When people discover that I am a recovering addict they are completely shocked. If you met me now as a successful entrepreneur you’d never guess that just 9 years ago I was battling the formidable demons of alcohol and drug addiction, trying to exorcise them through an extensive detox that put my body through hell and back.
Every tough moment was worth it. Detox from alcohol or substance abuse is extremely hard but with the right guidance and support you can make it through to see the light at the end of a successful recovery.
I was lucky to have the loving support of my family, who despite being victims of my self-destructive addictions too, was there for me when I needed them most. Even when I was sent to prison on drug-related charges for two years, only to relapse when I got out and almost made the worst mistake of my life by ending it all, they were there beside me.
Without their help, I might not have made it through the detox process. I had been using hardcore drugs since age 19 and I started drinking long before that. I had a lot of junk to get out my system.
Recovery indeed wasn’t that easy and curing detox was was also the hardest thing. But ever since I cured it, I become healthy, happy, and can be the best of myself. If you or someone you know is facing detox from alcohol or drug abuse this information is going to be vital.
In this article, I want to share my experiences and advice on how to detox safely and effectively to get the best chance to a successful recovery. Here are my top 5 detox lessons I learned during my own rehabilitation.
- Put Together A Survival Kit
My first week of detox was a complete nightmare to be brutally honest. That week alone was almost enough to keep me from ever drinking again. The physical pain I went through was horrendous and my mental state was borderline insane.
It is no fun shivering like a terrified animal as pain wracks through your body, cursing the doctors and your mom for making you suffer. That was me for around 6 days but it was just the junk leaving my system.
In those 6 days, I had a small survival kit the doctors at the rehab center had put together. Painkillers, antiemetic meds that helped keep nausea under control and plenty of fluids, soups, and broths while my body went through the worst of the initial detox.
I also started drinking teas which were completely unheard of for me as a guy originally from Colombia, where strong black coffee is a staple. Chamomile and peppermint teas helped soothe my stomach cramps and pains in the first few days.
Despite feeling like warmed up crap for 6 days, each day that I felt better and stronger spurred me on and was absolutely worth it.
- HydrationIs Key
After a heavy night of drinking, I would always wake up feeling like I’d eaten the contents of a kitty litter tray. My mouth was usually drier than the Sahara and my head would be pounding about to explode. I’d always fix that with a couple bottles of Gatorade or even another beer.
My body must have been in a constant state of dehydration from years of drinking and drugs but I used to think to add water to my whiskey was all the hydration I needed.
This might not be too surprising but water really is an essential life-source when going through detox. The years of toxins building up in your body from drugs and alcohol put a huge strain on your system and flushing them out is the first vital step you need to take. Alcohol dehydrates the body immensely and it will be hard when you stop drinking at first.
Staying hydrated with water is key. Most medical professionals will recommend drinking around 8-10 glasses of water a day anyway, but when you are going through detox you must be hydrating in small amounts throughout the day when you can.
You might be surprised to know however that not all water is the same, in fact, regular tap and bottled water might not be as pure an option as you might think for someone in detox.
There are alternative drinking water options you can look into to make sure you are drinking the best water that will support a cleaner detox such as special filters and purification systems that reduce the number of contaminants in water.
- Get Your Heart Pumping!
I am a firm believer in the power of exercise and staying active. During my own detox, I’d distract myself from thinking about drinking or using again by playing basketball and working out at the gym. Although I had my days where my energy was so shot I I couldn’t even pick a ball up, let alone play a game of basketball, I kept pushing myself to get into the habit and now I exercise every day and feel amazing.
It’s gotta be something that gets the heart going…bowling just isn’t going to cut it! I’m talking about aerobics, swimming, running and cycling, and any other exercises that raise your heartbeat. Your vital organs are probably suffering from all the poisonous substances in your system so cardiovascular exercise can help rid your body of the remaining toxins through sweating.
This kind of high adrenaline exercise also kicks in your endorphins that can reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression which are triggers for substance abusers to relapse and turn back to binge drinking alcohol or drugs.
- Eat Well, Feel Well!
Hands up if you have said this more than once…”I’ll just skip the food and have a liquid lunch!” That always used to get a chuckle out of my friends when we’d go out to eat. I hardly ever sat down for a proper meal and if I did it came wrapped in paper with a giant golden M on it from the local drive-thru at 3am.
I’d always use the excuse that I never had time for a decent meal.
Truth was, having an alcohol and drug addiction meant eating right was just not important to me. My hunger was for something other than a fresh salad and nice piece of lean grass fed beef. When I went to detox the docs told me I was severely malnourished. I lacked all the essential vitamins and minerals needed to be considered healthy.
They put me on a healthy eating plan with zero processed foods, large amounts of fresh organic vegetables and lean meats that were high in protein. You need your strength if you are going to have the energy to successfully detox.
I’m not going to lie, I hated it at first but then as I began to feel healthier, stronger and more energetic, I got why it was so important I ate correctly. During detox, you could follow the example of the wise Greeks who really know how to eat healthily.
The Mediterranean diet is a wonderful healthy option for people going through detox. Enjoy protein-rich foods that are low in saturated fats, increase your intake of Omega 3 rich foods like avocados and salmon as well as all the vegetables and whole grains you can manage.
I guarantee your detox will feel 10x better and easier to handle if you eat clean as well.
- Have Someone On Your Side
As I mentioned earlier I was super lucky because my family stood by me through thick and thin, even in my darkest hours. Without them by my side during detox, I might not have made it. You can’t go at this alone and havesomeone rooting for you is a huge factor in your successful recovery.
Tell someone who you trust what you are going through and let them in on what is going on in your life. If you don’t have someone like that find a therapist, counselor or sponsor who has been where you are before or at least knows the pain you are going through.
If you are reading this and are the person who is close to an addict facing detox, then my advice is to be there for the 100% and give unconditional positive support. If you are unsure of how to handle the situation, understanding addiction and the drug detox process is important.
Each recovery journey is different and very personal. Facing detox is a big challenge for both the addict and those walking beside them during this difficult time. I wrote this article to share my experiences in the hope that those of you going through detox won’t feel alone. Remember, there are people out there who are willing to help.
You don’t have to be a slave to addiction, you can successfully complete the detox process with a little help. I hope that you can find these ways useful and I wish you the best of luck on your journey to recovery.
Do you have some extra tips to share with our readers about ways to successfully detox from alcohol and drugs? We would love to hear from you so please leave us a message in the comments below.