Long-term, habitual drug or alcohol abuse can have severe effects on brain chemistry and bodily functions. These substances are called “mind-altering” for a reason — when you drink or take drugs, they interfere with neurological pathways, resulting in the feeling of being high or drunk but also leaving your brain depleted of natural chemicals that control everything from mood to heart rate. Over time, your brain will become accustomed to functioning with the help of drugs or alcohol, and you’ll experience increasingly severe withdrawal symptoms if you don’t have constant access to the abused substance. Withdrawal symptoms are among the top reasons that many people become trapped by addiction; they begin to feel seriously ill if they aren’t using drugs or alcohol, and so they continue to use them even if they understand the consequences.
Overcoming withdrawal symptoms — a process known as detoxification — is the first step in healing from substance abuse. Getting past this obstacle allows people to finally free themselves from the cycle of addiction, moving beyond physical dependence and learning to readjust to sobriety. But withdrawal is not something that should be faced on one’s own — symptoms can be dangerous and even life-threatening, and attempting to quit cold turkey without help can easily become overwhelming and lead to relapse. The best way to ensure that your detoxification process is successful is through a professional, medically monitored detoxification program.