Guest Post by: Hellen Young
If you’re looking to come off an addictive substance, researching the options regarding how to do it can be pretty confusing. Depending on the nature of your addiction, you’ll find yourself confronted with an enormous variety of potential treatment options which are varied and bewildering enough to make any already confused and distressed addict tempted to give up the idea of giving up. Here, therefore, is a quick rundown of the most popular options out there, there benefits, and their drawbacks.
Cold Turkey is probably the most well-known method of withdrawal. It’s the favored method of‘tough’ folks everywhere. It’s also incredibly simple – one stops taking the substance to which one is addicted, point blank, and rides out the resulting DTs with no aid until the drug has completely left the system. In all fairness, it is quite effective – at least in the short term. It’s also extremely popular with certain sections of the community, who believe that medically-assisted and other ways of helping people come down from addiction more slowly are too ‘mollycoddling’.
However, it’s not quite as simple as it seems on the surface of it. The major problem is withdrawal symptoms. These are intense - so much so that many addicts, however, strong their willpower, simply cannot stand them and take a ‘hit’ to get them through. This is a slippery slope which invariably leads to failure. Furthermore, it is extremely ill advised to undergo Cold Turkey without medical supervision. Despite what movies and television will tell you, being locked in a room to sweat it out on your own can be incredibly dangerous, if not outright deadly.
Rapid withdrawal from barbiturates, and benzodiazepines can and frequently does kill people. Withdrawal from opiates and alcohol has a lower death rate, but can still cause enough brain disturbances to be deadly, and it invariably renders individuals incredibly sick. Cold turkey, therefore, should never be undertaken without a doctor on hand to help out should the detoxing addict get into serious difficulties.
The above title is something of a blanket term covering the psychiatric and spiritual aids which many use to help them through their journey as they get clean. While they may not provide a physical means of getting the drug out of the system, they do give addicts the mental armor and strength they need to get clean and keep clean. One of the major issues with Cold Turkey (other than the risk of death, of course) is that many addicts successfully get the drug out of their system, but then lack the mental framework to ensure that they remain clean.
While they may no longer be physically addicted to a substance, they still have the mindset of an addict. Numerous studies have found that encouraging spirituality or psychological wholeness can give addicts the state of mind they need to kick the habit and – crucially – keep it kicked. Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous have a great track record of helping addicts to stay clean by giving them the psychological support they need. Tapping into one’s spiritual side through yoga, meditation, taking up a religion, or the like is also a very good idea for anyone who is really serious about recovery.
Medically Assisted Detox
All detox should really be medically assisted, but some are more medically assisted than others. With a fully-assisted detox, the patient is eased through the transition with the use of chemical substitutes for the drug to which they are addicted. Before a medically assisted detox, the patient’s blood will be analyzed in order to determine which substances they are dependent upon.
They will then be guided through the physical detoxification process by doctors who will ‘bring down’ the patient slowly, stabilizing the withdrawal symptoms with replacement drugs. It takes a lot longer than Cold Turkey, and needs the full co-operation of the patient.
However, it is safer than Cold Turkey, and ensures that the addict is more or less physically and mentally able to start addressing their psychological issues (as above) while the detoxification process is underway. This is crucial, as medically assisted detox takes some time, and, if they cannot get themselves into the right frame of mind regarding the process, many addicts give up halfway and go back to their old habits.