Category Archives: Detoxification

Benefits To Quitting Drinking

What Are the Benefits To Quitting Drinking

The Benefits of Quitting Drinking: Living Out a Healthier Life

It starts out with just one drink at night to wind down from a stressful day at work. Then over time, a stash of alcohol is always available in the house. During busy days, drinking helps to get through the day and make everything more tolerable. During slow days, drinking is just a tool to pass the time. 

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “In 2019, 25.8 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge-drinking in the past month.” At the same time, the report concludes that “6.3 percent reported that they engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.”

The NIAAA estimated in 2019 that approximately 14.1 million adults, meaning individuals 18 and older, had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the United States. These large numbers are an indication of a widespread problem and struggle for many people across the country. 

An alcohol use disorder can have grave consequences. From financial troubles to maintaining healthy relationships, alcohol can negatively impact diverse areas in a person’s life. 

However, alcohol use disorder does not have to be a death sentence. In fact, each year plenty of people are taking the necessary steps to get the help and support they need to stop letting alcohol control their life. 

The benefits are numerous, and though it may sound stereotypical, turning away from alcohol as a crutch or solution has given many individuals a new chance and an opportunity to actively set fresh goals and build a healthier life.

What Does an Alcohol Use Disorder Look Like?

Before even considering cutting back on alcohol consumption or quitting it entirely, one might consider reflecting on how much alcohol they typically consume and how dependent they are on alcohol. 

There are many reasons for wanting to quit drinking alcohol that range from wanting better skin to lowering the risk of some cancers. For some people, especially those struggling with an alcohol use disorder, quitting drinking is something that marks the beginning of a new chance at life. 

So, what exactly does it look like for someone to experience an alcohol use disorder?

Firstly, it can be helpful to know that alcohol use disorder can have different levels of severity ranging from mild to moderate to severe, depending on the individual. Factors that determine the severity of an alcohol use disorder include the level of dependency on the substance and the number of symptoms experienced by a person. The greater the dependency and the more numerous the symptoms, the greater the severity.

Some common symptoms of an alcohol use disorder can include

  • Inability to cut back on amount of alcohol consumed despite wanting to
  • Difficulty limiting the amount of alcohol 
  • Strong urge to drink
  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol
  • Spending lots of time drinking
  • Using alcohol in dangerous situations

Meanwhile, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines heavy drinking as having five or more drinks in one session or 14 a week for men and four or more drinks in one session or seven a week for women. 

One drink is defined as

  • 12 ounces of regular beer
  • 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor
  • 5 ounces of unfortified wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor

Understanding the Health Risks of Heavy Alcohol Consumption

Over time, heavy drinking can really begin to take a serious toll on a person’s physical and mental health. Excessive drinking can reduce an individual’s ability to make proper judgments and can lead to risky or even dangerous behavior that can put an individual and surrounding people in harm’s way. Examples include drunk driving and an increased risk of attempting suicide.

Many physical problems can also be related to an individual’s heavy drinking. These issues include

  • Increased cancer risk
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Liver disease
  • Heart troubles
  • Congenital disabilities
  • Miscarriage

As we will explore below, these, among many others, are some of the physical risks that one can avoid or reverse by quitting drinking. 

Making a Change: Deciding To Quit Drinking

So, you’ve decided to quit drinking.

Deciding to quit anything that has been carried on as a habit for a long time is an important decision and is often admirable. However, the catch is that no matter how admirable or beneficial this decision may be, it does not mean that quitting drinking will suddenly be accomplished overnight. 

In fact, for someone who has been drinking heavily for a long period of time, it will likely be very challenging to quit, but it will not be impossible. Although millions of people struggle with their drinking habits, few of them ever seek professional treatment and support. A proper substance use treatment program can make a world of a difference for those serious about quitting and desiring long-term sobriety.

At Pathways Recovery, we offer a range of services that include alcohol detox, residential treatment, and an outpatient program. Our approach to treatment includes embracing the healing of mind, body, and spirit in all of our clients as they learn about tools and strategies to utilize in living out a long-term recovery.

Quitting drinking, or any substance, is often best accomplished through professional treatment programs. Learning more about addiction, relapse prevention techniques, and other lessons such as healthy stress management, all work to provide a structured system of support. These additional tools, alongside medical supervision, often yield better long-term results than going it alone.

Nevertheless, professional alcohol misuse treatment is no guarantee that recovery will be a walk in the park. In fact, part of the reason that quitting alcohol is so difficult is due to changes and interactions that occur in the brain when it interacts with alcohol.

First, alcohol can encourage the stimulation of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate pleasure. When this chemical is released, the brain’s reward system is affected. When drinking, this can encourage people to keep drinking or feel like drinking is a rewarding experience. Consequently, some people come to associate these positive feelings they have with drinking.

However, as a person continues to drink, encouraged by these rewarding feelings, the brain becomes more accustomed to these higher levels of dopamine. As the brain becomes more tolerant, the feeling of pleasure is harder to experience. In order to combat this, people will begin to drink more frequently, and in increasing amounts, to experience the same amount of pleasure.

Lastly, the more a person drinks, the more the brain needs to balance the effects of the alcohol as a depressant. As a depressant, alcohol slows the body’s systems. In order to counteract this, the brain will increase levels of glutamate activity. Glutamate is an excitatory chemical. The result of this interaction is that the brain becomes excited in the presence of alcohol and can remain in this excited state, even if the individual isn’t drinking in that moment.

Although there are many challenges to quitting drinking, for many people, the health benefits and feeling as though they’ve gotten a second chance at life is worth it. 

Learn About the Benefits of Quitting Alcohol

Quitting alcohol can result in numerous physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Read on to discover some of the most notable health benefits from quitting alcohol. 

Better-Looking Skin (Look Younger!)

Alcohol is well-known for causing dehydration. But dehydration isn’t just something that affects your unseen bodily systems and functions. Dehydration can result in apparent outward side effects through things like dry skin. Without proper hydration, skin loses some of its elasticity. Once someone stops drinking, skin can bounce back to some degree, especially the younger a person is. 

Alcohol can also cause some body tissue inflammation. Inflamed skin gives off a red flush, a condition that usually indicates someone has been drinking. Generally, flushed skin vanishes after alcohol leaves the body, but over time, this inflammation can damage skin.

Consistent, heavy drinking can also cause skin to sag and become loose. This is due to alcohol’s ability to lower a person’s collagen levels. Collagen is a protein that is known for its ability to strengthen tissue and connect skin cells. It’s also the most abundant protein in the body.

Individuals who have rosacea may also find their rosacea becomes very irritated and flares when consuming alcohol. In less common cases, alcohol may intensify the effects of rhinophyma, a condition colloquially known as “alcoholic nose” and an effect of very severe rosacea. Individuals with rhinophyma experience a red, bulbous nose.

Get Better Quality Sleep

Since alcohol is a depressant, it can make people drowsy. This drowsiness along with a lowering of proper motor function and coordination is why activities such as driving while intoxicated are illegal. 

However, when consumed often and in excess, alcohol can also lower the quality of sleep a person gets and can induce insomnia. Excess alcohol consumption can lead to more interrupted sleep, potentially causing daytime drowsiness.

Individuals with an alcohol use disorder often experience some type of insomnia symptoms. As alcohol interrupts REM cycles and causes sleep disruptions, people accustomed to using alcohol at bedtime can find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle. First, alcohol is used to fall asleep, but due to the poor quality of sleep, daytime fatigue sets in. In attempts to combat this fatigue, stimulants like caffeine are used during the day to combat tiredness. At the end of the day, an individual once again turns to alcohol in an effort to combat the effects induced by stimulants. 

In addition, individuals with sleep apnea may also find that their condition is exacerbated by excessive alcohol use. 

Achieve a Healthier Weight

Did you know that alcohol is actually very high in terms of calorie content? The calories in alcohol are called “empty calories,” meaning they provide little to no nutritional value to the body. Empty calories besides alcoholic beverages include calories that primarily come from sugar or solid fats. For example, empty calorie foods include treats such as cookies, cakes, muffins, and donuts. 

Oftentimes, these empty calorie foods and drinks are items that seem appealing and are often classified as desserts or something “extra.” Nobody truly needs to consume these types of items for nutritional purposes, but their sugar and fat contents make them delicious to eat. 

The calories from alcohol that the body processes are stored as sugar before being converted to fat. Just as people trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight make an effort to limit the amount of sweets they consume, individuals who give up or limit their alcohol consumption may find themselves losing weight. 

Reap Mental Health Benefits

Generally speaking, there is a prominently recognized link between heavy drinking and the existence of another illness, including mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. In fact, some individuals may turn to alcohol as a form of self-medication for their mental illness struggles. 

Unfortunately, it’s known that alcohol can actually worsen symptoms of mental illness. This can also cause a vicious cycle to form where people will try to self-medicate their symptoms of mental illness with alcohol, only to then realize they are still feeling poorly. To remedy this, they turn back to alcohol use only to find the symptoms getting worse, thus continuing this self-destructive cycle. 

Heavy drinking also causes a particular effect in people called a “moral hangover.” This term refers to feelings of uneasiness, regret, and guilt that can occur after doing something a person wishes they hadn’t done. People who struggle with an alcohol use disorder are more prone to carrying out poorly informed actions due to a warped sense of judgment that comes from excessive drinking.

Save Money

This benefit might seem a bit out of place amidst a long list of physical and mental benefits, but this benefit is certainly true! When someone drinks a couple of beers or goes through a bottle of wine in a week, the cost doesn’t seem to be too much. 

But when someone is drinking heavily every single day, the cost of continuously replenishing an alcohol supply can add up quickly and begin to take a financial toll. The prices can quickly add up when a person often frequents bars. Ordering cocktails and other mixed drinks at a bar tend to be more expensive overall when compared to just buying a six-pack of beer at the local grocery store.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism created an alcohol spending calculator that lets users input information about their drinking habits and find out how much they spend on average per week on alcohol.

Improve Nutrition

People who are chronic heavy drinkers are more likely to be at least a little bit malnourished. As previously mentioned, alcohol is full of empty calories that don’t really offer any significant amount of nutrition to the body. Instead, those calories are processed as sugar and later turned into fat. 

Excessive drinking can cause a person’s body to become depleted of important nutrients. When someone is a heavy drinker, there is a tendency to not pay as much attention to eating healthy, balanced meals with any kind of regularity. Instead, drinking takes up a lot of the time spent eating and comes to serve as a substitution of sorts. However, alcohol is hardly enough to sustain a person. 

As a result, individuals who struggle with an alcohol use disorder don’t receive the amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins they need. Substituting alcohol for carbohydrates, for example, less energy is obtained from the calories, which can lead to weight loss and malnourishment.

Low blood sugar is just one condition that follows malnourishment. Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can cause harm to a person if left untreated. The brain and various tissues require glucose to function properly, but individuals with hypoglycemia may experience injury in some form due to this lack of glucose.

Lower Risk of Some Cancer

Among populations of people who are heavy drinkers, certain types of cancers are more common. These include mouth and throat cancer, liver cancer, esophagus cancer, colon and rectum cancer, breast cancer, and larynx cancer. 

The National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists alcohol as a known carcinogen, a substance that has the potential to cause cancer in tissue. It should also be noted that carcinogens such as alcohol do not necessarily mean that a person who drinks will automatically get cancer because of excessive alcohol consumption. 

There are a variety of factors that can increase a person’s risk for developing an alcohol-related cancer. These factors include things such as how much time a person spends drinking, how long a person has excessively consumed alcohol, and how much a person will drink at a time. 

Avoiding alcohol altogether is a good option that can eliminate the potential for any alcohol-caused cancers to develop in the future, sparing a person’s physical and mental health, time, and money. 

Save Your Liver

It’s common knowledge that heavy drinking is very bad for the liver’s health, so it comes as no surprise that quitting drinking can put a person on the path to good liver health. 

Alcohol is processed through the liver and is not exactly the easiest substance for the body to process. When a large amount of alcohol is consumed at once, the liver works extremely hard to try and process it all. When this excessive consumption is repeated, the liver will eventually get tired from having to work so hard all the time. The liver was not meant to handle frequent, heavy periods of drinking, so over time, individuals who are heavy drinkers can develop various liver problems.

These problems can include hepatitis, fatty liver syndrome, and cirrhosis. All these conditions can result in worse overall health to an individual. 

However, choosing to quit drinking can prove to be a great move to keep your liver healthy. The liver is regenerative, meaning it can repair itself if given enough time. The liver constantly generates new cells to keep itself healthy. Alcohol can interfere with this regenerative process and obstruct the liver’s ability to create new cells. 

When a person quits drinking alcohol, the liver can repair itself in a matter of weeks to months on average. In some extreme cases, it may take a year or several years for the liver to fully rid itself of any unwanted byproducts. In even rarer cases, some damage is just too much for the liver to bounce back from, although most people generally experience a reversal of the damage in a matter of months or weeks. 

Strengthen Memory and Thinking Capabilities

Heavy alcohol usage has been linked to memory loss and increasing difficulties in focusing and remembering even recent events. In some cases, a person could experience a kind of permanent memory loss. With heavy alcohol usage, both short-term and long-term memory loss is possible.

Because alcohol is a depressant, it slows down the body’s systems. This means it also slows down how nerves communicate with one another, including in a part of the brain called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for helping create and store memories. When alcohol slows the process down, short-term memory loss can occur. 

Over a long period of alcohol consumption, the hippocampus can not only slow down, but it can suffer damage. Prolonged use of alcohol can destroy nerve cells, affecting both short-term and long-term memory. 

Some types of dementia, such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome has been connected with long-term heavy alcohol use. However, generally a person must be consuming 21 or more drinks a week for four years or more to experience long-term memory loss. Memory loss is a condition that will progress the longer a person has used alcohol in excess.

Maintain More Stable and Positive Social Relationships

When someone is a heavy drinker and is struggling with an alcohol use disorder, drinking takes up a lot of that person’s time. Their thoughts might be consumed with thinking about when they’ll have their next drink, and they might spend lots of time indulging in those drinks. 

As people begin to realize that the amount of alcohol they are consuming seems excessive, they might become anxious and fearful of having an alcohol addiction. Although supportive relationships with family and friends are very helpful to those struggling with an addiction, many individuals feel ashamed and push away their close relations. 

Some individuals with an AUD may also begin drinking as an answer to a lack of meaningful connection in their lives. Drinking and the drunken stupor that comes with it can be used as a safe space for some people. Drunkenness can be a means of avoiding painful emotions and create a temporary connection to something, in this case alcohol. 

However, this connection to alcohol is never as fulfilling as healthy, personal relationships with others. By quitting alcohol, a person can move away from the unfulfilling and shallow connections with drinking and begin to create meaningful, lasting relationships with peers.

Explore Personal Interests and Find New Hobbies

Drinking takes up a lot of time. People who find themselves addicted to alcohol will often spend most of their time thinking about the next time they will be able to drink, stockpiling their alcohol supply, and drinking. Then there are the consequences of heavy drinking to deal with: hangovers, illness, and general moodiness. 

Personal and professional relationships can suffer as a result of alcohol overconsumption. Some people struggling with AUD might find they are closing themselves off from others and pushing other people away. Instead, comfort and safety is found in getting drunk and detaching themselves from conflicts. 

Venturing beyond one’s comfort zone can be intimidating and even embarrassing, especially for individuals who feel guilty or have a very negative view of themselves due to their struggle with alcohol use. 

However, upon quitting alcohol, a person suddenly has an entire world of possibilities open to them. Time that was once spent drinking and feeling sick can now be spent on interior reflections and really taking the time to discover interests in the world beyond alcohol. After someone quits drinking, they can try out new hobbies they’ve always wanted to do like knitting, playing chess, starting a vegetable garden, or finally dedicating 20 minutes a day to exercise.

In the midst of AUD, it might seem as though the whole world has become so narrow that alcohol is the only path, but the truth is, there is a whole world out there waiting to be discovered. Finding interesting and meaningful hobbies and interests can put you on the path to living a fulfilling life without needing alcohol as a crutch or time waster. 

At Pathways Recovery, we are dedicated to helping each of our clients live out a healthier, better future. As an alcohol and drug residential facility, we help clients start their journeys toward long-lasting sobriety. Quitting alcohol won’t be easy, but with our comprehensive care, clients will find themselves surrounded by encouragement every step of the way. We know that the journey to long-lasting sobriety doesn’t just include not drinking. We’re committed to treating each client like the unique individual they are. Our treatment consists of treating mind, body, and spirit. 

Are you ready to turn your life around and quit alcohol? Call 916-735-8377 to speak with one of our compassionate team members and get started on a treatment plan that works for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to my body when I stop drinking?

If you are a heavy drinker, when you suddenly stop drinking you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include cravings for alcohol, sweating, trembling, moodiness, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, and headaches. 

On the more positive side, your body will gradually become healthier when you stop drinking. Excessive alcohol consumption can take a toll on your liver, heart, skin, and memory, to name a few. Over time, your body can recover from some of the damage that occurred due to heavy drinking. 

How long after you stop drinking does your body heal?

The timeline for the healing process will depend on the part of the body in question and the individual’s history with alcohol consumption. Individuals who have consumed alcohol at greater quantities for longer periods of time will likely take longer to heal than others. 

The human body, meanwhile, is remarkably adaptive and is incredible at bouncing back from injury. Liver damage caused by heavy drinking, for example, can repair itself in a matter of weeks to months, depending on the person. 

Damage to neural networks in the brain can potentially heal, but the timeline is longer and ranges from five to seven years. Of course, this process can also be slower or faster depending on the individual case.

Does skin clear up after quitting drinking?

Better skin is a benefit of quitting drinking. Alcohol can dehydrate the skin, causing it to lose elasticity and sag. It can also inflame the skin, making it appear red. Over a period of time, and with prolonged exposure to excessive amounts of alcohol, this inflammation can cause damage to the skin. 

Quitting alcohol can allow skin to remain better hydrated, and some inflammation can also calm down, leading to overall improved skin.

Can your body heal if you stop drinking?

Yes, in many ways your body can recover if you stop drinking. It’s common for individuals who quit drinking to note that they have more energy, are better focused, and just feel better overall than when they drank heavily. 

The body is amazing at adapting to its situation and can reverse some of the physical damage caused by drinking. Liver damage, for example, is reversed by the liver’s natural production of fresh cells, helping eliminate any unwanted byproducts in a matter of weeks or months.

Understanding Detox And Recovery From Suboxone

Understanding Detox And Recovery From SuboxoneWhen most people think of drug addiction, they think of marijuana, cocaine or heroin. However, prescription drug addictions are more common than ever. Addiction to one prescription drug often leads to other forms of addiction, particularly if your doctor has prescribed a substance to treat your original addiction.

Suboxone is one example of a drug that feeds off other addictions. Doctors prescribe Suboxone for patients already addicted to opioids such as OxyContin or heroin. However, patients can develop dependencies to this medication as well. If you are addicted to Suboxone, treatment for this substance and your original drug addiction is crucial.

Understanding What Suboxone Is

Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid medication, and naloxone blocks its narcotic effects. This way, a patient can take buprenorphine for chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia and other conditions without getting the “high” people often experience with opioids.

In theory, this should prevent opioid abuse. However, many patients overuse Suboxone for reasons other than highs. For example, they might use it in search of a better night’s sleep, or because their pain might be very severe.

Suboxone comes as a tablet and in a film or strip that dissolves under the tongue. Patients should never inject or crush Suboxone and mix it into liquid. Those who take this drug need to be tested frequently to ensure proper liver function. They must also wear medical alert tags or bracelets in case of an emergency, such as accidental overdose.

Complications From Suboxone Interaction

As with many other drugs, patients should never mix Suboxone with other prescriptions or alcohol. To avoid dependency, patients should not keep leftover Suboxone tablets or films, and they should endeavor to take Suboxone exactly as prescribed. Patients should consult doctors about missed doses: It’s often OK to let a missing dose go, but not always.

Suboxone and its variant, Subutex, are potentially dangerous prescription drugs. They underwent only 16 weeks of FDA testing before going on the market to treat addiction. Additionally, they remain somewhat obscure, receiving less research than similar drugs.

Suboxone Side Effects

What Are Suboxone Side EffectsSuboxone has a long list of side effects. Some are common and found with most prescription drugs. However, others are potentially dangerous. For example, Suboxone can make you extremely drowsy. This often leads to weakness and shallow breathing, which can cause severe respiratory distress and other life-threatening conditions, especially if the user has taken other drugs that slow the heart and breathing functions.

Nausea and vomiting are also common. Sometimes these side effects mimic withdrawal symptoms, even if you are taking regular Suboxone doses. Many people experience constipation, diarrhea and clay-colored stools, along with other gastrointestinal issues. Such issues may lead to malnutrition and overall debilitation. Contact your doctor immediately if you are struggling to eat and drink regularly while taking Suboxone.

Other Suboxone side effects also mimic other aspects of withdrawal. These include shaking, sweating and muscle pain or cramps. Patients who use the sublingual film may experience tongue pain or swelling. Numbness or redness inside the mouth is common as well. Arm and leg swelling also occurs, in many cases.

How Do I Know If I’m Addicted To Suboxone?

Due to its laundry list of side effects, it isn’t always easy to identify addiction to Suboxone or Subutex. Many patients do not seek addiction treatment until they experience overdose symptoms.

Early overdose symptoms include:

  • Clammy skin
  • Muscle flaccidity
  • Lowered heart rate and blood pressure
  • Circulatory or respiratory issues

If you suspect you are overdosing, contact your doctor immediately. He or she will treat the overdose and give you a full physical exam. The exam’s results will help clinicians tailor your treatment plan when you begin detox.

What To Expect During Detox And Recovery From Suboxone

Suboxone detoxification may feel harder than other detox regimens because it requires getting off a drug that was supposed to end a different addiction. During detox, you will probably deal with severe original symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia and panicking. This is why it is so vital to detox in an addiction treatment facility with professionals nearby to help.

Additionally, withdrawal from Suboxone or Subutex looks a bit different from most withdrawal processes. Many addicts mistake initial endorphin drops for withdrawal. However, true withdrawal does not begin until addicts start tapering off dosages. True withdrawal can take as long as 72 hours to begin, and the full process can last up to a month.

Many Suboxone withdrawal symptoms mimic those of other drugs, especially opioids. You will experience the worst physical and psychological symptoms within the first 72 hours after initial withdrawal. Symptoms include headaches, fever or chills, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Psychologically, you may experience resurgent original symptoms such as anxiety, agitation and insomnia. Some addicts get violent at this stage, but clinicians will help you avoid harming yourself and others.

During the first week of withdrawal, your physical symptoms will decrease, but you may still experience anxiety and mood swings. Within two weeks, the worst physical and psychological symptoms will decrease dramatically. However, you will probably experience cravings and depression. Inpatient treatment can help tremendously during this stage.

Suboxone Addiction Therapy

Addiction therapies will vary depending on your facility. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a must: Your therapist may use psychodrama or role-playing as part of it. Other facilities offer equine, art, music and recreational therapy, including group fitness classes, personal yoga, tai chi or qigong sessions.

Some facilities supplement detox with electroencephalogram (EEG) biofeedback, also called neurofeedback. Biofeedback helps you retrain your brain to respond to stress without opioids or Suboxone. Acupuncture may be a therapeutic option, and your health care provider may offer you vitamins and other supplements to reinstate proper nutrition.

Seeking Help For Suboxone Addiction

If you or a loved is suffering from Suboxone or Subutex addiction, contact Pathways Recovery right away. We will work with you, your physician and your family to determine a treatment plan that covers Suboxone and original opioid addictions.

Pathways Recovery is a prestigious detox treatment center that services the greater area of Sacramento. Here at Pathways Recovery, we know how hard it is to start the road to recovery from drug addiction and alcohol addiction while having compassion and patience for those recovering. We have many services to cater to each individual in regards to their lifestyle and budget. Our detox treatment center is made to make everyone feel safe and at home with many of our services, including opiate detox treatment

Contact us today for further information over our services and see which one fits for you or a loved one. Don’t think you are lone; we are here to help you on your road to recovery.

Understanding the Alcohol Detoxification Process For Recovery

Understanding the Alcohol Detoxification Process For Recovery

What You Need To Know Regarding Alcohol Detox

Alcohol is one of the most difficult substances for your body to stop. And, unlike many drugs, alcohol is legal and available in most places. Additionally, alcohol withdrawal symptoms set in quickly, about eight hours after your last drink. Many times, symptoms are so severe alcoholics give up on recovery before it has begun.

If you struggle with alcohol dependency, know that you can make a full recovery. Understanding what to expect from the detox process helps you stay physically and mentally strong. In addition, it is crucial to go through detox with a support system. Trying to quit alone lessens your chances for lasting sobriety.

The First Steps Toward Recovery

Because of how physically debilitating detoxifying from alcohol makes people, the process is best done in a facility with medical care, either inpatient or outpatient. At a facility, you have immediate and ongoing access to professionals, as well as other alcoholics who know what you’re going through and can lend support.

Before entering a detox facility, you should have a full health exam. This lets your doctor and other clinicians know how to help you. If you have particular needs that will influence detoxification, clinicians can tailor the process to fit them. Your doctor will continue monitoring your health throughout detox and recovery.

An Overview Of Alcohol Detoxification

Alcohol withdrawal happens in three stages with varying symptoms. The first stage can begin as soon as eight hours into detoxing, but it could take longer; some alcoholics don’t experience symptoms for a couple days. During the first stage, expect to symptoms to range from headaches and sweating to shaking and mild-to-moderate anxiety. Alcohol cravings are often intense in this stage. Stay close to professionals and other supports to avoid temptation.

Withdrawal usually peaks within 24-48 hours, though peak symptoms can last five to seven days. The symptoms include increased anxiety, confusion, and disorientation. Some alcoholics lash out or become violent. During peak withdrawal, physical symptoms become more severe, too. Your body temperature will fluctuate more; many alcoholics develop fevers at this stage. You may sweat and shake profusely, vomit, or have diarrhea.

Why Medical Care Aids Recovery

Some alcoholics experience Delirium Tremens, or DTs. This is a potentially dangerous medical condition involving the above symptoms as well as hallucinations or seizures. Hallucinations are usually visual but sometimes are auditory. Tactile hallucinations, such as the sensation of bugs crawling on your skin, are less common but not unheard of. Seizures may occur in short flurries, or you may experience more intense seizures at longer intervals. The longer you’ve had an alcohol addiction, the more at risk you are for DTs. Other risk factors also apply, such as being over 30.

During the final withdrawal stage, your symptoms will decrease considerably, but you may not be well enough to fight the mental need for alcohol, which can be extremely powerful. The third withdrawal stage is the longest and possibly most difficult. For some alcoholics, this stage lasts a month or more. You may experience symptoms periodically long after withdrawal is “over.” In such cases, inpatient treatment helps tremendously.

Have Support During The Detox Process

Many alcoholics believe they can detox alone, especially if they use anti-alcohol drugs. Drugs such as Naltrexone and Antabuse do help, but they are no substitute for medically assisted treatment.

Alcoholics are prone to risky behavior during withdrawal, especially if they were heavy drinkers before. Accidents, including head injuries, are common. Most alcoholics struggle to eat and drink properly during recovery, but not eating and drinking properly worsens symptoms. Additionally, the symptoms of delirium tremens and severe withdrawal can cause coma or death if left untreated.

An Overview Of Alcohol DetoxificationMany alcoholics have comorbid disorders – other dangerous disorders in addition to alcohol dependency. For example, some anorexics drink alcohol in place of eating, leading to a phenomenon called drunkorexia. Others have psychological disorders such as depression, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, and psychosis. If you know or suspect you have one of these, you need a dual diagnosis from a medical professional. Coexisting disorders often lie at the root of addiction, so treating them properly is crucial.

The Psychological Need For Professional Alcohol Detox

Recovering from alcoholism causes a range of emotions. You may feel sad, frightened, angry, or overwhelmed. Without healthy coping mechanisms, you will solve these feelings with alcohol. However, a facility like Pathways provides the psychological help you need. Counselors familiar with addiction will guide you through a number of therapies. Your treatment will include cognitive behavioral therapy and might include role-playing, equine therapy, recreational therapies, or music and art.

During therapy, you will gain the coping mechanisms and self-regulation to get control of your alcohol dependency. You’ll learn how to build healthy relationships, as well as how to repair the relationships alcoholism has damaged. Additionally, therapy will challenge you to change your thought processes. Negative thought processes like, “I’m worthless,” “I’m not good at anything,” or “I can’t change” drive people to unhealthy solutions. Once you learn to say, “I have value,” and “My life can change,” you will be less likely to return to addiction.

What Are Facilities Like?

Many alcoholics fear detox and recovery in a facility. They may picture Spartan environments where people will treat them without respect. However, most facilities around the country are the exact opposite. Many offer luxury treatment, because alcoholism recovery is such a personal and challenging process. Luxury facilities include private rooms, internet access, and more one-on-one attention than is typical in traditional facilities.

However, traditional facilities are often as warm and welcoming as luxury ones. In traditional setups, addicts receive access to a wide variety of therapies. Their meals are satisfying and nutritious, and they receive a balance of private time and time with others. For many facilities, including ours, the focus is on building rapport with clinicians and potential friends.

Learn More About Pathways Recovery’s Professional and Safe Drug and Alcohol Detox Program:

Pathways Recovery is a drug and alcohol detox provider around the Sacramento area. Our rehabilitation homes are located in a quiet and charming neighborhood where people who are recovering can heal comfortably. Not only do these communities provide a safe location for our alcohol detox treatment, but we also have nurses on site to help accommodate those that might need a little more assistance. Pathways Recovery is clean and comfortable, giving you a safe environment to detox from alcohol addiction and focus on self-care. Guests are monitored 24-7 by our staff of counselors who have years of experience in the mental and medical health fields.

Contact us today to find out more about how our drug and alcohol detox center can assist in freeing yourself from addiction.


Detoxing From Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepine WithdrawalsBenzodiazepines include brand-name anxiety/insomnia medications such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan. Over time, recreational and prescription benzodiazepine users can develop a dependency on the substance for its fast-acting, relaxing, and hypnotic qualities. In addition to short-term symptom management, medical providers also use the substance to calm patients before anesthesia or surgery or to lessen the symptoms associated with alcohol withdrawal.

Benzodiazepine drug abuse is typically defined as daily long-term use. After a period as short as three months of regular or daily use, an individual can experience the telltale signs of addiction, including cravings and a quick rebound of negative symptoms such as anxiety or sleeplessness.

How Benzos (Benzodiazepine) Affect The Brain

In the brain, benzodiazepines boost the effects of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), one of the most common central nervous system neurotransmitters. The acid blocks nerve impulses in the brain, which translates to psychological tranquilization. Under normal conditions, the body does an adequate job of releasing GABA as needed. Taking a benzodiazepine strengthens the power of GABA in the brain. When used as prescribed, benzodiazepines offer almost immediate relief (within 30 minutes) to those who suffer from panic attacks or extreme anxiety. When taken recreationally, the class of drugs acts as a sedative and numbing agent.

Over time, individuals may need higher doses of benzodiazepines to feel the same level of sedation. The substance creates both physical and psychological addiction, which may contribute to a more difficult experience with detox.

The Importance Of Detoxing From Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepine abuse and dependence affects an individual’s quality of life. Those who are dependent may display symptoms of detachment, sedation, and confusion or dementia. When taken with other drugs, benzodiazepines increases the risk for health complications such as respiratory suppression or coma. In extreme cases, it also contributes to overdose-related death.

Abusers may also exhibit a lost interest in life and life events and make excuses for not engaging in once enjoyable events. Detox allows recovering individuals to reconnect with the real world, regain a lost quality of life, experience clear-headedness, and regain a more positive attitude.

Detox Timeframe For Benzodiazepine Addiction

Depending on the type of benzodiazepine and the medication’s half-life, withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few hours or within a day. For those recovering from a powerful benzodiazepine drug such as Xanax, the effects of withdrawal can begin within 12 hours. Most addicted individuals overcome the worst of the detox period within two weeks, but residual side effects may last as long as a few months or years without medical support. Other factors that influence the recovery timeframe include genetics, dosage, the timeframe of addiction, general health and wellness, and mental health.

Symptoms Of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

During the withdrawal period, those in recovery can experience the following symptoms at various levels of intensity:

  • Returning symptoms of anxiety or difficulty sleeping
  • Severe panic or anxiety attacks
  • Muscle tension
  • Upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • Mood swings and agitation
  • Intense cravings for benzodiazepines
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

These acute symptoms may last a few weeks or several months, depending on the individual. In rare instances, someone may experience protracted symptoms that recur years after the detox period. Certain symptoms may affect some people more than others, while some people may go through the detox period with relatively few symptoms.

Additional drug addictions often play a role in benzodiazepine detox. When taken in conjunction with other addictive prescriptions or illegal drugs, the symptoms associated with benzodiazepine use may change.

Benzodiazepine Detox Often Requires Extra Help with the Right Medical Care Treatment

In most cases, people addicted to benzodiazepines can’t simply stop taking the drug and resume normal activities. Going cold turkey can result in serious medical complications, including severe muscle cramps and seizures. Instead, most addicts must wean off the medication or take additional prescriptions to reduce the risk of serious withdrawal complications. Only a qualified medical care professional can provide the right level of emotional, physical, and mental support.

Recovery programs often approach addiction from more than one angle. They help an individual move past the physical symptoms of recovery, but they also provide access to a support group of other recovering individuals. Some recovery programs also provide meaningful educational information so patients can regain their health and happiness.

At Pathways Recovery, we pride ourselves on the services we offer to those who are ready to take the next step to heal. Our services include, but not limited to, drug and alcohol treatment, outpatient rehab treatment, and benzo detox treatment. At Pathways Recovery, we also offer a holistic treatment plan for those who might need a little more assistance in our comfortable and safe drug and alcohol detox center located in a quite and friendly residential area.Contact us today for any questions or to speak with a highly trained member of our staff. The first step starts with a call today for a better tomorrow.

Fear Of Withdrawal Is Causing Unnecessary Overdoses From Opiate Abuse

Fear Of Withdrawals Causing Unnecessary OverdosesMany people with a drug addiction are supremely afraid of withdrawal. The symptoms can be debilitating and even dangerous. More than 2.1 million Americans use prescription opioids, and another 500,000 abuse heroin. Unfortunately, this fear of side effects could be causing unnecessary overdoses across the nation.

Why Withdrawals Have Become Dangerous

Symptoms from withdrawal can begin mere hours from the time of the last dosage—and that’s especially true for opioid addiction. Some types of opiates cause reactions more quickly. Each drug has a half-life, which is a measure of the time it takes for the original dosage to be reduced by 50%. The shortest-acting versions may offer symptoms anytime between 6 and 12 hours. Extended-release or other long-acting drugs may take 30 hours to demonstrate their effects. In most cases, the peak happens at around 72 hours after the last dose.

Often, people who abuse opiates are dependent on short-acting versions. Since symptoms begin to show so quickly, they take frequent doses. A dangerous concentration can be reached when they’re taken before the half-life.

The Horror Of Withdrawal

Early withdrawal signs are similar to a bad influenza virus. Low energy, insomnia, teary eyes, muscle aches, cold sweats, and runny nose are a few of the most common. The longer the body goes without the drug, the worse the symptoms become. More symptoms present as the effects peak, including:

  • Nausea
  • Visiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Drug Cravings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

Victims may feel like they’re in the throes of death. Even though these feelings are extremely painful, they aren’t fatal. They can be so severe, however, that sufferers will use more of a drug than necessary to stop the withdrawals—sometimes leading them to an overdose. Additionally, if an addict has another health issue, like a heart problem, the pain of withdrawal can be a strain and cause physical stress. In that sense, victims trying to detox alone can be at serious risk.

Methods Of Avoiding Withdrawal

It’s easy to understand why people will go to such distances to avoid withdrawal symptoms. In the mind of an addict, the easiest way to prevent any ill effects is to never come off of the substance. Users will take frequent doses and attempt to keep a constant high.

There are many dangers associated with this method of use. The most obvious are the general health risks associated with opiates. The longer a person uses the drugs, the higher the chance of these effects. The severity of the conditions is also related to the duration of use. Potential issues include:

  • Abdominal distention
  • Constipation
  • Liver damage
  • Brain damage

Out of fear of these symptoms worsening, some people will—instead of taking frequent doses—begin increasing the amount that they take. Bigger initial doses will often provide stronger immediate relief. Drowsiness, paranoia, lethargy, nausea, and respiratory depression are common after a user takes a larger dosage of the opiate than he or she is accustomed to taking.

The Dangers Of Coping Methods

The most dangerous aspect of these changes in dosing is overdose. When an individual takes more frequent doses, the drug level in his or her bloodstream gradually rises. The drug then compounds, reaching dangerous numbers without the individual fully feeling its effects.

Likewise, increasing dose presents a high risk (even greater than more frequent dosing). The person’s body is used to smaller amounts and may not be able to handle the sudden change. The problem is exacerbated when the addict has been off the drug for some time: not only is the body accustomed to smaller dosages, but it has also been weaning itself off the substance. What was a normal dose may now be too much.

What Happens During An Overdose

Overdosing shuts down a person’s respiratory system. Victims often lose consciousness, have pinpoint pupils, and endure seizures or muscle spasms. People who are overdosing lose the ability to respond to questions or call out for help, which makes using opiates alone so deadly.

Overdoses are often completely avoidable. People fearing the painful symptoms of withdrawal allow this trepidation to encourage excessive intake. Withdrawal is a terrible thing to go through, but there are ways to manage the pain and discomfort.

Alcohol Detox And Nutrition

Alcohol Detox And NutritionAlcohol is abused more than any other legal substance in the nation. In fact, almost a quarter of the population admitted to binge drinking sometime within the past month. There are significant fatalities and injuries every single day due to alcohol. Because of the negative short- and long-term side effects, many people are seeking treatment for alcohol dependence to get their lives back together. Detoxification is a necessary first step in the fight against alcohol addiction.

The process of detoxing cleanses the body of toxins while still managing withdrawal symptoms. However, ending an alcohol addiction can be dangerous. Sudden changes to the body are even fatal in some cases, and stopping drinking should always be supervised by an experienced medical facility. Going “cold turkey” should never be attempted without medical assistance from someone experienced in addiction treatment.

Once an individual chooses to detox, it’s completed in either inpatient or outpatient environments—typically dependent on the severity and duration of the addiction. There are three stages of this process: evaluation, stabilization, and transitioning to treatment. Each of them are an important part of ending an alcohol dependency safely and effectively.

Why Proper Nutrition Is Key

Detoxing from alcohol is a delicate time for the body because it’s going through so many changes. Although a reduced appetite may make food one of the last things on your mind, the best way to ensure quick recovery and overall health is to pay careful attention to your diet. The right foods can provide the nutrients necessary to heal and condition you for a future free from addiction.

  1. Stay hydrated – Lots of fluid is lost as your system flushes out and your blood alcohol level returns to normal. Withdrawal can present fatigue, anxiety, nausea, depression, and loss of appetite on its own. Any time these symptoms are coupled with dehydration, they’re exacerbated. It’s important to drink as much water as you can.
  1. Depend on liquid foods like soup – The initial detox period can be very taxing, and it’s not unusual for patients to have difficulty keeping food down. If you rely on liquids during this period, vomiting will be easier and more comfortable if it happens. You can also drink juices to help maintain your caloric needs.
  1. Don’t neglect your vitamins – Alcoholics tend to have several vitamin and mineral deficiencies because alcohol inhibits absorption. B vitamins are most commonly missing, and they’re needed to make energy. Vitamins A, D, E, and K should be supplemented as well. Aside from capsules and pills, they’re found in:
  • Fish (Vitamin A and D, if the fish is fatty)
  • Milk (Vitamins A and D)
  • Almonds and other nuts (Vitamin E)
  • Vegetable oils (Vitamin E)
  • Olive oil (Vitamin K)
  • Leafy greens (Vitamin K)
  1. Avoid excess sugar – Many people who are detoxing find themselves craving sweets and sugary snacks. Avoid eating empty sugar calories, like sodas, and instead opt for fresh fruits. Too much sugar can disrupt your metabolism, and in essence, slow the recovery process.
  1. Balance your diet – Consume a healthy number of fruits and vegetables. Moderate dairy and proteins as well as healthy oils like coconut oil.

Getting The Right Amount Of Exercise

Improving your physical fitness is beneficial as well. Conditioning the body will strengthen your systems, but exercise can also be a way to cope with the effects of addiction. Most people find relief and even euphoria after a workout. People benefit greatly if they can switch their urges to more constructive habits, like swimming or running.

Begin your exercise at a level you’re comfortable with that still offers a bit of a challenge. Rely on past experience to give you a starting point if you’ve ever routinely worked out before. If not, take small steps and set frequent goals. Reaching multiple, modest milestones can fuel a hunger for success and help a person achieve larger goals. These aims, along with the increased physical benefits of exercise, will fight off depression and make it easier to resist temptation in the future.

Detoxification is a fantastic time to build better habits and help your body recover. Focusing on a proper diet and exercise plan could be a crucial factor in the beginning of a new, alcohol-free lifestyle.

How Long Does Drug Detox Take?

How Long Does Drug Detox TakeAddictive substances change the body’s physical and psychological functioning. Over time, most individuals experience a level of dependence on the substance and suffer if they can’t access another dose. Even caffeine requires detox. Alcohol and harder drugs like prescription painkillers and cocaine may require detox before a person can begin the psychological healing process.

What Is Detox?

After a certain period of time without addictive substances, individuals start to experience withdrawal symptoms. The body craves another dose. When it doesn’t receive the drug, the brain may go into overdrive and experience an extreme reversal of symptoms compared to the drug’s effects. Signs and symptoms often appear shortly after a user abstains and may affect the mind and body for extended periods of time. Detox describes the timeframe when someone avoids a certain substance in an effort to rid the body of chemicals and toxins associated with drug addiction.

Detox will happen naturally given enough time, but medical professionals can use certain substances to counteract withdrawal symptoms and hasten the detox process. Every individual is different and may require a different approach, but some trends in detox timelines remain consistent for the general population.

Types Of Drugs And General Detox Timeframes

Different drugs affect the mind and body in different ways and may contribute to specific withdrawal symptoms. Consider the general timeframes for some of the most addictive substances recovery centers treat:

  • This class of drugs includes medications such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. Depending on the individual, withdrawal symptoms may appear as soon as one day or within a week of abstinence. During the first two weeks of detox, an individual may experience the most serious withdrawal symptoms. Common symptoms patients can expect to experience include increased anxiety, insomnia, headache, tension, nausea, difficulty focusing, high blood pressure, and heart palpitations.
  • Cocaine and other stimulants. Stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines tend to enter and leave the bloodstream quickly. The high an individual experiences typically doesn’t last long, and addiction patterns often involve bingeing on the substance.

After a repeated pattern of using, individuals can expect to experience a serious crash that may last as long as a several hours or several days. The initial detox period typically takes up to three weeks for most users. During this time, symptoms may include intense psychological cravings, anxiety, depression, hunger, fatigue, paranoia, and an abnormally low heartbeat.

  • Alcohol withdrawal can cause serious symptoms that may require emergency medical treatment. Symptoms may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks or months at a time, depending on the individual. Serious withdrawal symptoms are more likely to appear in individuals who drink a pint of hard liquor, 4-5 pints of wine, or 7-8 pints of beer on a daily basis over an extended period of time.

During the acute withdrawal phase, alcohol abusers typically experience the DTs (delirium tremens), a condition that affects the nervous system. Individuals may experience the DTs within a few days of avoiding drinking. It can cause tremors, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, and other symptoms requiring immediate intervention. Other alcohol withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, headache, and heart palpitations. Physical withdrawal symptoms may ease off after a week or so of detox.

  • Heroin and prescription-strength pain relievers. Opioid withdrawal from substances such as heroin, oxycodone, Percocet, and methadone may last anywhere from a few hours to several days or weeks. The worst symptoms typically arise within two days of abstinence. Symptoms often include dilated pupils, intense drug cravings, stomach upset, nausea, body aches, and agitation.

Unfortunately, information about a patient’s individual detox process and timeframe can’t be found online. A recovery specialist may provide more insight into someone’s situation, but every detox experience is unique. Factors that commonly affect the length and severity of the detox process include:

  • Genetic makeup
  • General health and mental wellness
  • The timeframe of abuse
  • The method of ingestion
  • The amount of substance taken with each dose

While the acute phase of withdrawal usually ends within a short timeframe, recovering drug addicts may experience psychological symptoms for a much longer period of time. Many require ongoing therapy in the first months or years after detox.

Can Addicted Individuals Detox On Their Own?

Most drug addicts can’t detox on their own. They require medical attention for physical and mental support and to decrease the likelihood of a relapse. Always consult a physician before undertaking any major changes in your lifestyle or medications (prescribed or not).

The Importance Of Good Nutrition During Detox and Recovery From Addiction

Pathways-- The Importance Of Good Nutrition During Detox and Recovery From Addiction -- 08-23-16Proper Nutrition During Drug And Alcohol Detox

The majority of people entering into a drug and alcohol detox program are suffering from poor nutrition which unless corrected will make their drug and alcohol detox harder than it needs to be, and the difficult side effects of withdrawals during drug and alcohol detox are one of the primary causes that people decide to quit their drug and alcohol detox program early and go back to using or drinking.  In fact it is becoming apparent that proper nutrition during drug and alcohol detox can drastically reduce the withdrawal symptoms and therefore allow for a better likelihood that the person undergoing drug and alcohol detox will complete their addiction treatment and continue to pursue a clean and sober lifestyle.

Alcoholic Vitamin Deficiency

Alcoholics, for instance, are typically low on thiamine (Vitamin B1) in their system as a result of their drinking, and if this deficiency is left untreated it can lead to wet brain syndrome.  This lack of thiamine is usually due to a poor diet, damage to the digestive system from drinking, and the fact that alcohol prevents the absorption of thiamine in the brain.  Therefore, it has been shown that providing large doses of thiamine during drug and alcohol detox can prevent the onset of wet brain syndrome, or at least shorten the time that the person needs to suffer the symptoms of wet brain syndrome during their drug and alcohol detox.

Opiate Addiction Nutritional Deficiencies

Opiate users, on the other hand, are known to suffer from a wide variety of nutritional deficiencies due to poor eating habits during their addiction as well as the physical side effects of heavy opiate abuse, and providing vitamins and supplements during drug and alcohol detox has been shown to lessen the withdrawal symptoms during opiate detox.  This is especially true for methadone addicts.  Methadone is one of the harshest forms of drug and alcohol detox and providing a well-balanced diet as wells as nutritional supplements during the drug and alcohol detox has been shown to shorten the duration of the side effects associated with methadone detox and therefore improve the odds that the person will complete their drug and alcohol detox and pursue further addiction treatment to remain clean and sober.

A Holistic Approach to Treating Addiction Through Nutrition

Addiction is a mind, body, and spiritual disease.  If we can reduce the anxiety and stress during drug and alcohol detox through the use of proper nutrition as well as nutritional supplements, then the person’s mind will be in a better place to cope with the behavioral changes that will be necessary for pursuing a clean and sober lifestyle after their drug and alcohol detox.  Of course, we also need to bring the body along for the ride during drug and alcohol detox or we are setting ourselves up for failure.  By providing proper nutrition as well as nutritional supplements during drug and alcohol detox, we can restore the proper balance to someone’s body chemistry which will reduce many of the physical symptoms associated with drug and alcohol detox and therefore improve someone’s overall feeling of well-being.

As for the spiritual side, it is critical that proper counseling be provided during drug and alcohol detox otherwise treating the mind and the body with proper nutrition will be useless.  Low self-esteem, for instance, is a common factor amongst addicts and alcoholics and it is important to start to identify the issues behind this during drug and alcohol detox.  If the spiritual side is not treated during drug and alcohol detox, then treating the mind and the body with proper nutrition will be fruitless.

At Pathways, we believe in an holistic approach to addiction recovery, and stress the importance of nutritional rehabilitation in the process.

Social Model Opiate Detox

Pathways -- Social Model Opiate Detox -- 08-23-16A Therapeutic Approach To Opiate Detox

For the 10% of the general population thought to regularly use opiates, many of them will become physically dependent on opiates-AKA addicted.  So, when they decide to get clean and rid their body of opiates they must go through what is commonly referred to as “opiate detox”.  For someone physically dependent upon opiates, an opiate detox can lead to a wide range of adverse symptoms.  Both the physical symptoms of opiate detox and the mental symptoms of opiate detox can be severe although rarely are they life threatening.

Physical symptoms of opiate detox:

  • Body Aches and Joint PainAnatomy Physical Symptoms of Opiate Detox
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Increased Tearing
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Cramping

If the person has been abusing opiates for an extended period, then the mental symptoms associated with opiate detox can include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation

Types Of Opiate Detox

In some detox programs, usually referred to as rapid opiate detox, the addict is completely sedated during the opiate detox so that they don’t have to feel the ill effects of their opiate detox.  This is accomplished in a hospital setting where the opiate addict is closely monitored by doctors and nurses.  While the effectiveness of rapid opiate detox programs for keeping opiate addicts clean for long periods of time is still up in the air, what is certain is that they are a very expensive and very quick way to get your opiate detox over with.

Medical Opiate DetoxIn more traditional opiate detox programs mild sedatives are used to treat the mental symptoms of opiate detox and other medications are used to treat the physical symptoms of the opiate detox.  Usually these programs are referred to as social model detox programs, or “non-medical” detox even though mild detox medications are prescribed to the clients.  The emphasis in these opiate detox programs is to seek more of a long term solution to the opiate addiction, and the programs don’t just focus on a medicinal approach but also incorporate therapeutic activities during the opiate detox like counseling and meditation to help treat the addiction.  Some of these opiate detox programs even employ therapeutic methods such as immersion in hot water to treat the body aches associated with opiate detox.  Generally a spa is made available to the addicts going through opiate detox, and this has been shown to dramatically reduce the body aches and joint pain associated with opiate detox without the need for additional narcotics used to treat pain.

Because social model opiate detox programs rely on a more long term approach to treating the opiate addiction, they don’t view opiate detox as a cure.  Instead, they almost always stress additional treatment for their clients after detox such as outpatient counseling, additional inpatient treatment, or possibly attendance at 12 step meetings.

Social model opiate detox is a cost effective way to get clean and sober and begin a life free from opiate addiction.


How COWS Can Help Assess Opiate Withdrawals

Pathways-- How COWS Can Help Assess Opiate Withdrawals -- 08-23-16Clinical Opiate Withdrawals Scale (COWS)

The clinical opiate withdrawals scale (COWS) is a pen and paper instrument that rates eleven common opiate withdrawals symptoms.  Once the score for all of the opiate withdrawals symptoms are summed up, the counselor or physician can determine the level of physical dependence on opioids as well as determine what stage of opiate withdrawals the client is in.  For each of the symptoms that are assessed, the rating is based solely on the relationship to the opiate withdrawals.  For instance, if the client was jogging prior to the test then their heart rate must be given a chance to return to normal prior to the test.

Clinical Test For Rating Withdrawal Intensity

Here is a brief summary of the COWS test for opiate withdrawal:

  1. Resting Pulse Rate: a score of 0 is given for a heart rate 80 or below while a score of 4 is given for a heart rate above 120.  There are various scores for heart rates in between these readings which can indicate the severity of the opiate withdrawals.
  2. GI Upset: a score of 0 is given if there have been no symptoms of GI upset over the last ½ hour while a score of 5 is given if there have been  multiple episodes of diarrhea and vomiting over the last ½ hour.  Again there are scores provided for GI symptoms in between these.
  3. Sweating (over the last ½ hour not caused by room temperature or patient activity): a zero is given is there is no reports of chills or flushing while a 4 is given if the opiate withdrawals are causing sweat to stream off of the face.  Other scores for symptoms in between these are also provided.
  4. Tremor: with outstretched hands if the client shows no indication of tremors or shakes then a score of 0 is given.  If the opiate withdrawals are causing gross tremors or muscle twitching then a score of 4 is given.  Other scores are given for symptoms in between.
  5. Restlessness: if during the assessment the client is able to sit still, then a score of 0 is give.  On the other hand, if the client is unable to sit still for more than a few seconds then they are given a score of 5 with other scores in between these based on their level of opiate withdrawals.
  6. Yawning: if during the assessment the patient doesn’t yawn, then a score of 0 is appropriate.  If, however they are yawning several times per minute then a score of 4 is given with other scores for symptoms in between.
  7. Pupil Size: 0 is given if the client’s pupils are pinned or normal for the ambient light.  A score of 5 is given if the opiate withdrawals are causing the client’s pupils to be so dilated that only the rim of the iris is visible.
  8. Anxiety or Irritability: 0 for none and 4 if the patient is so irritable or anxious that participation in the opiate withdrawals assessment is difficult.
  9. Bone or Joint Aches: if there is additional pain which wasn’t present prior to the onset of opiate withdrawals, the client is given a score of 4 if they are rubbing joints or muscles and unable to sit still because of the additional discomfort.  A score of 0 is given for no additional pain.  There are scores in between based on symptoms.
  10. Gooseflesh Skin: if the client’s skin is smooth, then a score of 0 is given.  If on the other hand, the opiate withdrawals are causing the client’s skin to have goose bumps and their arm hair is standing up, then a score of 5 is appropriate.
  11. Runny Nose or Tearing: if the client doesn’t have a cold or allergies, but their nose is constantly running or there are tears running down their cheeks then they warrant a score of 4 for their opiate withdrawals.  0 is appropriate if these symptoms are not present.

Once each criteria has been assessed then all of the scores are summed up to get a total.  The following scale is then applied to determine the level of opiate withdrawals: 5-12 mild; 13-24 moderate; 25-36 moderately severe; more than 36 severe opiate withdrawals.

The COWS assessment should be given only by a trained professional, but if you believe you or a loved one is undergoing opiate withdrawals then it would be beneficial to know the signs to look for. 

Get a Downloadable Version of the COWS Test HERE >>