Skip to main content

When you are making the decision to break free from drug and alcohol addiction, one of the first things you’ll be doing is undergoing withdrawals.1Management, W. (2009). Withdrawal Management. World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/ Withdrawal from psychoactive substances can be very uncomfortable. Some drugs, like heroin, can cause severe discomfort if you stop using them abruptly. Others, like alcohol, can actually be deadly. If you need help getting off an addictive substance, it is strongly recommended to undergo Medically-Assisted Withdrawals.2Diaper, A., Law, F., & Melichar, J. (2014). Pharmacological strategies for detoxification. British Journal Of Clinical Pharmacology77(2), 302-314. doi: 10.1111/bcp.12245 Medically-Assisted Withdrawal is a safe and effective way to get off drugs while mitigating discomfort and serious health consequences. During this process, clients are monitored closely by doctors and nurses, and medications are administered to relieve any discomfort or side effects. The process of withdrawal can be daunting, and many may be encountering anxiety during this time. Here’s what you need to know about overcoming anxiety during withdrawals.

What is Detoxing?

Detoxification is the process of getting rid of toxins from the body. These toxins may come from alcohol, prescription medications, or other illegal drugs.3Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment [Internet]. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2006. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45.) 1 Overview, Essential Concepts, and Definitions in Detoxification. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64119/

For those entering addiction rehabilitation, detoxification is often done before starting any type of therapy. Due to the general discomfort surrounding the withdrawal process, it is posited that clients would have a significantly harder time being able to receive therapeutic care. 

How Long Does Detox Last?

There are many factors that play into the timeline of substance use withdrawal; including the person's physical state, as well as the substance being taken. Most withdrawal symptoms usually appear within 24 hours after discontinuation of opioid use. Symptoms may vary depending on the type of drug taken However, as a general note, one can expect to see most of the acute withdrawal symptoms tapering off within one week.4How Long Does It Take to Detox from Alcohol? Timeline and More. (2022). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/alcoholism/how-long-does-it-take-to-detox-from-alcohol

What Are Some Common Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal During Detox? 

While some withdrawal symptoms can differ depending on the substance used, these are some generally common symptoms:5Drug Withdrawal Symptoms, Timelines, and Treatment. (2022). Retrieved from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle Aches
  • Intense Cravings for Psychoactive Substances
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Tachycardia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue

10 Techniques to Help Mitigate Anxiety During The Detox Process

When it comes to detoxing, it is best to utilize all the tools and knowledge you have available to make the process as smooth as possible. While Medically-Assisted Withdrawal procedures do well to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms, you can still benefit from utilizing the techniques we have listed below:6Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. (2022). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/tips

 1. Exercise Regularly

Exercise has been proven to help alleviate stress and anxiety. If you’re feeling anxious about the detox process, exercise regularly to help ease your tension.

2. Eat Healthy Foods

Eating healthy foods can help you feel better overall. Eating nutritious food can help you avoid cravings and overeating. It can be tempting to eat fatty foods during detox, but the process will go much smoother if you eat more healthily during this time.

3. Ride out the cravings

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be intense. While there may be times when you feel like drinking, it is important to remember that cravings are temporary. Your body needs time to adjust to not having alcohol in its system. Being able to rationalize these feelings can help get a clearer picture of what you are going through, and can better ward off panic attacks and anxiety.

4. Meditate

Meditation is another technique that can help you relax and calm down. Meditation can help you focus on breathing deeply and relaxing your muscles. This will allow you to cope with the anxiety and panic of detox more effectively.

5. Take Time Off From Work

Taking time off from work can help you decompress and recharge. This can help you feel better and enjoy life more. Having fewer tasks to manage can help immensely when it comes to anxiety.

6. Get Enough Sleep

Getting adequate sleep can help you feel better. It’s recommended that adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night.

Proper sleep can actually speed along the withdrawal process. In fact, studies show that brain cells can reduce up to 60% in size while asleep, allowing for toxins to be removed from your system more easily.7How to Detox Your Body By Sleeping: 8 Tips to Your Best Sleep Detox. (2022). Retrieved from https://www.hushhome.com/blogs/sleep-wellness-guide/8-tips-to-sleep-detox-and-how-to-detox-your-body

7. Use intentional breathing techniques

Deep breathing helps you re-engage the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for critical thinking and reasoning. If you feel like eating something, try taking a deep breath before doing so. You should inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, then exhale slowly for four seconds. If you practice breathing techniques regularly, you’ll notice that you feel calmer when you’re stressed. And you’ll be less likely to smoke when you’re feeling down.

8. Grounding Exercises

There are grounding exercises that help reorient oneself to their physical space. One of the most popular exercises is called the “5-4-3-2-1”.8Grounding Techniques: Exercises for Anxiety, PTSD, & More. (2022). Retrieved 7 July 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques

5. Start by visually acknowledging five physical objects around you.

4. Then you acknowledge four physical objects you can touch.

3. Acknowledge three sounds around you.

2. Acknowledge two smells.

1. Acknowledge one thing that you’re tasting.

When you finish doing all of this, you’ll have acknowledged five items that you can physically see around yourself, touched four things, heard three things, smelled two things, and tasted one thing. Doing this will help you to calm down and help mitigate symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks.

9. Talk To A Professional About Your Symptoms

If you’re suffering from anxiety during the detox process, talk to a professional about your symptoms.

Talking about your feelings always helps. When you feel anxious, it’s natural to want to keep it inside. But talking about it brings it out into the light. You’ll get advice that will help you manage it. And if you need help managing it, you’ll get it.

They can also help you find ways to cope with your feelings and emotions.

10. Remember that you are not alone

Addiction is a chronic condition that affects many people around the world. Many people with addiction convince themselves that they are the only ones going through their experience. It can comfort them to know that millions have already gone through withdrawal. Consider your part of a strong community that stands together to help each other get healthy. Stand in solidarity with others who have chosen to address their substance use disorders and the challenges required to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Let The Commitment House Help You Undergo Withdrawals Safely and Comfortably

Withdrawal is one of the most daunting prospects when it comes to starting a new life in recovery. However, it is undoubtedly the most important. Detoxification is typically the first step toward recovery. By managing it well, individuals will be able to build a strong foundation for long-term sobriety.

After detox, individuals must immediately enter an addiction treatment center in order to build upon those healthy habits. The real miracle of recovery lies in the therapeutic phase after detoxification, but it’s important that you’re supported through this period.

Our team at The Commitment House is fully dedicated to making sure you get the full spectrum of care that you need. Contact us or call us at (270) 900-0373 to get started!

References