Some people say the hardest part about addiction recovery is recognizing there's a problem in the first place. Actually, that part is pretty simple. When drug abuse get's out of hand, its effects are clear to see.
The hard part comes in the transition from abuse to the beginning stages of recovery. This is when the effects of drug withdrawal kick in. Withdrawals vary depending on the drug of choice used and the extent to which a person has been addicted.
Still, there's nothing easy about this stage of recovery, but there are ways to help yourself through this time.
Here are 8 things to do in order to overcome the challenges of drug withdrawal.
First things first, you have to relax.
Any form of drug withdrawal is really just your body freaking out because it wants the drug its been dependant on for so long. This creates mental and physical challenges that you have to be resilient about.
Some withdrawal symptoms include nausea, headaches, trouble sleeping, and loss of appetite. Other, more extreme things may be tremors, mood swings, intense anxiety, and vomiting.
Whatever you're going through, though, remind yourself why you're quitting drugs in the first place. Prepare for this part of recovery by setting up a relaxing environment and practicing naturally relaxing healthy habits.
One thing you can try to help relax the mind and body is yoga.
Yoga is a form of meditation that was created to awaken the muscles and the mind. If you feel weak during your withdrawal period, there are various forms of gentle, slow yoga to try, which are meant for beginners or for those who just need a break (like you).
You can go to a studio to feel the sense of community and support yoga offers, or do it at home in order to stick to a routine and make it a part of your daily habits.
Another way of supporting yourself as you come off of a chemical dependency is to change your diet.
This is especially important if you have a low appetite. You have to make an attempt to at least eat something, and it's best to eat wholesome natural foods over processed meals while handling a drug recovery.
Such efforts allow your body to offset any of the effects your drug of choice has had. Healthy foods can't solve all your problems, but they will be a great step in the right direction.
Speaking of eating right, remember to drink plenty of water, too.
Water is necessary for all functions of the body, addiction or not. Once your body has experienced addiction and is trying to recover, though, hydration becomes even more important.
Regardless of the kind of drug withdrawal symptoms you feel, you need to drink water. This can help give you a bit more energy, mental clarity, and facilitate your flow of oxygen if you're having trouble breathing.
If your body is feeling good enough to move around and you're just worried about the temptation of using your drug of choice, go do some form of a workout. This helps you focus your mind on other things and achieve some sense of mental clarity.
You may get this through running, lifting weights, cycling, or even rock climbing. Whatever kind of activity you're doing, just make sure it's a good one. The more time you spend working out and clearing your mind, the less of a chance it has to get cluttered with things like drug use or withdrawal symptoms you feel.
For an even better distraction, try out a new hobby. Again, just make sure it's a healthy replacement for the drug use you'd normally spend your time on.
This could be anything from creative activities - like drawing or playing music - to gardening, cooking, or even just reading. Anything that gets your mind off the drug withdrawal phase and helps you achieve a sense of clarity helps.
The thing about clearing your mind while experiencing drug withdrawal is that some form of temptation to give in is bound to come up. It doesn't matter how well you think you're doing, the experience can overwhelm anyone with its intensity.
One moment, you're fine, and the next, you could be experiencing a stronger symptom than you might have anticipated. That's why having a support system is crucial to getting through withdrawal.
In fact, this is one of the most important tools you'll need throughout your recovery. Talk to your close friends and family about your decision to quit. Have someone hold you accountable and maybe even be there with you as you take on the first few days without using drugs.
There's the support you get from friends and family, and then there's the help of professionals who have guided many an addict through drug withdrawal. Those are the people you want by your side.
Of course, this is not to say your loved ones aren't helpful resources. Rather, reaching out to professionals ensures a smooth, successful process from quitting to recovery. Plus, this keeps your loved ones safe from the potential emotional or physical pain your withdrawals can cause on them.
There are plenty of detox centers available to help you put down your abuse and pick your life back up. These are places that specialize in intense withdrawal treatment, particularly when an individual is experiencing multiple strong symptoms at once.
The silver lining about drug withdrawal is that they only happen for a short amount of time. This stage usually lasts anywhere from 24-72 hours.
But, it is arguably a more brutal time to experience than you're anticipating. As much as mental preparation and healthy habits help, the right support system is your key to making it through the other side of withdrawals drug-free.
That's where we come in. Contact us today to get started on your road to recovery!
Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on April 14th, 2018.