives need to be understood and dealt with. Abstinence and change will be needed to last beyond that first week in detox.
Understanding Detox Today
Detox is different depending on the substances you’ve been using, your dosages, and for how long your addiction has lasted. No two detoxes are alike, even among addicts who use identical substances. Your detox begins with an assessment of your health. Your medical practitioner must find out how strong your body is and whether you can tolerate medications that will make your detox a little easier to cope with.
Kidney and liver damage must be checked for, and any common medical problems related to your drug of choice must be diagnosed. Once your doctor has a full picture of the state of your body and the substances you’ve been using, he may prescribe a short course of medications to reduce your detox symptoms.
Detox has its own schedule and depends on which drugs you’ve used. While the first days are the toughest, extreme dependence can take a year or two to fully recover from. You will only return to full health long after the protracted withdrawal symptoms resolve.
You may suffer from psychiatric symptoms during withdrawal. Depression, apathy, and anxiety are common, so caregivers at Beachway will also supervise your state of mind at their detox facility in Florida. During your stabilization phase, you will stop experiencing withdrawal, but this is the ideal time to work on the behavioral aspects of your addiction.
There is no consensus on what that should entail because every addiction has its own varying motives and pathologies. It’s thus critical that you be entirely honest about your behaviors and feelings. Your life may depend on it.
The Best Part of the Journey
For many, addiction is founded on an inability to cope with feelings. Substances are often used to numb or change emotions or to cope more easily with day-to-day life. Recovery teaches you to sit more easily with your emotions and even with life itself, which will result in a vastly improved experience of the world.
Learning how to be present puts you in touch with the beauty of the world around you. Learning how to relate to friends and family more healthily will probably be the most rewarding part of recovery for you. Many addicts are frightened of intimacy. Recovery can teach you that, if you take the risk of showing people who you really are, you will still be loved. The loneliest part of your life is over.