Psychoactive substances are drugs which alter a person's brain chemistry. They include depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and inhalants.
Although withdrawal symptoms cause discomfort, the benefits of stopping substance abuse greatly outweigh the harm of addiction to drugs and alcohol. The temporary discomfort of withdrawal is minor compared to a lifetime of discomfort from addiction. This is especially true for people who suffer mental health challenges from substance abuse.
If you’re going through withdrawal, here’s how you can weather the process. Firstly, it is important that you see the process to the end. A person in withdrawal may feel a compulsion to leave treatment or otherwise escape the therapeutic process. These feelings are normal. Panful and difficult as they are in the moment, please just hang in there. Everything will get better one minute, one hour, one day at a time. Meanwhile, you can take action to make the process a little easier, especially with proper nutrition, rest, and support.
Secondly, during withdrawal, it is important to not be alone. A program of support of a medical detox facility is crucial. If you’re at home, have someone stay with you. It is helpful to talk to others who are farther along in the process or have gone through withdrawal before. It’s good to know that you are not the only one who has ever felt so awful and out of control, and that others have survived this ordeal intact, and now they feel better than ever.
Thirdly, during withdrawal, stop resisting and relax. You will have to temporarily give up control so that you will ultimately become a better manager of your life. This may not seem to make sense now, but millions of people who once struggled with substance use disorders have found that “letting go” is beneficial during such a difficult time. Your environment should be calm and comfortable, since noise and non-supportive people only make withdrawal more difficult.
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Additionally, try to stay positive. Everyone who has contemplated working toward an abstinent and sober life has wanted to stop living the way they were living before, but struggled with being afraid to face life without alcohol or drugs. These feelings arise from depression and despair, yet they are natural when you begin any new journey or step into the unknown. When you have addiction, learning to live a sober life is certainly one of the biggest journeys of all. It is important to remember that your feelings of hesitation may be strongest during the withdrawal process, but they will lessen with time. Depression may return periodically for a while, but the “down” periods should become fewer and farther apart as the months roll by.
Lastly, remember that recovery is the goal. When you’ve overcome the initial withdrawal process, you may think, “Great, I’ve kicked my addiction. It must be time to have a drink or take a drug and this time I won’t let it get out of hand.” Remember, your goal is to recovery fully, not just to feel better or get sober temporarily.
Recovery heals, if you give yourself the gift of time. You may wonder why you have to go through the discomfort of withdrawal. Actually, people who have withstood the entire withdrawal process say their fears about withdrawal far outweighed the actual symptoms they experienced. Withdrawal is a part of the healing process as the body clears itself of toxins from alcohol and drugs.
Remember, the benefits of withdrawal are greater than the discomfort. The same is true with any disease that affects the body. For example, a person who has been suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome knows that the initial surgery and the following days or weeks of recovery will not be pleasant. Even still, they know the long-term benefits of the surgery are worth the pain. One of the miracles of recovery is the body’s ability to heal itself. Improvement is gradual and steady, and it takes place over a period of weeks and months. A substance use disorder does not develop overnight and neither will sobriety.
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