Addiction to drugs or alcohol happens when a person becomes physically and psychologically dependent on a substance. It is usually a gradual process: as the amount and frequency of use increases over time, the dependence becomes more entrenched. Eventually, the body becomes so accustomed to the drugs or alcohol that it starts to behave as if these substances are essential for survival, in the same way that food and water are essential for survival.
When the body is deprived of something that it needs, it sends physical signals to the individual to let them know they are running low on that substance. For instance, if we don’t have enough water, we get thirsty. If we don’t get enough food, we get hungry. And for people with drug or alcohol abuse problems, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are a result of the body being deprived of the substance it has become used to, and that it thinks it needs.
In many cases withdrawal symptoms are inconvenient and uncomfortable, but otherwise harmless. Sometimes, though, the process of withdrawal can be both terrifying and life-threatening. A detox centre is a place for addicts to go through the detox process while under supervision. This keeps them safe and reduces the possibility of relapse.
The way in which detox happens depends on the individual and on the substance being taken. It is more severe for some people than it is for others: the severity depends on the user’s state of physical and mental health, the amount and frequency of drug use, and the number of substances to which one is addicted. The duration of detox also varies, but it generally lasts for three to seven days.
While the specific symptoms of withdrawal vary according to what the substance is, some general symptoms include the following:
Clients going through detox are placed under professional care to keep them safe and give them the support they need. Like all other aspects of our addiction treatment programs, supervised detox is planned and execute with the needs of the individual in mind. Clients are protected from life-threatening symptoms such as suicidal thoughts or dehydration, they are shown how to cope with cravings and other unpleasant psychological withdrawal effects, and they are given the tools to transition into their addiction treatment programs and prepare for a life of abstinence.