Before anything else in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction can proceed, detoxification has to take place. Substance abuse does serious damage to the body’s organs, cells, and blood system, often to the point of alcohol or drug poisoning. Even in the early stages of alcoholism or drug addiction, the body is affected. Some early symptoms can include vitamin deficiencies and hand tremors. In serious late stages, liver damage and brain malfunction can occur. Detoxification gives the body a chance to begin healing.
Physical reactions to withdrawal
If a person seeks treatment in the earlier stages of addiction, detoxification will have milder indications of withdrawal. Symptoms at that point may include some nausea, an overall sense of anxiety and inability to sleep. If an addiction has progressed to the late stages, detoxification may become a medical emergency. In those cases, an addict may suffer from hallucinations and seizures. Detoxification often requires thorough medical treatment, particularly in the case of delirium tremens (DTs).
Stages of treatment for addiction
Usually the detoxification process begins with observation in order for a medical team to assess the condition of heart rate, blood pressure, and body chemistry. In the most advanced cases, doctors might use some form of sedation or tranquilizers to reduce the severity of symptoms, which can progress quickly to a life-threatening situation. After a period of total abstinence from alcohol or drugs, doctors may test other physical conditions, such as malnutrition, liver disease and brain functions. Once the detoxification process is complete, rehabilitation can begin.
Detoxification is only the beginning
Detoxification is not complete addiction treatment. It addresses only the physical withdrawal symptoms. Long-term recovery also has mental, emotional, and spiritual components that need attention once the body has been flushed of the toxins created by excessive alcohol consumption or drug use. Once the body begins to rebuild, then the addict will have the ability to move on to other aspects of living without relying on chemical substances.