The majority of attempts to quit addiction never make it beyond the withdrawal symptoms stage. The physical discomfort and cravings that occur when the addicted person abstains from alcohol or drugs means that it will always be tempting to just give up. There is also the risk of these symptoms being so severe that the person needs to be medically supervised in order to stay safe. Here are just seven tips for dealing with withdrawal symptoms successfully.
1. Determine if You Need a Medically Supervised Withdrawal
If you have been abusing drugs such as alcohol heavily for a long time, there is a chance that you could experience severe withdrawal symptoms (delirium tremens). In this situation, it is vital that you have a medically supervised detox. Unfortunately, it can be hard to determine who is going to have severe withdrawals beforehand, so it is probably best to err on the side of caution.
2. Choose to Go to Detox Even if You Don’t Expect Severe Withdrawals
Even if you are expecting your withdrawal symptoms to be relatively mild, it is still a good idea to enter a detox programme anyway. Being in this environment means that you can be supported through the process, and there will be medications available that can ease your symptoms as well – this increases your likelihood of succeeding. Most rehabs offer a detox as part of their package, so it is recommended that you choose this option if you have not yet quit alcohol or drugs.
3. Have a Solid Reason for Becoming Sober
When entering the withdrawal stage, it will be helpful if you have a clear, solid, and compelling reason for becoming sober. Once these symptoms become unpleasant, it can prevent you from thinking clearly; as long as you have your reasons for quitting clear in your mind, it can act as a beacon to guide you through this period. If you are ambivalent towards recovery (i.e. you are doing it because you feel you ‘should’ rather than because you ‘want’ to), you are less likely to see withdrawals through to the end.
4. Get Some Support
Going through withdrawals will always be harder if you are going it alone. There may be moments during the process when you feel weak, but the right support will help get you through these times. Being around people who understand what you are going through can be a huge help; it also means you can benefit from the experience of these individuals.
5. Understand that Acute Withdrawals Only Last for a Short Time
Withdrawal symptoms are, for the most part, similar to having a bad cold or a mild flu. You are likely to experience a bit of discomfort, but it will not last too long. The fact that you know your symptoms is only temporary means you should not find them too hard to cope with. It is the knowledge that you could so easily escape these symptoms that makes them feel harder to deal with.
6. Keep Yourself Distracted
One of the most effective tools for dealing with withdrawal symptoms is distraction. If you dwell on your discomfort too much, it can have the effect of intensifying it. By finding things to keep you busy, you will not have so much time to be thinking about your symptoms, which makes these much easier to deal with. The worst thing you can do is just lay in bed and feel sorry for yourself, as this will mean suffering unnecessarily.
7. Don’t Expect the Worst
A self-fulfilling prophecy refers to a situation in which the act of predicting an event causes this event to happen. If you expect your withdrawals to be bad, you could end up focusing so much on your symptoms that they do feel much worse than they should. If you have a more positive outlook about the withdrawal process, you will find things much easier to cope with.