If you have finally made the all-important decision to get help for your addiction, you could be wondering what lies ahead. The promise of a sober life free from addiction is enough for many people to choose rehabilitation. Some, though, have a worry about what rehabilitation is going to be like and how they are going to feel going through the process.
Rehabilitation is tough, there is no doubt about that – but with the right support, it is manageable; once you have completed it, you will be ready to begin an entirely new life.
Something that many individuals are unprepared for, however, is the physical symptoms they may experience in early recovery. Many of these symptoms are related to recovery and, thankfully, most will resolve by themselves with time. Below we have listed a few examples of the common health problems those in recovery may face.
Years of alcohol abuse can damage the lining of the stomach, which can then cause problems such as bleeding and pain. Mild pain is typically related to the prolonged use of alcohol or other substances but will usually resolve itself within a few days. There are some over-the-counter medications that can help to relieve these symptoms, including antacids. You may have to watch what you eat as well. Nevertheless, if you are experiencing severe pain accompanied by signs of bleeding (black, tarry, or bloody stools) you should contact a doctor for advice.
Aches and Pains
Once the effects of alcohol or drugs have worn off, you could begin to feel aches and pains. Those who have been using for a long time may not have noticed these aches and pains but once they stop using, these feelings will become more pronounced. However, once the body begins to get used to living without drugs and alcohol, the aches and pains will ease; this could take a number of months, though. It is important to remember that these pains will pass – do not use them as an excuse to start drinking or taking drugs again.
Shortness of Breath
Some drugs, such as cannabis and cocaine, which tend to be smoked, can cause shortness of breath, and these symptoms can be present for up to a year. For some people, the breathlessness can be as severe as an asthma attack. Those who experience shortness of breath are advised to restrict strenuous exercise until the symptoms have passed. Nonetheless, breathlessness could be related to the stress the heart has been under during years of addiction so will need to be checked if symptoms do not ease up or if they get worse when lying down.
Constipation is quite common in early recovery and is a side effect of using drugs, especially opiates. It can take many weeks for the bowels to return to normal after quitting drugs or alcohol. Many recovering addicts may face periods of constipation followed by periods of diarrhoea.
Those who have been addicted to drugs that are smoked, such as cannabis and cocaine, may have developed an irritated respiratory tract, which can lead to a chronic cough. Instead of the cough getting better once they stop using these drugs, many people find that it gets worse. The reason for this is that the tiny hairs that clear the respiratory tract and that were paralysed by the drugs are now able to get back to work efficiently. They are now working overtime to get rid of the unwanted build up from the drug use.
The above are just a few examples of the common symptoms faced by those in recovery. Remember, many of these will pass with time. However, if you continue to feel unwell for long periods, it could be a sign of an underlying illness and should be checked by a doctor.