Dextoxing and Lack of Sleep

One of the biggest worries that many clients have about coming to Alcohol Rehab (and within that statement is stopping using) is how they will cope with the detox. What drugs we will give them. Whether we will give out sleeping pills because they cannot sleep without alcohol in their system.

The fear of not sleeping is real and can be the one thing that holds a person back from stopping. There are a few people whose alcohol or drug intake is so high that they will need an in-patient detox but those people are in the minority. Others will need a reduction regime under the supervision of a medical team (We have a doctor, psychiatrist and nurse to oversee this, at our local partner hospital). However more than 80% of clients coming to Alcohol Rehab need none of this. They need just to get through the uncomfortable first few days.

So if you are one of the many who do not need a pharmaceutical detox let us clear this up once and for all.

A detox is not a pleasant experience!!! It will be, for many, uncomfortable. It will mean 2-3 days of little or no sleep. It will mean feeling sick, aching and restless. But:

IT WILL NOT KILL YOU!!

So how do we manage this type of detox? You could be loaded you up with anti depressants and sleeping tablets for a week. You would cruise through until the time came to stop the anti depressants and sleeping tablets, then you would be missing those drugs and have an uncomfortable few days getting over it. So whatever happens you are going to have to go through a little unpleasantness.

Think also about the message you are sending yourself. You are coming to Alcohol Rehab because you have used a drug to deal with the emotional pain of life. Now you are using a drug to deal with the physical and psychological pain of life. So, in essence, you are reinforcing the message that, when the going gets tough you reach for the bottle. How is that going to help you on the road to recovery?

Make no mistake the road to recovery is long and hard. There are no short cuts and no time off for good behaviour. If you want to be clean for a year it will take 365 days. You cannot get a discount and you cannot buy this. But, like any journey, if you are prepared and have planned then the road will be easier. The Army have a saying known as the “6 P’s”: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.

What better way to get ready for recovery than knowing that you dealt with your detox without the need for drugs. That you were powerful not powerless. That you were able to get through the thing that probably kept you using when you really wanted to stop. This is the sort of message that the brain stores and likes. When you take responsibility for your actions you take control of your life. And when you take control of your life you can then decide what you want. And if it is recovery that you want then nothing can stop you but you.

So how do you cope with the uncomfortable feelings and lack of sleep??

First of all accept that there will be uncomfortable feelings and you will not sleep well. It should not come as a surprise. Knowledge is power. Remind yourself that it is temporary and will not lead to any lasting damage. IT WON’T KILL YOU.

Do not lie around in bed trying to sleep. You will focus on the pain and you will, therefore, feel it more. So keep busy. Get up and do something. At Alcohol Rehab you get no concessions. Your programme starts on the morning after you arrive. You only have 28 days and you cannot afford to mope around feeling sorry for yourself. The work starts and so do you. So get over it and get on with it!

You will be supported by an excellent multi disciplinary team and your peers. Some of your peers will have already been through what you are going through and will support you. Listen to them. There is nothing better than learning from those who have just travelled the same road you are going down. We also have some tried and tested methods to help you regain your sleep patterns. Don’t worry you will get back to sleeping well.

You may have no appetite. Don’t worry it will return. And in the meantime our catering team will make sure you have a plentiful supply of fresh juices and smoothies until your appetite returns.

During the day you will be kept very busy with groups, one to ones, exercise and activities like meditation, canoeing etc. Your mind will get tired and so will your body. Add to this fresh clean air and good food (if you have an appetite) and you will find that this is the best form of natural sleeping tablet.

Because your mind is focussed on the programme it will not be so focussed on the uncomfortable feelings and much of the unpleasant side of detoxing will pass without you knowing it.

After 3 days you will start feeling better, stronger and healthier. Your mind will be sharper than it has been for some time. This is the beginning of your recovery and it just keeps getting better. I have never, in 18 years working in this field, met a former drug addict or alcoholic who regrets the decision to stop using.

When you get your life back it is an amazing feeling and that will never change. Each day becomes something to cherish not fear.

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