Happens.. at some point, most of us realize that we have to STOP the insanity! My drinking was COMPLETELY out of control.. Day and night, always making sure I had booze in stock.. Bottles hidden everywhere, hitting up different liquor stores, mountains of dead bottles.
BUT HOW? Cold turkey? Detox? Intervention? IOP? The tale that follows is my WORST experience with detox. I have lapsed and relapsed a few times, some were no where near as horrific. In order to take a healthy and realistic path, you HAVE to be Really honest with your self.
Word of caution: any time you make a major life change like stopping alcohol, dieting etc best to consult a doctor. There are a lot of things to consider when you decide to stop drinking.
I painfully remember the first 10 days of my medically assisted detox. I had discussed quitting with my doctor and was nervous telling her the ugly truths. Duh. she knew! I had blood work done on several occasions, and the results told her more than I did. I was in complete denial to myself and everyone around me.
My doctor prescribed some medications and made sure I knew how to take my blood pressure. I had refused to go to a formal detox program and basically knew I would be under voluntary house arrest. Factors I considered were cost, shame, time, location, etc.
I also talked with a nutritionist and made sure I had plenty of fluids, bland foods, and some vitamin supplements.
Search and remove exercise was next. I removed ALL alcohol and related substances from my house. Fearless, like kicking out a scorned lover. The drama king in me made a show of giving away my booze to needy buddies.
Now, here are some things I wish I knew first…. the first few days I went through all of these, some at the same time:
- I smelled really bad! The stench coming off of my body was awful.
- My hands shook uncontrollably
- I was throwing up really nasty stuff.. I had zero appetite and nothing stayed down
- Crazy gas and diarrhea.. where was all this crap coming from!!!!
- Hot and cold sweats.. so nasty
- I was a train wreck of emotions.. like ready to destroy anyone for anything type anger
- The cravings were insanely painful both physically and mentally
- Sleep was erratic and dreams/nightmares
- My skin crawled and itched like crazy
- I had the most intense head and body aches.. like the flu bad
- Zero patience for anything.. couldn’t read, play games,talk to anyone.. thankfully surfing tv and videos was bearable
I had friends in AA who tried to get me to go to meetings but that wasn’t going to happen. Last thing I wanted was to be lectured or told to read the Big Book, get a sponsor, etc.. I had some real world biological issues to deal with.
Three days in I finally felt like eating, so managed some oatmeal and bananas and ginger ale.. crackers helped.
Slept really hard.. sleep of the dead finally. Next?
Doctor visit: blood pressure was erratic and I knew it. I had a few panic attacks so had taken the prescribed medications. Went through everything that was going on, blood and urine samples. Doctor prescribed couple more things, including sleeping pills.
Started reading some of the materials I had stockpiled for this ordeal – AA, Rational Recovery, Sober Recovery, and SMART. AA and I were old buddies, as I had done this rodeo several times before.
5 Days in and things were changing! Body was behaving, mind was calmer, and suddendly my appetite was back. started feeling
10 Days and I was a new man! Real emotions, sleeping, and the urges and cravings were not so demanding.
30 days – Pink Cloud? Sobriety is awesome! Who needs stuff? I am high on LIFE. Anyone can do this, and I am living proof.. Time to share this with the world. Personal crusade to tell everyone I DON’T DRINK. No mas… DONE! (and so should YOU) acck! Evil booze begone…
60 days – Emotional Roller coaster in full effect. Saying it takes 30 days to break a habit? I also think at 60 days I was dealing with new habits. Maybe I CAN start dating again. Biology kicking in (yes folks do get feisty in recovery!)
90 days – hey sobriety, where are the puppies and unicorns everyone talked about! Natural consequences of my actions appearing in real life. OUCH. Adulting sucks!
6 months – self doubt, self sabotage, LIFE was boring! Hey SMART recovery has a stage called “Maintenance”. I really think I am here… no real urges any more, I know lots of tools and resources for life events, I have sober friends that I call for support!
9 months – ummm… when did I yes ME become the sane and sober one? Folks asking ME how I did it, even for advice! The idea of helping others and giving back is a real thing! It feels great and gets me out of myself.
1 YEAR – Looking back at my past periods of extended sobriety, this IS the new me. Sense of wonder and looking at things as if through a child’s eyes. NO guarantee that life would be a miracle, no promises of fairy tale happiness, nor even health and wealth. At least I wouldn’t be screwing up my odds and making things worse.
PAWS: Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or Protracted Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome: as a “syndrome” this describes several different effects that one can deal with AFTER initial detox, usually within first few weeks of sobriety. I personally had major sleep issues, mood swings, difficulty thinking clearly, irritable (ie FURIEous) over minor things, and panic attacks out of nowhere. As I read more on PAWS, I do believe many people suffer from this, and also adds to risk of relapse.
I learned it is ok to be sad, emotional, bored and vulnerable. Real life had its share of highs and lows. I need to value my self worth and respect others. I came across an amazing poem: All I needed in Life I learned in Kindergarten: …http://www.peace.ca/kindergarten.htm
There are an estimated 12 million alcoholics in the United States, many of whom need help quitting. An important step in getting sober is detoxification, or detox, a period of about a week when your body rids itself of all the alcohol in your system. This difficult process sometimes requires a medical facility, but as long as a doctor deems it safe, you can try to detox at home using these steps.
Alcohol affects numerous systems in your body. It’s important to understand the dangers of alcohol. Use this virtual guide to learn how your body is affected.
The First Year in Recovery: Stages and What to Expect