Let me show you how I overcame drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms
After growing up in a family where drug and alcohol misuse and abuse have been prevalent for over 3 generations, I finally broke free. For 13 long years (from 1995 – 2009) I was heavily addicted to pills, drugs, and alcohol. When the abuse was at its peak, I took daily doses of a toxic mixture of 40-60 pills, alcohol, amphetamines and cocaine. It is a miracle that I am alive and well.
The worst thing I experienced was:
- Lack of sleep
- All the thoughts
- Difficulty to find out what is reality and what is imagination-and inner anxiety.
- Feeling cold and sweating on and off,
- Diarrhea and migraine is normal.
- The body can feel lethargic.
- It hurt in all the muscles, joints and others places.
- There was a constant pain, discomfort and headache.
It is important to saint during the withdrawal process many have relapses, because they experience the treatment program to demanding and challenging. It’s therefore good to be well prepared, and plan well in advance. One should plan not to be alone, and not to have access to pills and medicine.
I sub-divide (and fight) withdrawal symptoms into four categories:
- The physical
- The emotional
- The social
- The mental
Is the journey the body has to endure, from being sick and dependent, further through the withdrawal symptoms period(2-5weeks), to becoming healthy, strong and free from addiction and disease.
Fundamentally it’s about using the body as much as possible. It gives many advantages such as: natural tiredness, production of dopamine, adrenaline, serotonin and other good neurotransmitters, which enhances all four categories.
Physical training, which brings perspiration on ones forehead, and with greatest intensity. Remember stamina and weight training. Both stimulate neurotransmitters, and the endurance training increases the cleansing process. Move every day-as much as possible. The alternative could be to run-preferably outside, swimming, sauna, massage, cycling, sex etc. As the surplus is reduced during this phase, it can be an advantage to do activities, which are not acted out in traffic.
The intensity is essential, a high pulse and sweat. Sex and/or masturbation-as one from every orgasm stimulates the production of neurotransmitters, even though it can be experienced as an empty feeling afterwards. The boost is important to get re-started. Possibly one could do it in the bath, in order to keep the heat.
Good food is also a help in order to strengthen your physical state. Even though the energy levels are not high in this period, healthy food is good for the healing process. process. Tomatoes, cabbage, quark, fish, yoghurt, green tea, soya seeds and chamomile tea before bed time-are some of the ingredients, that will strengthen your physical condition during the withdrawal process.
You’ll possibly feel cold during this experience, so a good sign is not to stop training, before you are completely wet of sweat. Then take a long hot bath and get warmed up. Possibly take a warm bath in the swimming pool.
Physical restlessness and discomfort are part of the rehabilitation process in the initial stages of the clean-time. This phenomenon can express itself in numerous ways. Shaking, can’t sit still, your legs can’t keep still, your legs can’t be kept still, stomach disturbance and unease; it feels like ants under the skin. Further…you might find it difficult falling asleep, and you wake early and feeling “fresh”-find it difficult concentrating-or maybe you feel something of that order, or other experiences might come upon you.
Most addicts experience disturbance and restlessness-and it’s about being aware of living without your drug-and the “lack of habit”-and then it’s about the body stabilizing itself again, and trying to re-establish the bodies serotonin production. As written before, Serotonin reduces the feeling of unease and fear, and strengthens us in our social behavior. Serotonin creates the feeling of well being and inner peace, and enhances the concentration levels, and leads to better sleeping experiences. When we have eaten we feel greater satisfaction, this is related to a heightened Serotonin level in our body system. That is why it’s important to undertake some of the previously mentioned activities during the day, in order to create the best opportunities and the sense of well being and peace.
A little note:
If I was sitting in the evening and I was in inner turmoil, it helped me to drink warm milk and eat chocolate. A small piece of Marabou every 15min would keep my body relaxed. It’s though clear that one shouldn’t sit there and munch chocolate every 15 min for four months going. I especially used this feature the first five days of my clean days. 1.priority IS becoming drug free. Weight, health etc., will emerge when the first 2-3 weeks are overcome.
Sleep, rest and relaxation are important factors to strengthen all four areas, and at the same time very difficult to achieve as the body is shaking and uneasy. One can combine the elements in such a way i.e., like getting up every morning at a fixed time-flex. 6.30am. One doesn’t get to sleep very much, but to sleep too long can disturb ones rhythm, in relationship to meal times and fatigue in the evening.
Get up and go to bed at the same time, and avoid resting in the middle of the day. Keep yourself occupied until 10.30pm,where you can finish the day with a meditation and head to bed in a relaxed fashion, this should create the best sleep. Don’t consider using sleeping pills, it has no benefit. Highly likely there will be 2-5 weeks of irregular sleeping patterns, but ordinary people also experience this at times. The body and brain will sleep, when tired enough.
Make sure that you exercise, eat well, get involved sex in some fashion, engage in activities that stimulate your brain; I’ll then promise you that the process will run as smoothly as possible. Flex….you can read something interesting, examine something on the internet, go to a museum, have some interesting discussions with other people, get a new hobby-something that activates the brain-every day.
Concerning night sleep; there will be nights where you only sleep 1-3 hours. Maximum. That’s ok. To rest between 10.30pm and 6.30am, with a couple of hours sleep is ok over a period of two weeks. Suddenly it turns, and you’ll be sleeping 4-7 hours a night, which is sufficient for an adult person.
The emotional is mixed together with the other three points of reflection. Still I feel it deserves its own heading. The reason being that one is attracted to drugs because of emotional issues: Either one wants to subdue anxiety or anger, or one wants to exchange feelings of sadness with feelings of elation and happiness, or at times maybe one just wants to be indifferent.
The drugs are closely linked to our emotions and feelings, like rehabilitation and “clean time”. When we undergo the rehabilitation process and start to get clean, then feelings like anger, anxiety, jealousy, insecurity etc. starts to emerge, and we are left without drugs to control or subdue them. Good feelings also emerge, instigating a more clean and true feeling of happiness, love and elation. When the drugs start to leave the body, then the filters that have been veiling the emotions for long periods of time, can instigate slight fear in the process, when experiencing a more wholesome feeling of joy or anger. This could at times lead to stupid choices and actions.
All emotions can seem overwhelming; therefore the emotional aspect is important to me. I have created an opportunity to speak to my rehabilitation counselor; a psychologist and a nurse, about different issues, but to be honest, also about my feelings and emotions. My objective is to be able to feel anger, anxiety and joy-be in the centre of it, and react naturally to the emotions without being overwhelmed. I feel it’s difficult to vent my anger or happiness in a good and constructive manner.
To be in the emotion and feeling, and to sense it as it is just now-without dilution or any filtering-is what I aim for: therefore I use the previously mentioned characters to learn that. I seek these helpers myself and ask for help. Nothing in my life is more important than, to stay clean and drug free. I undertake all necessary actions to achieve this. I know that it’s not given to all people, that they can work in this fashion with their emotions and feelings.
I connection with rehabilitation and clean time, I think it’s important to understand that emotions and feelings which previously have been difficult to contain, pop up again. So do good feelings, therefore one should not despair. To confide in others about ones emotions can fill much. I experienced that as soon as I placed focus on a feeling, the easier it was to deal with.
My mother was beaten quite a lot when I was young. This has left deep scars in my psyche, initiating when experiencing boisterous, loud, drunk, aggressive or authoritarian men, that I became afraid and would disappear. Even at the age of 30, I would take a detour route, if I saw a group of boisterous men on a Friday night, standing on the street on my path. Previously I’ve walked for 3-5km detours, in order to make me feel safe. It’s not beneficiary for an adult to be so scared, when in reality there needn’t be fear. The group of men on the street were maybe just out for a happy stag party, and not even notice merman years passed with me having fear of that kind of scenario, which first changed when I started to reflect and talk about tithe other initiatives mentioned, boosted my self-esteem and self-confidence, and my outlook on life. Today I walk past the same group of men, and I don’t shed it any thought, at most only minutely, that is also ok.
This situation was dangerous for me, as my fear was only sedated by pills, and my happiness made greater in conjunction with the pills. My disenchantment could only be reduced by the pills. Important on my path, was for me to endeavor on all the above activities, in order to restore balance in body, brain and life force. The emotional realms are important dimensions, during the rehabilitation and clean-time process. I handle my emotions, by speaking (Ongoing) about them to i.e. Friends, family, therapists, counselors, the nurse, the priest, the psychologist, and also to write them down.
As soon as I describe a feeling, it is reduced in size, and easier to deal with. It’s important, as drug addiction is interconnected with emotions and feelings; an important issue to focus on. Specifically I arranged to have weekly conversations with friends, counselors, the nurse, the doctor and a priest; this enabled me to describe my feelings. This narrative was the path during my rehabilitation and the first clean-time.
The social aspect in my rehabilitation and first clean-time, became more important as the process moved forward. As a person I like to be alone in relationship to my misdeeds-but as I progressed into my rehabilitation process, I awoke to a greater wish to be together with other people.
I had this opportunity through my day treatment regime, and also intricately through my interests which I created. Some use NA and AA, I don’t, but for some maybe it’s great, and of course they should pursue tithe whole process brought me closer to my siblings, family, parents and old friends, whom have always been close to me. All these people could alleviate my social needs, which I needed to be fulfilled.
Previously I have written that one should surround oneself with ex drug users in the first phase of rehabilitation, as I think that they share the same inner fire and power, that is necessary in the transition period, from addiction to clean. The event of being with other people, laughing together, being consoled, receive or give love, experience togetherness, unity, reach out and receive in a natural fashion, is archaic in human beings. It’s something that lies buried in us.
When I was an addict, my social abilities were extremely reduced. It doesn’t translate to being “organic social” with the folks sitting on the bench drinking. Or sitting in a room doing “lines” and having a party with four others. Yes it creates bonding and company, but it also creates an equally large empty inner hole. And when one wakes up at the railway station in Berlin, often the communal feeling has disappeared, and left is only the black hole and the withdrawal symptoms. Surely also awaiting in the near future, is debt and a beating.
If one on the contrary has a food evening at home, with three good friends, communally helping to make food, share funny stories, with great conversations at the table-overall have a fun evening-then one wakes up in one’s bed, with a broad smile across ones face, in appreciation of the lovely evening enjoyed. I interpret it as not just being in the company of others, but rather sensing the essence which is what one is doing in the company of others, and what investment one gives and receives.
In the beginning of the rehabilitation process, and the first clean-time period, I remember that I was enriched by just sitting at the library, and “feeling” being together with other people, without me having to do anything. To go to church, or to the swimming pool, or to watch live sports at a stadium or something else, where I didn’t need to be directly involved in a conversation or social interaction, was enriching.
During my rehabilitation process and my first clean-time, I have been frequenting the centre 3-4 times a week-which of course has also helped meet my social needs. There is no doubt as far as I’m concerned, that being together with other people, as described above, benefits ones rehabilitation efforts in the first clean-time period. It also benefits many other aspects of life.
To round off the discussion about social interactions, I feel one can solve many issues, by planning a good rehabilitation process. Also to locate some good, positive, and resource enabled people, within the early phases of the treatment process. All this is necessary before it becomes difficult and challenging. To be aware that you need these people, and that you need company.
It was a new experience for me at the time, involving me having to call somebody, and ask whether I could pass by for coffee. It helped me enormously when I was entering the sphere, where things were a little painful, and I knew that he/she would be there for me, if I needed it. It’s difficult to solve, when one sits there in the middle of the night with withdrawal symptoms, vomiting and alone. A telephone number or two, would be beneficiary in this scenario, if a call is immediately needed.
I have written about being in the company of others, and give and receive love in a natural and unselfish fashion. This activates some of our neurotransmitters in the brain as described in the paragraph “The Physical”. At the same time, it can boost ones self-confidence and self-worth, pride, happiness, and lots more in the relationship of being together with other people. One thing is that we should learn to ask for help and be in the company of others, but it also benefits them mentally and physically to have healthy social relationships. It’s all connected like that. I’m aware that there are very big differences in rehabilitation processes, methods, results etc. Some have no people in their lives, whereas others don’t trust people. And others have social fears or other conditions.
What I write has worked for me.
To start a rehabilitation process is possible to achieve for most addicts. One is in “secure environments”, where one can also stay on dose level as long as one feels afraid to reduce dosages further.
To go from a “secure dosage” to becoming clean, demands more than just a “wish” to become clean. It needs conviction concerning, the wish to be clean and drug free. It’s the most important for me in my life. Irrespective of what I meet, becoming clean is the most important factor for me and follows a plan to become clean, and the motivation and sense of focus in order to follow the plan. It’s also important to focus on the joy associated with the rewards during the process, also when one has become clean.
Much of the plan can be solved in conjunction with doctors, nurses or a drug addiction consultants; but the inner will-or the fire, which needs to be there to persevere, must originate from the person themselves. One should be able to find it, in order to complete and reach the goal of becoming clean. I believe myself that I had that conviction and willpower, but I was also helped to keep on the right track, and supplied energy from my addiction counselor and social environment.
One can’t turn up, be indifferent and believe, that one can achieve becoming clean, by just following some rigid schematic treatment structure. It demands great personal will and investment to pursue and complete, and I am of the opinion that with the right conditions, all people contain this inner fire and energy, needed to complete the treatment process. Initially in the rehabilitation process one is confronted by the fear of living without ones drugs-ones loved one-ones best friend; and also of great concern, is maybe the fear of feeling “naked” and alone, without ones friend. This can overshadow much in the process.
It’s therefore important already from the beginning of the rehabilitation process to have described the answers: why I want to be clean? What does it give me? What do I achieve when being clean, which I don’t when intoxicated? Which changes do I wish to make in my life? Which fun/good/lovely things happen, when I become clean? Which realistic dream do I have when I become clean? Is it an education, job, study course, house, family, lover, looks, travel. physical etc.?
If one doesn’t know the answers of these questions, then I’m of the opinion, that one will not complete or stay clean for more than eight days. In collaboration with a rehabilitation counselor, you can have access to help in writing down realistic, positive and good things, which you wish to achieve and experience, when you become clean. To spend time with people who are committed, have will power, initiative, energy, life spirit, goals, and an interest in you-that is a contributing factor in lifting you even higher in your rehabilitation process and initial clean-time.It’s without comparison worth gold.
Further, it’s also an exercise in learning to ask for help. It’s was important for me to learn, that I was not able to manage it all on my own. I can’t solve my challenges as I’m used to, as I’ll just end up with the same result-a place I don’t want to end up in again.
Interests/hobbies were a part of the healing process for main my opinion it’s a very essential thing in the path to becoming clean. If one can find an interest/hobby, which one is passionate about, then many things evolve, which previously the drugs were proponents for. One’s brain gets distracted and occupied with thinking about other things than drugs. Thereby we pacify the addict in us. We suddenly “eco-fix”, experience excitement, desire, endorphins, satisfaction, joy, happiness, being in love, ignition, introspection, relaxation, self-confidence, self-esteem, peace, pride – all the things that we feel life as an addict is missing, suddenly come to us naturally. That’s where we would like to go.
Personally I went to the library the first days of my clean period. To be in the space of other people, without directly being with them, made me feel secure. To feel that the external world was alive, and that I was part of it; was how I felt when I went to the library. Apart from that I could delve into a subject that I was interested in. That’s my interest for the Maya Indians, food-making, internet, comic books; crime fiction novels are important. It’s important to spend time engaging in something which creates happiness and engagement internally.
It’s completely irrelevant if it’s football, computer games, fishing, teaching, photography, storytelling, child minding, food-making, garden work, sport etc.; the subject is irrelevant. When we are occupied by something that interests us, or gives us happiness, it all becomes more fun, and we are much stronger in dealing with the challenges that come our way in life. Really simple stuff.
My suggestion is to acquire a hobby or something of one’s interest, preferably before the last phase of the rehabilitation. When feeling bad or in discomfort, and one forces oneself to read a book or go to the library, an interest can emerge that we hadn’t planned for. To be clean without having a positive interest or hobby, I think is unrealistic. Work and family are not sufficient. It should be something that enhances ones happiness personally, and which brings a heightened state of pride.
One of my biggest challenges is to be honest. Every time I took a pill, I was lying to myself. A lie saying that this action was good for me. If you think that your hash, pill, “line”, is good for you, you should either say: “I’m an addict, and that’s ok”, and just live with it, or you can call the rehabilitation centre and say: ”I think that the drugs are good for me, but I know that this isn’t true. Please help me?”
Honesty is important to me. Irrespective of whether I’m clean or not clean, then my lies hit the same consciousness centre, and exactly that opens the door slightly to old habitual behavior addiction patterns. It’s therefore of most importance to me to keep my head and heart clean. Free from medicine and drugs-but also to be able to speak honestly about my thoughts, attitudes and feelings.
As soon as I reject anything, belittle a challenge, tell a direct lie or manipulate a story, then my guilt which has been active in the last years emerges. I can thereby quickly get a negative feeling about myself, and from there on the road to bad decisions is short. I know by experience that many addicts feel like that. I remember my alcoholic mother saying: “Oh, it’s summer now, and I would like a glass of white wine”, initiating her on a five month drink binge.
Try to be as honest as possible, in relationship to other people and oneself. Ask for help, if you need it, and when you lie and manipulate, admit it on the spot. If not directly to the person, then at least to yourself in the mirror in the evening. Just say: ”yes, what I said wasn’t completely correct, but I’m trying to improve, and next time I’ll do better”. Then the air has been let out of that lie, and one’s conscience is given peace.
It’s important that you surround yourself with people who want to live life positively, and who are honest and not addicts or criminals. I.e., family, grandparents etc….,who can give compassionate understanding, insight and love in the situation that you are in. I also used ex addicts who were clean, to receive support. They knew what I was going through, and about the lies and unnecessary elements. I used and am still using my family and girlfriend. It’s important to speak with somebody, that knows about the situation, where one can be deadly honest, because they have experienced the same and also experienced the low points.
If one should be honest towards other people, in relationship to ones addictions and abuse, it must be viewed according to which situation one finds oneself Inuit’s about the context of the situation and being able to read the situation. I need to know people well, before I initiate them to know who I am-just as I don’t feel that I need to tell anything, about my sexuality and religious beliefs the first 15 lines of a conversation. I’m honest in self-reflection, and when I feel the situation is right, I’ll be open and honest towards others about my abuse and addictions.
It has benefited me much to be open about my addictions, in connection with rehabilitation and towards my girlfriend, friends and family. In that fashion, I have received support and encouragement from the same people, instead of sitting at home and being afraid of what they might be saying, if I say xxxx…… Once again, the situations can be different, so there is no unified solution for all.
I’m not mentally ill. I have not been diagnosed as having ADHD, psychosis or other. It’s clear, that If one has been diagnosed with a mental health issue, or suffering from something else, then medication and another treatment path should be undertaken. Many of things I deliberately have done, could have a positive effect on other people. I will emphasize, that I recommend that a doctor, nurse, or drug counselor, always should interact with the rehabilitation process.
Does religious belief belong under the category mental? Maybe not, but in my opinion they belong under that heading, as my mental faculties are positively influenced by my beliefs, and vice versa, my beliefs are enhanced by my mental states. Not to make it too cryptic; I believe that we humans on a subconscious level are interconnected in non-verified ways. That’s why it’s called belief, and not to know!
I believe in a common connection. A spirituality-a separation of our physical and spiritual entities, and at the same time, a merging into each-other takes place. And when it’s called belief instead of just social interaction, then It’s because I believe that I have a guardian angel. I know, that it helps me to ask her for help, when I’m in difficulty, and thank her, when I’m fine.
Whether she exists or not, isn’t relevant, but it’s important for me to use her. I know, that It helps me, and that it reduces my challenges, strengthens my victories, dampens my falls, and enhances my risings. To pray(her for help or thank her) is an enhancer, to boost whatever the mission is.
I believe that we people need it-to send our worries and joys further, in order for us to get them out of the system, and release space inside, and eventually receive others peoples point of view on the case. I think that the important aspect of this chapter is to KNOW, that I as an addict and misuser, cannot manage rehabilitation alone; therefore my belief is important to me.
Loneliness as an aspect, could more or less be placed under the social chapter, hats where it belongs. To sit alone in ones room on a rainy night, with withdrawal symptoms, shaking and feeling cold, that’s when loneliness becomes part of the psyche. That is when there is a high risk of taking bad decisions. That is why loneliness can be so overwhelming.
Loneliness is something all people can encounter in their lives. It’s not the actual loneliness that is dangerous, but more the yearning of human contact, which can necessitate a clear plan to deal with the loneliness. 99 out of 100 don’t have such visions of a plan. These factors activated my mind into action, guiding me to make an arrangement with a friend, which meant that I could call him 24-7,during rehabilitation, and the first time period of clean time. He really meant it, when he said that I could call him at all times.
Many say it, and when one then sits in the actual situation, one doesn’t actually dare call, as they probably don’t want to speak to me at 03.30am-they are going to work, and what I have to say is not important; I’m also feeble…etc….But, what I encountered was that my fear of the effects of my call, were put to shame. When I was opened minded and said: ”Bloody hell, man, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, are going to be difficult to get through alone”, then there were lots of offers from people, who wanted to help and declare their love. I was invited to visit or call them at any time. Or arrange that they would send a mail or text-just a small signal from other people, can be enough to remove loneliness, even though it’s arranged in advance.
If you don’t have any family or friends, who are clean, then be smart: you can go to the library and ask for help to find local churches. Remember to remain clean, this is the most important aspect of your life; nothing is more important. In church you can speak with a priest, and in some towns the church has visiting arrangements in place. Your council drug rehabilitation counselor can also help you to acquire a new social network, or places where people are up against the same challenges.
My loneliness was alleviated by being open and curious in relationship to other people. I would place myself into situations where I felt secure with other people.
An example was when I visited a library, in order to indirectly be together with other people. If loneliness emerges in the middle of the night, or fear shows itself, then make sure that you have a “lifeline” that you can call. This can be arranged through the local priest or AA-or NA-environment. I have consciously not mentioned AA or Naas they are not of interest to me.
I need to be together with people, who share my healthy interests, and who can be invigorated by engaging in such healthy activities. I have a totally clear awareness, concerning where I should call or go, if I one day would be in such a situation, where I was on the verge of making a bad decision. I need to say that I have the greatest respect for everyone benefiting from NA and AA, it just wasn’t for me.
Ideas to alleviate loneliness:
- Borrow interesting sound books at the library, which you can have running in the background.
- Find pictures of people, who mean something to you,and who radiate positive associations for you.
- Make arrangements with other people, so that they send you texts during the day, or call you on Sundays. Clarify the importance of these arrangements, in order that they are upheld.
- Mingle among people, without necessarily having to integrate with them. Try a park in the city centre, libraries, pedestrian walkways etc. Only to the degree that you want, and can manage.
- Too many people have the tendency to be stressed in rehabilitation and the first clean-time. Less is more, as it fills your “social tank”.
- Eat some food, and try to find interests and hobbies, and take personal responsibility for your loneliness.
Summing-up concerning mental faculties:
Initially I feel I have included most factors which I have experienced, and the solutions which have worked for me. Fundamentally I think the whole mental aspect is about moving the focus: “I’m afraid to live without my drug”- to “I look forward to feeling true happiness, and enjoy a walk in the forest when I get clean. It gives me inner peace and satisfaction. A real “eco fix”, or whatever ones motivation is.
If one manages to change the focus, then good progress has been made. Remove all “buts”, and steer towards a clear goal. Be focused and excited about all the new things to happen, and be aware that other people are an integral part of the journey to self-help. If we/you can help others, then that is of benefit. Having fun with other people is also an element in the mental healing. To a large extent the physical aspect influences the mental states. In conjunction with the social conditioning, the mental and physical all have interwoven influences.
All factors are interconnected, and the more positive things we can include, the better prepared and easier the process will progress.
Please note, that I am aware that my experiences and my knowledge does not work for everyone. A lot of lectures, e-mails and phone calls since 2010 from other addicts and relatives tells me that some of the stuff I am sharing, actually helps other people. My words and details enable humans to identify themselves with their own life and their own issues, and make it possible for them to change their life
Thank you for your attention and your time.
Martin Bodker Fritzen