Taking a decision to seek treatment for an addiction requires courage and a great deal of trust between a patient and a therapist. Most of the times, patients continue with their addictive habits without realizing the repercussions or avoid asking for support fearing stigma and discrimination.
One of the preliminary and important steps in weaning off the drug effects is detoxification whereby the body is cleansed off the toxins accumulated from long-term substance abuse to prepare it for further stages in the recovery cycle. Detox is also aimed at replenishing the lost nutrients and strengthening the body with essential vitamins and minerals.
Sometimes, the body might undergo withdrawal problems during detox, like splitting headache, sweating, aching muscles and diarrhea. The mind also has a difficult time coping with internal and external changes which can result in emotional outbreaks in the form of disorientation, anger, fear, guilt and shame. Therefore, along with physical detox, it is indispensable to have an emotional detox to align mind with body.
Although the therapist would make sure to look after the requirements of both the mind and body, here’s something that a person recovering from addiction can do to heal emotionally during detox:
- Accept and allow it to happen – The most important step is to accept the emotional upheavals and understand that it is normal to have them. Sweeping them under the rug will only exacerbate the problem. The emotional turbulence needs an outlet. Therefore, do not fight with it, let it happen and get released from the system through tears, screams or any other way. A person is bound to feel lighter once he or she lets these emotions find a vent.
- Write or talk to someone – Arrange for a journal and write about the intensity and the types of emotions. It is important to be honest and write exactly how one feels. If writing is not possible then a person can open his/her heart in front of a friend to feel lighter and see the brighter side of life. If one makes expressing emotions a habit, over a period of time the same emotions will stop disturbing, get milder and cease to leave an impact.
- Practice self-love – Self-love comes from acceptance, while self-hatred stems from denial. During days or years of addiction, the person tends to neglect the overall well-being of the body. In the course of detox, one should be kind and compassionate towards oneself and try to avoid self-loathing. The person should discuss the problem with the therapist and show willingness to participate in activities that bring peace to the mind and reinstate self-confidence.
- Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness is a skill that can be mastered over time. Choosing to remain in the present moment can be a liberating experience. Not dwelling in the past and not getting anxious about the future is a good way to ensure that all the energy is directed towards the present and the person is mindful and respectful of the recovery.
- Ask for support – Sometimes, despite trying our best, we fail to conquer our emotions. At that time, it is important to reach out for personal or group support to address the underlying issue. One should remember that it is indispensable to be honest during the detox phase and taking support does not make one less of a person.
Road to recovery
Addiction is a chronic disease, which doesn’t go away on its own. Sometimes, a person spends considerable part of life with an addiction. It is important to have patience and a positive attitude towards detox and the entire recovery process. To begin the journey towards sobriety, one should be first willing to take it.