My addiction was so out of control that I ended up in prison for drug trafficking. Prison is rough, but I couldn’t help but think about everyone I let down. My parents in particular. No parent wants to go to sleep at night knowing that their child is in prison.
All I could think about was how much they were tortured by this. I know that they blamed themselves. They felt like they had failed. It was bad enough to be grappling with these feelings, but dealing with these issues while withdrawing from drugs made it a hundred times more difficult.
When you go through withdrawal, you must face everything that you have been avoiding. All that pain and heartache comes out full force and you can’t mask it anymore with the drugs.
When you are grappling with withdrawal, it can quickly lead you right back to the drugs. There is nothing more uncomfortable. It’s very difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t gone through it.
When do withdrawal symptoms begin? Typically within one day after you stop using the drug. And they come on very strong and very immediately. There are substance-specific withdrawal symptoms for each drug.
For example, some drugs may take longer to withdraw from. Some may include more emotional stress than physical stress. Although there are differences, there are more similarities than anything. It’s a lot of physical and emotional turmoil no matter what.
When I got out of prison, I went right back to my old ways for another year or two. When I finally did go to treatment, I was right back where I was before prison.
Pathfinders were so supportive to me while I navigated the withdrawal symptoms. They understand completely that it isn’t just me that needs to heal. Medical detox for withdrawal is the best way to go. It will benefit you much more than the dangers of withdrawing at home.
The physical and emotional distress is crippling. You won’t be able to do much on your own. You will definitely need a hand. Addiction may make us feel all-powerful at times, but it will eventually make us very weak. This weakness takes a long time to recognize sometimes. There are a lot of denials. We don’t want to admit that we are powerless.
Can withdrawals be fatal? There are certain situations where that is the case. This is another very important reason why you should do a medical detox. A cold-turkey detox vs. medical supervision looks much different. Withdrawal from alcohol can be fatal if not medically supervised. Benzodiazepine is another drug that can be fatal to detox from.
The physical withdrawal symptoms from any drug are going to be hard to get through, but the psychological withdrawal symptoms can really lead you to the brink. This is another example of how hard it is to explain to someone what it’s like who hasn’t experienced it. It’s a hell you never want to relive.
Withdrawal doesn’t look the same for everyone. Depending on how bad your addiction is, it can last weeks or even months longer than expected. These symptoms are referred to as post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
If you’ve been addicted for a very long time and you have a very high drug intake, the withdrawals can last a very long time. You may get through the physical part of it in the first few weeks, but you can still have physical symptoms much later.
The psychological symptoms include a lot of depression and anxiety. I have never felt that low in my life. Even when I was using drugs, I could at least temporarily heal the physical or emotional pain I was in. When you’re going through detox, you have to suffer through it.
If I’m making this sound not worth it, that’s certainly not my intention. It is worth every bit of pain that you feel. It was awful to go through, but when I came out on the other side I was a changed person after having that experience. I knew what true pain was.
I could see the damage that the drugs had done to my mind and body. I never wanted to go through it again. That’s one of the things that has kept me from using drugs again. I cannot imagine having to go through detox again.
I don’t try to fool myself. Just because I had that experience doesn’t mean I won’t slip up. There is a lot to be said for the phrase one day at a time. Recovery truly is a daily battle.
If I slip up and have to go through detox again, so be it. I know what it’s like to be sober now, and as I said, it’s worth all the discomfort. One of the fears about getting clean that a lot of addicts have is having to deal with withdrawal. It’s understandable to not want to go through that, but the way I see it is you either suffer through it or the drugs will eventually kill you anyway.
The treatment of underlying symptoms of withdrawal is more about monitoring than anything. The detox process is all about managing the symptoms and making you as comfortable as possible.
At Pathfinders they took great care of me and offered a combination of medications for withdrawal symptoms and mental health counseling. They do a good job of tapering medications so that you don’t experience all that discomfort at once. The last thing you want during this time is to feel the full force of the withdrawal.
One of the things you may encounter is a protracted withdrawal. What is protracted withdrawal? It is similar to post-acute withdrawal in that it refers to the discomfort you may face during your detox. It basically throws your body all out of whack.
Your sleep cycles are off and your emotions can vary from minute to minute. This is around the time when a lot of addicts may give up and not want to go any further. It’s hard to blame them, but if you’ve already made it that far, it’s best to submit to the process. Pathfinders did a great job of cheerleading me the entire way and not letting me slip up.
Going through the recovery process is like working toward your degree. You learn a lot, and you grow a lot. Not only did I become more educated on the subject of addiction, I learned a lot about how I got to this point.
I didn’t know why I became an addict or how. I didn’t really think about it. All I knew is that I needed the drugs to get by. I could not live without them. The idea of sobriety was so foreign to me that I would’ve rather died.
It’s remarkable that your mind can go to such a dark place. I remember wondering how regular people go through their day without being inebriated. How do people honestly do it? This isn’t an uncommon thought.
I learned through this process that most addicts have this feeling at one time or another. It made me feel a lot better to know that I wasn’t crazy having these thoughts. It helped my family a lot as well.
It made them feel much more at ease to know they weren’t the only family dealing with this. It can’t be stated enough that addiction support groups for parents are a very necessary part of this process.
There are a number of addiction support quotes that I constantly go back to. My favorite of them being “Don’t let the past steal your present.” Sometimes all it takes is a simple sentence such as this to keep you on track.
When I was newly sober, I spent a lot of time regretting my past decisions and the hurt that I caused. What could I do about it? How could I make it right? I learned that one way was to let myself off the hook and forgive myself. Self-forgiveness is huge.
My family also had to learn how to forgive themselves. You can spend the rest of your life wondering what you could’ve done differently. All you can really worry about is right now. Yesterday is over and done with.
We can learn from it, but we don’t need to be a prisoner there in our minds. It took a lot of reflection, but I embrace my past now because I wouldn’t have gotten to this point without the things that I experienced.
Not only have I grown as a person throughout my recovery, but my family has grown right along with me. We’ve grown together. We’ve all become more educated. They know what makes me tick.
They know what to say and what not to say. We don’t harp on the past. We don’t avoid it either. We talk about everything openly and honestly. This was not the case before.