Categories
Medical Detox

Withdrawal Management And Medical Detox

A common and dangerous misconception about addiction is that people who suffer from it can get better if they simply stop using drugs or alcohol. In an ideal world that would be true, but the reality is not that simple. Addiction arises because the body gets so used to functioning with a particular substance running through it that it “forgets” how to work without that substance.

What this means is that the body can go into a form of shock when it is suddenly deprived of the substance it has become so accustomed to. What results is a series of withdrawal events that can be uncomfortable at best, and dangerous – even fatal – at worst.

Many people try several times to quit using drugs or alcohol on their own. They may have the strongest resolve in the world to stick to their goal, but after hours or days, the withdrawal symptoms become too overwhelming for them to cope with, and they seek out their substance of choice just to get away from the discomfort or pain they are experiencing.

With proper support and a solid withdrawal management plan, you can safely stop using drugs or alcohol and reduce your risk of relapse.

In order to talk about withdrawal management and the role of medical detox, we should first address how addiction arises in the first place.

How Does Addiction Develop?

All of us are motivated by reward, and a lot of times the reward is nothing more than a feeling of happiness or well being. These feelings arise as a result of the brain releasing “feel-good” chemicals like dopamine. Because we like experiencing happiness, confidence, serenity, and other positive emotions, we are driven to repeat the behaviours that produce them. In other words, we act in ways that trigger a boost of dopamine.

When the dopamine is boosted in healthy ways such as exercise, accomplishing a goal, or spending time with loved ones, it gradually returns to its baseline level.

The reason people use drugs and alcohol is that these substances activate the brain’s reward system by artificially prompting a release of dopamine. With many substances, when the dopamine level comes back down, it is not gradual. It drops suddenly, often to a level below the original baseline.

The addicted person wants to feel good again, so they use the substance again. But this time, they have to use more in order to achieve the same effects. And so over time, the dosage increases, and the time between uses decreases.

While all of this is going on, the body is adjusting to the presence of the substance. This impacts your breathing, your heart rate, how the liver functions, what happens in the digestive system, and a host of other things.

What Happens During Withdrawal?

Now that your body’s functions and systems have been compensating for the presence of drugs or alcohol, what happens when that presence is abruptly taken away?  Bear in mind that it took a while for your body to make these adjustments as your substance use increased; when the substance is withdrawn, it won’t suddenly start to act “normally”. Your organs, brain, and central nervous system will continue to behave as if drugs or alcohol are flowing through your body, and this can have dangerous effects.

For example, alcohol is a depressant that slows down your heart rate. Habitual use will make your heart work harder – in other words, beat faster – to compensate. When you suddenly take away the alcohol, your heart continues to beat faster – but now there is nothing to artificially slow it down. It can be the human body’s equivalent of a car accelerating for a period of time and then suddenly losing its braking capacity.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

The withdrawal symptoms that you may experience depend on a number of factors, including your age and state of health, the substances you were using, how long you have been addicted for, and what your average dosages were.

Some common withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Agitation and irritability that may translate into aggressive or violent behaviour
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Disrupted eating and/or sleeping patterns
  • Hot and cold flushes and/or excessive sweating
  • Impaired memory, concentration, and cognitive function
  • Elevated heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration
  • Shaking or tremors, especially in the hands
  • Restlessness
  • Watery discharge from the nose and eyes

Some substances, such as alcohol and opioids, can produce severe advanced withdrawal symptoms, including delirium tremens, seizures, extreme variations in body temperature and blood pressure, and hallucinations.

What Is Medical Detox?

what is medical detox

In order to get through withdrawal, it is important to have a withdrawal management plan. This plan will vary depending on your own circumstances and what substance you are withdrawing from. Before you stop using a substance, you should consult with your doctor, who will advise you on how to do so safely.

If you are at high risk of developing severe withdrawal complications, this plan may include a period of medical detox. This can take two forms:

  • Inpatient detox: you spend a few days in a detox facility, where medical professionals will monitor you throughout your withdrawal and treat symptoms as they arise
  • Outpatient detox: you continue to live at home, but you go to outpatient appointments at a hospital or clinic, and receive visits from a nurse

Any medical detox plan should be customized for the individual. Even when two people are withdrawing from the same substance, their withdrawal management plan may be different. The levels of intervention will vary from one person to next, ranging from simple wellness checks to the use of medication to manage symptoms or cravings.

Is Unsupervised Detox Ever Safe?

No one should attempt detox from any substance without at least talking to their doctor beforehand. In some cases, your doctor may advise that it is safe for you to go through your detox at home, or in another safe environment. This is more likely if the substance is known to not have dangerous withdrawal symptoms, if you have a strong support network of family and friends, and if you do not have a prior history of substance abuse and withdrawal.

If you go through detox at home, you should avoid being alone. Have someone with you who can get medical attention to you should the need arise.

Getting Help For Drug And Alcohol Detox And Rehab

At Thousand Islands Rehab Centre, we provide medical detox in a safe, compassionate environment. Our team of medical professionals will ensure that you are safe and comfortable throughout your withdrawal process. Once detox is complete, you will be able to enter a rehab program on a fully customized plan, to begin your road to recovery. Contact us today for more information.

Categories
Drug Rehab

Drug Detox Process

Millions of people globally suffer from addiction. It ravages its victims and ruins lives. Most individuals know someone with a substance abuse problem.

Addiction is a chronic dependence on a substance or activity that has serious psychological or physical effects. It always begins with one drink or one visit to the Bingo parlour. Slowly individuals become more and more dependent on a substance or behaviour as they build up a tolerance.

Research tells us that individuals with an addiction need treatment that is specifically designed to their own needs, and that professional help vastly increases the chances of success. A rehab centre or hospital will develop a personalized treatment plan, and the first step will be drug detox.

What is Drug Detox?

Detoxing from drugs involves clearing the body of substances and managing any withdrawal symptoms that occur. The entire process may take anywhere from a few days to several months. For example, alcohol leaves the body after a few days but the withdrawal symptoms can last much longer.

There are two ways to stop using drugs or alcohol – gradually or all at once. Stopping suddenly, or “cold turkey”, can be extremely dangerous and should never be done without medical intervention. Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are great, but when you are ready to quit, you need more specialized help.

Medical detox is withdrawal that is done under the supervision of medical professionals, either in a treatment centre or hospital, or at home. This ensures that the possible side effects from detox, such as cardiac arrest or seizures, can be managed. Doctors may also use drugs to manage the withdrawal symptoms so that quitting is less dangerous.

Designing the plan

designing the plan

The first step in the drug detox process is assessment by a doctor or medical professional, who will then create a plan tailored specifically to the individual. This will involve weaning the person with the addiction from the substance in order to safely remove it from the body.

The plan will depend largely on what substance the individual is addicted to.  Most experts agree, for example, that it is dangerous to quit prescription drugs like opioids or valium “cold turkey”, so they substitute other medications to wean the body off slowly.

In some instances, doctors will provide the patient with prescription drugs that mimic the substance in order to ease withdrawal symptoms. The health care providers will then taper the individual off these substances.

How quickly a patient is weaned depends on several factors, including the substance and how long the addiction has been going on. If someone is a heavy user of cocaine or heroin, for instance, they may need a complex detox plan that includes prescription drugs and several weeks of treatment. Those who have been addicted for a shorter time, or who are at lower risk of withdrawal effects, may only need a few days of observation and monitoring.

Types of Drug Detox

Substance abuse disorder is a mental health problem that has physical and psychological effects.  Detoxing without medical intervention, alone and with no guidance, is not advisable. This is because a person who is heavily addicted to drugs or alcohol may develop severe withdrawal symptoms if they try to quit abruptly. These symptoms can be dangerous – they often include rapid heart rate, hallucinations and seizures.

There are two types of detox treatment: inpatient or outpatient. With outpatient treatment, detox takes place under the guidance of staff in a doctor’s office, rehab centre or hospital, but the individual does not stay there. In the case of inpatient treatment, the person temporarily stays at the facility.

In many cases, detox involves a combination of settings. For example, the patient may stay in a hospital for the first few days, and then attend medical appointments on an outpatient basis for several weeks.

The determination of inpatient, outpatient, or combined treatment depends on a variety of factors, including the substance that was abused, the severity of the addiction, whether there is a prior history of substance abuse, and whether there are any other health problems.

Outpatient Detox

People who go through outpatient detox live at home and continue participating in their regular activities, while attending appointments with one or more medical professionals.

The detox program will look different for each individual based on their needs and circumstances. People who don’t need a lot of supervision might just check in with the health care provider at scheduled times. Those who need more supervision will have regularly scheduled visits, and they may also receive home visits from nurses. Some people attend a daytime program at a hospital or substance abuse treatment facility but go home at night.

Outpatient treatment tends to be less expensive than inpatient treatment. In all other respects, the treatment goals are the same: to ensure that the patient is safe and comfortable throughout their withdrawal process.

Inpatient Detox

The primary benefit of inpatient drug detox is the round the clock care that a patient receives. This is crucial if the addiction is very advanced or the withdrawal symptoms are severe. It can be dangerous to quit any drug without medical support, but some substances, like opioids and alcohol, post a higher risk.

Inpatient detox offers everything that outpatient treatment offers. This includes group counselling, withdrawal medications and medical intervention.

Intensive inpatient medical rehabs offer the highest level of care and monitoring. These programs can keep you safe and medically stable while you taper off dangerous drugs.

A typical day involves a visit with a doctor, carefully planned meals, withdrawal symptom management, group counselling and exercise.

Many facilities offer both detox and rehab, meaning that when the patient has completed their detox, they can go straight into a drug rehab program.

inpatient detox

At Home Detox

At home drug detox may seem like a desirable option, but it is generally not recommended. Withdrawal symptoms are often dangerous, and being at home by yourself means you do not have access to medications and treatments designed to make the process safe and comfortable.

Detox at home may be safe for some substances, such as marijuana, but this should only be done after consultation with a doctor who has determined that you are at low risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. In no circumstance should you be alone during your detox period.

Where to Go for Support

At Thousand Islands Rehab Centre, we offer medical detox and addiction rehab. Our team of dedicated medical experts will supervise you and keep you safe through even the toughest of withdrawals. You will be in an environment where you can get the drugs or alcohol out of your system while you start to regain your physical strength. All detox and rehab programs are customized to the needs of each individual. Call us today to find out more. Don’t try to go through detox on your own. We are here to help you get started on your recovery.

Categories
Opioid Addiction

At-Home vs. Medical Detox: Which Is Better?

Quitting use of drugs or alcohol is not as simple as – well, quitting. It takes time for any substance to fully work its way out of your system and for your body to start working normally again. During this process, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that range from being mildly uncomfortable to downright dangerous. In some cases, unsupervised withdrawal can be fatal.

There are several factors to think about when deciding how and where to detox, one of the biggest being the substance that you are withdrawing from. In this article, we will discuss withdrawal and why it happens, the key differences between at-home and medical detox, and how to figure out which one is best for you.

What Is Withdrawal?

The primary reason people abuse drugs and alcohol is because it makes them feel good. These substances do this by artificially triggering the brain to release “feel good” chemicals, such as dopamine. This results in feelings of euphoria, tranquility, confidence, and any number of other positive emotions. The more drugs you use, the more you need: as you develop a tolerance for the substance, you need to ingest more in order to achieve the same effects.

While this is happening, your body is getting used to receiving regular doses of the substance. Eventually, you may reach a point where your body is operating more with the drugs than without them, and a dependence develops. This means that the body is so accustomed to the substance that it goes into varying degrees of shock when the substance is withheld. The result is withdrawal symptoms that range from being mildly uncomfortable to potentially fatal.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

The nature and severity of withdrawal symptoms varies widely depending on a number of factors, the biggest of which is the substance you are withdrawing from. Some substances, such as marijuana, typically produce withdrawal symptoms that are mild and pose no danger. Others, like alcohol, are associated with dire withdrawal effects like delirium tremens, seizures, and cardiac arrest.

Other factors that may impact your withdrawal experience include:

  • Your age, weight, and sex assignment at birth
  • Whether you have any coexisting physical or mental illnesses
  • Whether you are using any other substance, including prescription medications
  • How long you have been using drugs or alcohol for, your frequency of use, and your dosage per use

Different substances produce different withdrawal symptoms, but there are some symptoms that are common across most substances.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

opioid withdrawal symptoms

Early opioid withdrawal symptoms include a runny nose, watery eyes, fever, sweating in the absence of physical exertion or external heat, and dilated pupils.

These symptoms may give way to nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, bone and muscle pain and weakness, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, and agitation/restlessness.

Sedative Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from sedatives such as benzodiazepines takes place in three stages:

  • Early withdrawal: gastrointestinal pain or discomfort, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, restlessness, and panic/anxiety
  • Mid-stage withdrawal: fever, sweating in the absence of heat or activity, insomnia, shaking, loss of appetite, diarrhea
  • Late withdrawal: hallucinations, agitation, erratic blood pressure and heart rate, seizures

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal can result in headaches, insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, gastrointestinal pain or discomfort, and loss of appetite. Some individuals experience a severe form of withdrawal called delirium tremens, which is characterized by elevated blood pressure and heart rate, hallucinations, disorientation, fever, and sweating in the absence of activity or heat.

Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine can lead to exhaustion, depression, restlessness, irritability, and an increased need to eat and sleep.

Why Does Detox Location Matter?

Like other parts of your recovery process, your detox plan should be customized to your unique needs and circumstances. Some people anticipate mild withdrawal, and may be able to detox safely at home. Others are more likely to experience more intense withdrawal symptoms and would be safer in a detox facility.

Medical Detox

For some people, medical detox is the only safe way to stop using a substance. If you choose this route, you will be admitted to an inpatient detox facility, where you will be supervised by a team of medical professionals throughout your detox process. You will be kept as comfortable as possible, and withdrawal symptoms will be treated as they arise. In some cases, you may be gradually withdrawn from the substance. Medication is often used to treat cravings and/or withdrawal symptoms.

Many addiction rehab facilities have on-site detox clinics, in which case you are generally able to go from detox straight into a rehab program. However, there are some facilities that are dedicated to detox only. If you are not able to get into a rehab facility immediately upon completing detox, or if you choose to not go to rehab, you will need to have a relapse prevention plan in place.

At-Home Detox

at-home detox

Not everyone needs medical detox. If you are planning to go through withdrawal at home, there are some things you should consider:

  • Avoid being alone. If you do not live with anyone, arrange to have a trusted loved one with you, who can help you pass the time when you have cravings, ensure that you are eating and hydrating, and get you medical attention if needed.
  • Stock up on nutritious meals before you start your withdrawal. Prepare meals in advance.
  • Hydration during withdrawal is important. Ensure that you have access to plenty of drinking water.
  • Have a post-withdrawal plan set up. When your withdrawal is complete, your recovery is just beginning. Your plan might simply consist of going to rehab, but it could also include an outpatient program or a schedule of activities to follow at home.
  • If you do relapse, talk to a doctor as soon as you can. Any relapse has the potential to make further detox/withdrawal attempts more complex.

Which One Is Best?

Some factors to consider when choosing between withdrawing at home or going to a medical detox facility include the following:

  • The substance you are withdrawing from: some produce inherently more dangerous withdrawal symptoms than others
  • Prior substance abuse history
  • Whether you have coexisting conditions that need to be managed during withdrawal
  • Whether you have a strong support system in the form of close friends and family members
  • Whether you are pregnant or using any prescription medications

In all cases, it is wise to talk to your doctor before starting your withdrawal. Your doctor will help you determine, based on your individual risk factors, what your best detox/withdrawal option is.

Detox And Rehab In One Location

At Thousand Islands Rehab Centre, we will support you right from the start of your recovery journey, including detox. A team of dedicated, compassionate medical professionals will keep you safe through the rigours of withdrawal. Following that, we will put together an addiction treatment plan that is customized just for you. For more information, call us today.

Categories
Addiction

15 Ways To Overcome An Addiction

While most addictions begin with a voluntary action, no one uses a substance with the intention of becoming addicted. Most people can have a beer or accept a prescription for painkillers without incident. Tragically, others fall down a rabbit hole of addiction that can be difficult to get out of. This can have far-reaching effects on your physical and mental health, as well as your relationships and financial security.

The good news is that many people have overcome their addictions and gone on to lead full, productive lives free from drugs or alcohol. In this article, we will go over some things you can do to overcome your addiction and reduce your risk of relapse.

#1 Build Up Your Physical Strength

While addiction is largely a problem that affects the mind, it can be extremely hard on the body. Most substances come with elevated risks to your physical health, such as heart disease, liver or kidney malfunction, respiratory disorders, and long-term changes to the chemistry of the brain.

In addition, if you are overusing drugs or alcohol, you may unknowingly be neglecting other aspects of a healthy lifestyle. Your food intake may be lacking in both quality and quantity, you may have stopped going to the gym, and your sleep may be irregular and filled with nightmares.

One of the first things you should do once you have gone through the withdrawal phase of your recovery is take action to regain your physical health. Establish healthier eating patterns and engage in physical activity. Keep well hydrated and make sure you get enough sleep.

#2 Address Underlying Causes Of Your Addiction

Addiction rarely exists in a vacuum. For a lot of people, it is a symptom of an underlying problem, such as stress or trauma. If you stop using drugs or alcohol but don’t try to resolve the reasons you were using them in the first place, chances that you will suffer a relapse are high.

Addiction rehab programs exist for this very reason: to help you work through those challenges that led you to your addiction. This is done in a variety of ways, such as individual or group therapy, or therapies using creative media like music or art.

For some people, addressing the underlying causes may mean finding an alternative treatment for a condition that a medication was prescribed for. If you have become addicted to that medication, the original condition still needs to be treated. A doctor or addiction psychiatrist will be able to help you with that.

#3 Work On Mending Damaged Relationships

mending damaged relationships

It has been said that no man is an island, and it is true that people who isolate themselves have poorer mental health outcomes. It is increasingly recognized that addiction is not only about chemical dependencies – it is also about the environment. If you have strong connections with the people around you, your chances of long-term recovery are much higher.

Unfortunately, relationships can be damaged during a period of addiction, and your recovery may need to include family therapy that will help you rebuild bridges with the people you love.

#4 Make A Relapse Prevention Plan

In many of life’s situations, having a backup plan is a good idea. We save money in case an unexpected expense arises. We take out travel insurance in case we get sick while visiting another country. When we go out during the fall, we take a sweater in case we get cold.

Addiction recovery is no different. While you should always be planning for success, you need to know and understand the warning signs of an impending relapse, and as soon as those signs start appearing, you should have a plan that you can set in motion. This could include having a trusted friend stay with you, getting in touch with your therapist, or returning to rehab.

#5 Be Willing To Let Go Of Harmful Relationships

While positive relationships are an essential part of addiction recovery, harmful relationships can set you back. Many addictions are rooted in relationships that are toxic or abusive. Some addictions are perpetuated by situations in which the addicted person is pressured by others to use drugs or alcohol.

Relationships that can be a positive element in your life should be mended. But if a relationship has potential to cause harm and hinder your recovery, you may need to evaluate whether it’s time to let that relationship go.

#6 Participate In Rehab Aftercare Activities

If you participated in inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment and your facility offers an aftercare program, you can derive significant benefit from taking part in it. Many rehab centres report lower relapse rates in clients who make use of the aftercare services, which usually include things like a support line, educational sessions, and follow-up sessions to monitor post-rehab progress.

#7 Join A Support Group

join a support group

Human beings are social creatures who crave a sense of belonging. We instinctively seek out people who have been through similar challenges, so that we can feel less alone and more understood. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous are a fantastic resource for people with addictions to get together and share their stories. Not only can you benefit from learning about the experiences of others, you can help those who are at earlier stages in their recovery than you.

If Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are not your cup of tea, you may be able to join a group therapy program in your area. Online support groups are also becoming more mainstream than ever before, popular because of how accessible they are.

#8 Avoid Big Gaps In Your Time

Author Shelley Shepard Gray said that “idle hands make fretful minds”. If you are new to recovery, large swathes of time can be overwhelming to you. Unoccupied time can give you too much time to think. You may start rehashing traumatic events from the past or questioning your self-worth. Depression and anxiety can creep in, starting as a trickle and gradually becoming a flood. Ultimately, you may start to feel nostalgic for your days of using drugs or alcohol, and this can set you on a downward slope to physical relapse.

If you are not working, use the time to work towards a goal. Pursue a hobby that may have become neglected during your period of active drug use. Embark on a project that has been at the back of your mind, like writing a book or redecorating your house. Take a class in something you have always wanted to learn. Even if you lack the financial resources to pay for a class, there are many free online offerings.

#9 Be Aware Of Codependency In Yourself And Others

Codependent relationships are extremely common in people with addictions. In a relationship like this, one person makes extreme sacrifices to make the other person happy. The other person, for their part, is only too glad to be the recipient of all of the attention. Codependency can exist in any kind of relationship, be it between siblings, a parent and a child, friends, or intimate partners.

In many cases, it is the loved one who is codependent and going out of their way to please the person with the addiction. This provides a perfect environment for the addiction to continue.

Codependent relationships are not necessarily doomed, but it takes work on the part of both people to stop the codependent behaviour.

#10 Learn How To Love Yourself

It is a tragic reality that many people with addictions suffer from low self-esteem. Addiction is often a precursor to suicidal thoughts and behaviour. Relapse can intensify this feeling, leaving you feeling as if you have failed in your attempts at recovery.

No matter where you are in your addiction journey, you need to know that you matter, that your life is valuable. Instead of focusing on trying to get other people to love you, learn how to love yourself. Remind yourself daily – hourly if necessary – of the unique qualities that make you special.

#11 Keep A Journal

Journaling can bring you all kinds of benefits. Writing engages both sides of the brain – the logical and the emotional. This makes it a cathartic activity that can help you in your healing, and it can help you find solutions to challenges. It reduces stress and boosts creativity, and if you build up a collection of journal entries, you will be able to look back at them after a period of time and see how much progress you have made.

#12 Celebrate Your Sobriety Milestones

celebrate your sobriety milestones

Addiction recovery is hard work. It is a long process that may involve a lot of difficult self-reflection and tough decisions. And as is the case with many tough challenges, success should be rewarded. Whether you have maintained sobriety for a month, a year, or a decade, take a moment to congratulate yourself and reflect on how far you have come. Make yourself a sobriety birthday cake, enjoy a celebratory picnic with your closest loved ones, or buy yourself that book or pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on.

#13 Look For Natural Dopamine Boosts

Many substances result in elevated levels of dopamine, which make you feel good. Dopamine is a chemical released by the brain that feeds our sense of reward and motivation. That is the hook that results in a lot of people becoming addicted, and it is what makes it so difficult to quit. If you are early on in your recovery journey, you may struggle when it comes to finding a sober way to feel good. Fortunately, nature has provided us with ways to boost dopamine naturally. These include:

  • Boosting your protein intake
  • Doing exercise you enjoy, from yoga to going for a run
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Listening to music
  • Spending time in the sun (with proper sun protection)

#14 Don’t Give Up If You Suffer A Relapse

Relapse can happen to people who are doing everything right. You never know when some crisis will come along and knock you off your feet. Some people relapse after a stressful life event like job loss or the death of a loved one. Others simply become victims of their own self-sabotaging thoughts.

It is important to understand that relapse does not mean your treatment has failed. Addiction is an illness, and like many illnesses, there can be setbacks during your recovery. If you suffer a relapse, identify what triggered it, learn from it, and continue with your recovery plan. Some people benefit from returning to rehab for a while, to reinforce what they have learned. Others are able to adjust elements of their lifestyle or alter their thinking with the help of a therapist. The most important thing is to not give up.

#15 Visualize Success

People tend to be most successful when they can visualize success. Create a picture in your mind of what your life will look like without cravings, and without all of the negative impacts of addiction. Imagine how you will handle stressful events without needing to use drugs or alcohol, and allow yourself to feel the sense of accomplishment that will come from that. Focus on what your outcome will be and how much better your life will be without the substance that you became addicted to.

At Thousand Islands Rehab Centre, we will help you build that resilience and develop the skills and tools to live a happy, productive life free from drugs or alcohol. With a customized addiction treatment program, you can create endless opportunities for yourself. Call us today for more information, or to reserve your spot.

Categories
Marijuana Addiction

Detoxing From Marijuana At Home

Whether you have become addicted to marijuana or another substance, the first step toward recovery is withdrawal. Once the drug is out of your system and all of the withdrawal symptoms are behind you, you can turn your focus to regaining your physical strength and delving into the root causes of your addiction.

The key thing is to get through withdrawal safely. For many substances, coming off a drug involves a lot more than simply ceasing your usage of it. It can entail withdrawal symptoms that are at best uncomfortable, and at worst fatal. This is why it is always a good idea to consult your doctor if you are considering quitting marijuana or any other substance. In some cases, you will be referred to a medical detox facility, where doctors can monitor your withdrawal and treat withdrawal symptoms as they arise.

The good news is that withdrawal from marijuana is generally not harmful or complicated as long as it is the only substance you have been using. The bad news is that use of other substances can create more intense withdrawal symptoms.

In this article, we will describe some common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal, and when it is safe to go through detox at home without professional help.

Is Marijuana Withdrawal Real?

An unintended effect of the normalization of marijuana for medical purposes is the misconception that “marijuana is good for you”. This notion is problematic for several reasons, one of which is that out of hundreds of strains of cannabis, only a few have applications as medical treatments. It also gives rise to the idea that since marijuana is not a harmful drug in the same way that heroin or cocaine are harmful drugs, withdrawal doesn’t happen.

Cannabis withdrawal is very real, though. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) cites that up to 47% of people who use marijuana regularly experience some form of withdrawal. Moreover, since the withdrawal symptoms include mood imbalances, some people may be thinking the cannabis is medicating their anxiety or depression when in actuality, it is alleviating withdrawal symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms Of Marijuana Withdrawal?

As with most substances, the withdrawal symptoms vary from one person to the next. Factors affecting the nature and intensity of withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Your age, weight, sex assigned at birth, and general state of health
  • How much marijuana you were using and with what frequency
  • Whether you are using other substances, including prescription medications

The more common symptoms of marijuana withdrawal include the following:

  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Increased feelings of anxiety and/or depression
  • Cravings for marijuana
  • Decreased appetite that may be accompanied by nausea
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Restlessness

What Causes Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms?

what causes marijuana withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms of some kind happen when you stop regular use of almost any substance, including everyday substances like caffeine or sugar. Using a substance like marijuana on a daily basis causes an artificial boost in certain chemicals released by the brain. These chemicals control things like how good we feel and how creative we are in any given moment.

If you stop using marijuana after prolonged regular use, your body is in a position of having to rely on natural production of these chemicals. The problem is that it takes time for the natural receptors to return to normal. You experience withdrawal symptoms as your body and mind struggle to adjust to the deprivation.

Is It Safe To Go Through Marijuana Detox At Home?

Withdrawal from some substances, such as alcohol and methamphetamine, can be extremely dangerous when there is no medical supervision. Fortunately, marijuana does not fall into this category. If you are not using any other substances, you will probably be able to go through detox at home.

The most successful at-home detox efforts are well planned. Here are some things you should take into consideration:

  • Stock up on a good source of hydration, such as sports drinks. You may not feel like eating during your withdrawal, but you have to stay hydrated. Sipping on a sports drink that contains electrolytes can help with your fluid intake if you are experiencing nausea or abdominal pain.
  • Don’t go through this alone. Even though cannabis withdrawal symptoms are relatively benign, you may experience mood swings or anxiety that seem overwhelming. Having a trusted friend or family member with you can help get you through those moments.
  • Plan some activities. Withdrawal often comes with feelings of restlessness, and this can be hard to bear, especially when combined with cravings. You may be able to alleviate this by going for walks or keeping your hands busy.
  • Make a plan to manage your cravings. If you are making a concerted effort to quit marijuana, the last thing you need is for your friendly neighbourhood dealer to pop around for a cup of coffee. This is another reason it’s beneficial to have a trusted loved one with you: they can screen any visitors or calls for you, and they can help ensure that you do not get your hands on any marijuana.
  • Be prepared to seek medical attention if needed. Marijuana does not produce medically harmful withdrawal symptoms, but if you are taking other substances, your withdrawal may be complicated. Even a legitimate prescription medication can make your body or mind behave differently if you are in a state of withdrawal.

Marijuana Detox And Rehab In A Beautiful Location

At Thousand Islands Rehab Centre, we provide everything you will need for a safe detox and a comprehensive addiction recovery. People start using marijuana for all kinds of reasons. In younger people in particular, marijuana use can be a sign of a troubled home or school life, and getting away from that environment can be hugely beneficial to healing. We will put together a marijuana addiction treatment plan that is customized to your needs and circumstances. With perseverance and determination on your part and compassion on ours, you can recover from a marijuana addiction and go on to lead a happy, fulfilling life.

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Addiction Treatment

Available Treatments For Marijuana Use Disorders

There is a common misconception that marijuana is not addictive, and that therefore, marijuana addiction treatment is not necessary. The reality, however, is that regular use of marijuana can lead to addiction, especially in people who start using it during or before early adolescence.

Several factors play into the addictive nature of marijuana. One of these is the fact that it is easier than ever before to chemically enhance cannabis. This results in marijuana that in some cases is up to 200 times stronger than the weed from days gone by. An increasing body of research is showing that the effects of marijuana are amplified in young people whose brains are still growing and changing.

Another factor to consider is that marijuana is frequently used in conjunction with other substances, such as alcohol, heroin, or Ecstasy. This can create a dependency not on one substance, but on a combination.

The good news is that marijuana use disorders are highly treatable. In this article, we will talk about different ways in which you can recover, and the pros and cons of each.

Detox

The first step in any addiction treatment program is getting the substance out of your system in a way that is safe. Marijuana withdrawal is generally safe and does not require medically supervised detox. However, if you have been using marijuana with another substance, such as alcohol, you need to be more careful. Some substances can produce withdrawal symptoms that are potentially harmful, and your safest option is to check into a detox facility where medical professionals can deal with withdrawal symptoms as they arise.

Inpatient Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Inpatient rehab is generally the most effective way to treat most substance use disorders, including marijuana addiction. During your treatment, you will be on-site at the treatment facility 24/7 for several weeks. You will follow a schedule that is laid out in your treatment plan, and you will have everything you need to get you through your early recovery. Meals and accommodation are provided, all of your therapy and medical appointments are right there, and a variety of recreational options will be provided for your down-time.

Advantages

The biggest advantage of inpatient marijuana addiction treatment is that you can put yourself at a distance from all of the challenges of the real world, which allows you to focus on your recovery without distraction. You don’t have to worry about your troubled relationships, your toxic work environment, or making sure you pay the bills on time. Your only job is to focus on your rehab.

Other advantages include the following:

  • You don’t have access to marijuana, or to the real-world triggers for using it
  • You are living among people who have their own journeys, but understand the challenges of addiction
  • You have access to physical and mental health support whenever you need it
  • You will have a set schedule to follow, and this can benefit those in need of structure
  • All of your addiction treatment sessions are right there, which sets you up for early success

Disadvantages

One of the biggest barriers to inpatient rehab for many people is the expense. Marijuana addiction treatment in a private inpatient facility will set you back several thousand dollars a month. While this may seem a lot, it is important to remember that it includes everything: accommodation, meals, all therapy sessions, and some recreational options. In addition, you may be able to claim some or all of the cost from your medical insurance company or take advantage of financing plans.

Money is not the only potential problem, though. Not everyone is in a position of being able to step out of their lives for weeks at a time. Some people have to show up at work, bring in an income, and manage the home. You may not have a trusted person who can take care of children or pets for a few weeks, and mortgages and bills don’t just go away.

The transition back to the real world can also be a challenge. While it’s highly beneficial to leave your problems behind while you go to rehab, those same problems may still be there when you get out. Without proper planning, returning to your life can be difficult.

Outpatient Marijuana Addiction Treatment

outpatient marijuana addiction treatment

The challenges of inpatient rehab shouldn’t stop you from getting help, though, and there are some excellent outpatient programs available for people with marijuana use disorders. With this kind of treatment, you continue with your daily life while attending treatment sessions at the appropriate intervals. If you have high motivation to recover and a solid support system of friends and family members, you can achieve great success with an outpatient program.

Advantages

From a practical standpoint, outpatient rehab is more manageable for many people than inpatient rehab. Here are some of the advantages:

  • It costs less than inpatient rehab
  • You continue to live at home and participate in your usual daily activities
  • You can practice the tools and skills you learn in the real world immediately
  • You may be able to taper off your sessions gradually, unlike inpatient rehab which has a definite end date
  • As challenges arise in your life, you can bring them to your treatment sessions and get guidance on dealing with them

Disadvantages

Outpatient rehab is logistically easier than inpatient rehab, but it does not have the same effectiveness. Some disadvantages of this kind of marijuana addiction treatment are as follows:

  • If you are not highly motivated to recover, you may find it easy to bail on your sessions
  • The stresses and challenges of your everyday life may be a distraction to your recovery
  • If you start to experience cravings, you can access marijuana easily
  • If your personal relationships are troubled, this can indicate a weak support system, and this makes outpatient recovery more difficult

A Compassionate Approach To Treating Marijuana Use Disorders

All human beings are unique, and no two addiction stories are alike. No matter what led you to addiction and what your circumstances are, Thousand Islands Rehab Centre can provide you with a personalized marijuana addiction treatment program that addresses your specific needs. We follow a holistic approach that recognizes you not as a “drug addict”, but as a person with a debilitating condition and, above all, the potential to heal and lead a full and happy life. For more information, contact us today.

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Marijuana Addiction

Marijuana Addiction Recovery: What Is The Process?

Many people believe that marijuana is not addictive. The increasing use of cannabis to manage medical conditions perpetuates this misconception. After all, if something is being used as medicine, how bad can it be?

A key point to remember is that there are hundreds of strains of marijuana, with new ones being created all the time. Each strain has its own unique properties and effects, and only a few of them can be used for medical purposes.

In addition, any substance, legal or otherwise, has potential to be overused. Marijuana is the second most commonly used substance in Canada, second only to alcohol. Regular use over a prolonged period of time can result in addiction, especially if such usage begins in early adolescence. Not only does youth increase the risk of addiction, it can result in more severe and long-lasting effects.

It is generally agreed among professionals that many people who use marijuana for non-medical purposes also use other substances, such as alcohol. Any time two substances are combined, there is a risk of chemical interactions that can range from uncomfortable to harmful.

Marijuana use disorders can develop over time without you or your loved ones noticing. This is especially true in a post-legalization world in which marijuana has a higher degree of social acceptance. It is important to monitor yourself for signs of addiction, so you can get help as early as possible.

It is critical to note that in Canada, it is still illegal to use marijuana if you are below the age specified by the province or territory you live in. This restriction exists for a reason: cannabis use by adolescents can be extremely harmful.

Signs Of Marijuana Use Disorder

There are some simple questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you have become addicted to marijuana. If you can answer “yes” to five or six of these, it may be time to seek help.

  • Do you habitually use marijuana for no reason?
  • Do you use marijuana immediately upon waking up in the mornings?
  • Does your life revolve around using marijuana?
  • Do you worry about finding a supply of marijuana?
  • Do you frequently use marijuana by yourself?
  • Do you use weed as an escape from problems?
  • Have you tried unsuccessfully to quit cannabis use?
  • Has using marijuana ever resulted in problems with memory, concentration, or motivation?
  • Have your loved ones expressed concern about your marijuana use?
  • If you don’t have marijuana, do you substitute another substance, such as alcohol?

Taking a marijuana addiction quiz may help you identify whether you have a problem. It is important to know that these quizzes are not diagnostic tools, they are guidelines.

Phases Of Marijuana Addiction Recovery

Your addiction recovery process depends on several factors, the biggest one being the kind of treatment program you choose. Some people simply stop using marijuana and rely on the support of family, friends and support groups. Others choose inpatient or outpatient rehab, and each facility has its own way of doing things.

In general, for those who do decide to seek marijuana addiction treatment, recovery happens in phases.

Detox

The good news is that marijuana is one of the easiest substances to withdraw from. Most withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable at worst, and none of them are known to be dangerous. The bad news is that withdrawing from marijuana may mean simultaneously withdrawing from another substance, such as alcohol or heroin. These substances can come with harmful withdrawal effects, which can be amplified or complicated by the withdrawal from marijuana.

If you are considering stopping use of any substance, even one with an image of being “harmless”, it is a good idea to do so under the supervision of a doctor. This ensures that you are safe and comfortable, and that withdrawal complications are managed as they arise.

Rehab

Once you have safely withdrawn from marijuana and any other substances, you can turn your focus to rehab. Most marijuana addiction treatment facilities will put together a customized treatment program that takes your unique needs and circumstances into account. The rehab phase may include the following elements:

  • Rebuilding your physical strength through nutrition and exercise programs
  • Exploring the underlying causes of the addiction, such as trauma or stress
  • Repairing relationships that were damaged during the period of addiction, and learning better communication and conflict resolution skills
  • Training in life skills like time management and goal setting, that will help you function effectively in your “real life”.
  • Calming practices such as yoga, mindfulness, and meditation

rehab

Transition

When you are approaching the end of your rehab program, you will need to start planning how to manage your transition back to your regular life. This is something you will do with your addiction treatment team, and it will cover things like:

  • Referrals to therapists in your area so you can continue the work you started in rehab
  • Sourcing in-person and online support groups
  • Putting together a relapse prevention plan
  • Establishing boundaries between you and anyone you will be living with or having regular close contact with
  • Putting together a daily schedule, so you don’t find yourself grappling with overwhelming swathes of empty time

Aftercare

Your addiction treatment does not stop the day you pack your bags and leave the facility. Recovery is an ongoing process that can be punctuated with setbacks, challenges and triumphs. It is increasingly obvious that people who receive some form of aftercare have better chances of achieving long-term recovery, free from relapse. Your aftercare program may include a 24/7 support line, follow-up appointments to monitor progress, and education and training sessions to help you and your loved ones better understand addiction and why it happens.

Where To Go For Marijuana Addiction Treatment

At Thousand Islands Rehab Centre, we believe that addiction recovery is always possible. No matter where you are in your addiction journey, we are ready to welcome you to our safe, non-judgmental environment that is conducive to true healing. We will work with you to put together a treatment program customized to your needs and circumstances, and we will be there through the whole process, from your initial detox right through to aftercare. To find out more, or to book your spot, contact us today.

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Alcohol Addiction

The Stages Of Alcohol Withdrawal And Their Symptoms

Alcohol is one of the most difficult substances to give up. This is partly because alcohol use is so socially acceptable – even expected in some cases – and partly because of the nature of withdrawal. Quitting any substance can be an unpleasant experience. In the case of alcohol, it can actually be dangerous if the right supports are not in place.

In this article, we will talk about the stages of alcohol withdrawal, what symptoms you may experience, and crucially, how you or a support person can tell when it’s time to call for medical help.

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

If you have been drinking large amounts of alcohol on a regular basis, you will have become used to it. You may still feel the effects of intoxication, but your body and mind will have reached the point of needing that alcohol in order to function. You may feel anxious or unable to concentrate without a drink, the smallest amount of stress can result in cravings, your hands may tremble until you’ve satisfied that thirst.

Why Does Alcohol Withdrawal Happen?

Most Canadians who drink do so in mild or moderate amounts – they do not experience withdrawal simply because they do not drink enough for their bodies to start relying on alcohol. The problem of withdrawal arises when you consume significant amounts of alcohol on a regular basis over a sustained period of time.

The more you drink, the more you need to drink: you may find yourself consuming larger amounts to achieve the same effects. Since alcohol is a depressant that slows down the central nervous system, your brain starts to compensate by producing what for most people would be an overabundance of natural stimulants, such as serotonin and norepinephrine.

If you abruptly reduce or eliminate your intake of alcohol, your body ends up with a massive surge of stimulants that have no place to go. This creates a potentially dangerous imbalance in your physiological functions, such as breathing and cardiac functioning.

The Stages Of Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal should be seen as a process that happens over a period of time rather than an event that is over and done with quickly. Many people believe that withdrawal is the process of the alcohol working its way out of your system, but it is more complex than that. Because of the physiological and neurological changes that happen, alcohol withdrawal includes a period of the brain chemistry trying to get itself back to the way it was prior to the period of alcohol abuse.

Stage 1: Tremors

tremors

5-10 hours after your last drink, you will start to experience the initial stages of alcohol withdrawal, which include:

  • Shaking or tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A raised pulse and/or elevated blood pressure
  • Insomnia, nightmares or vivid dreams
  • Hyperventilation
  • Anxiety and/or irritability

These symptoms typically peak after about 24 hours before starting to ease off on the second or third day. Some symptoms, such as insomnia and mood disturbances, can persist for several weeks or months.

Stage 2: Alcohol Withdrawal Seizures

Seizures can start between 6 and 48 hours after the last drink, although the risk is at its highest after around 24 hours. The frequency, duration, and severity of seizures depends on how heavily and frequently you used alcohol.

Stage 3: Alcohol Hallucinosis

12-24 hours after your last drink, you may see the onset of visual or tactile hallucinations. In other words, you see or feel things that are not there. Common hallucinations include the illusion of small moving objects and the sensation of crawling insects under the skin. These symptoms can last for up to two days.

The Dangers Of Delirium Tremens

Delirium tremens is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal. People at highest risk are those who have used alcohol extremely heavily over a long period of time, and people with a prior history of substance abuse. Delirium tremens causes dangerous changes in key physiological functions, like breathing, circulation, and temperature regulation. It can also temporarily reduce blood flow to the brain, leading to long-term cognitive difficulties. If left untreated, it can lead to catastrophic health effects and death.

The symptoms of delirium tremens include the following:

  • Dehydration: for a quick test, press down on a fingernail until it blanches. If it does not return to its normal colour immediately after being released, the individual is probably experiencing dehydration.
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Stupor, extreme drowsiness or loss of consciousness
  • Nervous or angry behaviour
  • A racing pulse and short, rapid breaths
  • Sweating to the point of soaking
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

If you are with someone who is experiencing these symptoms, it is critical that you get medical care for them as quickly as possible.

dangers of delirium tremens

Planning For Safe Alcohol Withdrawal

While it may seem that people with alcohol addictions are caught between two bad options – to quit or not to quit – there are things you can do to ensure your safety during the withdrawal process. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Book yourself into a detox facility. This way, you will have doctors and nurses taking care of you throughout your withdrawal, and treating withdrawal symptoms as they arise.
  • If you are unwilling or unable to go to detox, at least make sure you’re not alone. Go to a friend or family member’s house, or have someone stay with you. It is important to ensure that there is someone with you who can call for medical help should the need arise.
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers with you. This could include your local hospital, your doctor, and some emergency contacts.
  • Make sure there is an easy way to get to the hospital. Whoever is with you should know the route, and the car should have gas in it.
  • If you’re taking prescription medications, write down the names and dosages so that medical professionals can give you appropriate care.

Getting Help For Alcohol Use Disorders

Withdrawal is just the first step in your recovery from an alcohol addiction. At 1000 Islands Rehab Centre, we will get you through your detox safely, and then we will put together a customized addiction treatment program that will get you on the path to recovery. Call us today for more information, or to book your spot.

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Alcohol Addiction

How Quickly Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Start?

Alcohol addiction is a tragic condition that affects around 4% of the Canadian population. In 2016, almost 7,000 Canadians died as a result of liver disease, cancer, and traffic accidents attributable to alcohol. In addition to the health effects and loss of life, alcohol use disorders can have a significant economic and social cost, resulting in job loss , food insecurity, spousal separation, and the removal of custodial children.

One of the tragedies of alcohol addiction is that it is so difficult to overcome. Many people make unsuccessful attempts to quit drinking before they are finally able to enter into long-term recovery. This is because it does not take long for early withdrawal symptoms to appear. These symptoms are so uncomfortable – and sometimes dangerous – that the individual resorts to having a drink just to make them go away.

As difficult as it may seem when you are in the thick of it, you can quit drinking. The initial challenge is knowing how to get through withdrawal. In this article, we will talk about why withdrawal happens and how soon you can expect to start experiencing symptoms.

Why Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Happen?

If you regularly overuse alcohol over a sustained period of time, your brain is constantly exposed to its depressant effects. To compensate, it increases production of natural stimulants, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. If you suddenly deprive your brain of alcohol, it becomes flooded with stimulants. The excess results in mental confusion and erratic changes in the way your breathing and circulation are controlled. Harvard Health Publishing likens this to a speeding vehicle abruptly losing its brakes.

What Are The Signs Of Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome, or AWS, is a condition affecting people who have developed a physical dependence on alcohol, and then abruptly reduced their alcohol consumption.

What Is Alcohol Dependence?

alcohol dependence

While most people who consume alcohol are casual recreational drinkers – in other words, they drink moderate amounts of alcohol simply because they enjoy it – there are some who drink in order to achieve the effects that alcohol produces. For example, you might drink because it generates a feeling of confidence, or because it reduces social anxiety.

The problem is that over time, it takes progressively larger amounts of alcohol to achieve these effects, and the more you drink, the more stimulants your brain produces to compensate. This results in a situation where your body needs alcohol in order to function.

A Sudden Reduction In Drinking

The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Edition 5 (DSM-V) stipulates that a condition for diagnosis of AWS is a sudden reduction or cessation of alcohol consumption after having been a heavy drinker for a sustained period of time. This is a fairly subjective criterion: DSM-V does not quantify either the amounts of alcohol consumed or the duration of the heavy drinking.

Additional Diagnostic Criteria

DSM-V lists eight primary alcohol withdrawal symptoms. In order to be diagnosed with AWS, you need to be displaying at least two of these in the absence of other medical causes.

  • Anxiety: new onset of anxiety symptoms, or exacerbation of symptoms in people with pre-existing anxiety diagnoses
  • Psychomotor agitation: restlessness, inability to sit still, self-stimulating activities like nail-biting and pacing, tapping the hands or feet, irritability or anger, bouts of tearfulness
  • Autonomic hyperactivity: arousal of the autonomic nervous system resulting in sweating, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth, lightheadedness, and stomach cramps
  • Hand tremors
  • Insomnia: difficulty falling or staying asleep, or difficulty going back to sleep after waking up
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Hallucinations: may be visual, auditory or tactile
  • Tonic-clonic seizures: also known as a grand mal seizure, this results in severe muscle contractions and loss of consciousness

How Soon Do Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Start?

Alcohol withdrawal is a process rather than an event. There is a wide variety of withdrawal symptoms, and they appear, peak, and wane at different points of the process.

Initial Withdrawal Symptoms

If you have been drinking significant amounts of alcohol on a regular basis over a period of time, you can typically expect your first withdrawal symptoms to start about eight hours after your last drink. These symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, nausea and stomach cramps.

The initial withdrawal symptoms start as mild discomfort and get progressively more uncomfortable, peaking after around 24 hours. It is during this time that a lot of people with alcohol addictions relapse, preferring alcohol over the withdrawal symptoms.

Stage Two Withdrawal

At around the time your initial withdrawal symptoms are peaking, you may start to experience the next phase of symptoms. These include high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, elevated body temperature, and confusion.

Stage Three – The Danger Zone

2-4 days after your last drink, you may start to experience seizures, hallucinations, fever and agitation. In severe cases, you may experience delirium tremens, a severe withdrawal complication that can be fatal. Symptoms include seizures, disorientation, delirium, panic attacks, hallucinations, extreme shakiness, and loss of consciousness.

danger zone

Getting Through Alcohol Withdrawal Safely

The withdrawal process generally lasts for 5-7 days, although some of the psychological symptoms may endure beyond that.

Many people feel that they can break their dependence on alcohol simply by quitting drinking. It is not impossible: a lot of people have begun their long-term recovery in this way. It can be dangerous, though, especially if you have been a heavy drinker for a long time.

If you want to quit drinking, follow these tips to ensure your safety and reduce your risk of relapse:

  • Book yourself into a detox centre. This will ensure that you have medical attention throughout the most dangerous parts of withdrawal.
  • If you are unwilling or unable to go through medical detox, ensure that you are not alone. Get a friend or family member to stay with you.
  • Keep your phone charged in case you have to call for medical help, and ensure that emergency services have a way of getting to you.
  • If you are using any prescribed medications, write them down along with the dosages. Keep this list nearby or on your person so medical professionals can find it.
  • Make a plan for what happens after detox. Your chances of maintaining sobriety are vastly improved if you enter an addiction treatment program.

Getting Help For Alcohol Addiction

At Thousand Islands Rehab Centre, we offer customized addiction treatment programs for people who want a life without alcohol dependence. We recognize and value the uniqueness of all people. No two addiction journeys look the same, so it makes sense that everyone’s recovery will look different. Call us today to learn about our alcohol addiction treatment programs. We will take care of you through detox and rehab, and our aftercare program will ease your transition back into the real world.

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Addiction

Symptoms Of Drinking Too Much Alcohol

Alcohol is like many things in life: in moderation it can be good, but overconsumption can lead to disaster. And like many things in life, it can be difficult to draw the line between what is reasonable and what is too much. The line is in a different place not only from one person to the next, but from one occasion to the next for the same person.

In other words, you might have a different level of tolerance to the person standing next to you. And what you consume today with no ill effects could give you a splitting headache next week.

This line is further blurred by the fact that alcohol inebriation is not merely accepted, in some instances it is celebrated and sought after. How many times have you heard someone state their intention of getting drunk at an upcoming party? Or brag about how many drinks they had last weekend? How often have you seen the most impaired person at a gathering being lauded as “the life of the party”?

In this article, we will look at some signs that it may be time for you to switch to water, and we will look at the troubling and sometimes tragic phenomenon of alcohol overdose.

How Much Is Too Much?

According to Canada’s low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines, people assigned male at birth (AMAB) should limit consumption to 15 drinks a week and no more than three drinks at a time, while those assigned female at birth (AFAB) should not exceed 10 drinks a week and two drinks at a time.

It is important to understand that these guidelines are based on generalizations about how AFAB and AMAB bodies work. People who are AFAB have lower body weight and blood volume, but their body fat percentage is higher, which puts them at higher risk of long-term health effects from overconsumption of alcohol. In addition, they produce less alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme, meaning their bodies do not break down alcohol as efficiently as the bodies of AMAB people.

Safety Limits Vary From Person To Person

The guidelines are just guidelines. Actual safe alcohol consumption limits vary widely from one person to the next based on several factors, including the following:

  • Age, weight and state of health
  • Whether you are taking any medications and if so, what those medications are
  • Whether you are pregnant or breast/chest-feeding
  • Whether you have a prior history of substance abuse

If you are in any doubt about if or how much alcohol you can consume, it is important that you seek the advice of a licensed medical practitioner. What is safe for your neighbour or relative may not be safe for you.

How Do I Know I’ve Been Drinking Too Much Alcohol?

In general, the human body is capable of metabolizing one standard unit of alcohol per hour. If you consume more than that, you will start to feel the effects of mild alcohol intoxication. These include the following:

  • Overinflated sense of confidence
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Talkativeness
  • A sense of relaxation or tranquility
  • Mildly impaired motor skills, such as unsteadiness on the feet
  • Reddening or flushing of the skin

If you continue to drink in spite of these symptoms, you may experience moderate intoxication, which has the following signs:

  • Mood swings
  • Inhibitions that are lowered to the extent that you engage in potentially high-risk behaviour, such as driving impaired
  • Increased motor skill deficits, slurred speech, and blurred vision
  • Confusion, impaired attention, and poor judgment
  • Reduced reflexes and reaction time
  • Sleepiness
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting

Legal Driving Limits Do Not Mean Safe Driving Limits

Few people would argue that driving while impaired is extremely dangerous, not only for the person driving, but for any passengers as well as other users of the road. In Ontario, the maximum legal blood alcohol content (BAC) while driving is 80 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood, which translates to BAC of 0.08.

It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with BAC over this level, and many people use this figure to determine how many drinks they can have in order to legally drive. But the question should not only be about legality, it should also be whether it is safe to drive. People have different levels of tolerance. One person can be over the legal BAC without showing any signs of impairment, while someone else could have a fraction of the legal BAC and be obviously intoxicated.

The best course of action is to avoid any drinking and driving. Arrange for alternative transportation prior to the party, or leave your car at the venue, get an Uber or a cab home, and retrieve your car the following day.

driving limits

The Dangers Of Alcohol Poisoning

When you consume alcohol, it gets absorbed directly into your bloodstream through the stomach wall, and it immediately starts to circulate through your body. A single glass of wine or a beer are not likely to produce effects: your blood will pass through your liver, which will break down the alcohol so the body can get rid of it.

But the liver can only do so much. The more you drink, the more alcohol you will have circulating in your body while the liver is working overtime trying to deal with it all. As the alcohol is being transported to various parts of your body, you start to feel the effects of intoxication.

If you continue to drink, you can eventually get to the point where the parts of your brain that are responsible for supporting life start to shut down – examples include breathing, heart function, and temperature control.

What Are The Symptoms Of Alcohol Poisoning?

The symptoms of alcohol poisoning include the following:

  • Difficulty maintaining or regaining consciousness
  • Slow or irregular breathing: fewer than eight breaths a minute, or gaps of at least 10 seconds between breaths
  • Vomiting
  • Extreme mental confusion
  • Slow or irregular heart rate
  • Loss of reflexes
  • Skin that is cold or clammy to the touch, or skin that is pale or blue-tinged
  • Seizures

How To Help Someone Who Is Experiencing Alcohol Overdose

If you are with someone who is showing signs of alcohol overdose, it is imperative that you do not leave them unattended. They could be at risk of falling or choking. Immediately call for medical help, and stay with the person until help arrives.

If you can, get the person onto the ground in a sitting or semi-reclined position. If they are lying down, roll them onto their side.

When paramedics arrive, be prepared to tell them everything you know about what and how much the person drank, and whether they used any other substances or medications.

Getting Help For Problem Drinking

Located in a beautiful setting, Thousand Islands Rehab Centre provides customized alcohol addiction treatment programs that respect and value the uniqueness of all people. We provide an environment conducive to healing, and you will be guided by staff who are compassionate and non-judgmental. Call us today to learn more, or to get started on your healing journey.