July 2022 - Hader Clinic Queensland

6 Stages of Ice Addiction Recovery

Ice addiction recovery is not a straight line. For most people, there will be different issues that arise in each stage of their recovery journey. For many, their recovery journey starts long before the decision is made to seek help.

The 6 stages of ice addiction recovery are:

  • Powerlessness
  • Accepting the problem
  • Detoxing from ice
  • Early recovery
  • A new way of life
  • Daily maintenance

Stage 1. Powerlessness­­

When someone starts to use ice, they believe that they are in control of choosing when and how often to use ice and are enjoying the effects of the drug.

However, after longer, more frequent use, the sufferer may recognise signs of ice addiction and acknowledge they might have a problem, start trying to limit their use of ice, or stop altogether.

It is now the person realises they can’t stop and that they are suffering from an ice addiction.

They will make countless vain attempts to stop until they realise they can’t and they are powerless over their addiction.

Some of the attempts to stop may include:

  • Staying away from people who use drugs
  • Moving away or in with family
  • Limiting the times and the amount of ice they use
  • Substituting one drug for another
  • Going cold turkey without any support

Most sufferers need to go through this stage of their ice addiction recovery before they acknowledge the problem and become motivated to get professional ice addiction treatment to change their life.

Stage 2. Accepting the Problem

After having tried so many ways to restrict or stop their drug use, they may now finally be at a stage where they can accept that their drug use is a concern.

This is a vital stage in the recovery process as, during it, there is a small window of opportunity before the addiction takes hold again where the sufferer shows a willingness to accept help and treatment.

In this period of the ice addiction recovery journey, there may be some serious consequences of the ice addiction and circumstances that can bring a sufferer to a point of surrender.

The sufferer may have:

It is important that the person suffering receives help from addiction professionals who understand addiction first-hand.

Stage 3. Detoxing from Ice

During this stage of ice addiction recovery, the individual needs to be in a safe place to detox from ice so they can safely navigate the withdrawal symptoms of ice and learn to manage stress without substances, and begin the journey towards an abstinence-based lifestyle.

During this stage, ice withdrawal symptoms, thoughts, and emotions can be intense.

Depending on their situation (including personal history and drug use) the ice detox process usually takes between one to two weeks.

Stage 4. Early Recovery

The early recovery stage is all about education about the disease of addiction. Most people in this stage find it easier to do this in a residential addiction treatment facility or through regular 12 step meeting attendance.

Part of the journey is to understand and accept that addiction is a disease and that the underlying reason they used drugs needs to be addressed.

Learning to live without the use of drugs can be difficult, but most addicts find hope when surrounded by the right support network.

Stage 5. A New Way of Life

During this stage, the recovering individual needs to create a new lifestyle.

Without a complete change of lifestyle, the work so far will have little long-term effect.

If the recovering addict has been in a rehab facility or away from their everyday life for a while, they may become overwhelmed and turn back to old coping mechanisms.

It is important that they analyse relationships, jobs, and other lifestyle elements.

Returning to daily life can be difficult to navigate.

There are typically job and relationship changes needed to create a balanced life free from the use of ice.

The recovering person can attend 12-step programs and become involved in the community in another way outside of their workplace and families.

It is important that they receive help to deal with the emotional issues and trauma underlying their drug use.

Stage 6. Daily Maintenance

The final phase of ice addiction recovery is maintenance. It is the stage most people think of when they think of recovery.

The new thoughts and patterns that have been created, along with the new lifestyle changes that are beginning to be made, must now be maintained on an ongoing basis.

Living in the moment and learning to use new tools and coping mechanism requires work.

During this stage the person in recovery will usually find new healthy ways to manage stress and maintain their new way of life, which may include:

  • Meditation
  • Physical exercise
  • Becoming useful to their community

The hallmarks of the daily maintenance stage are the ability to react to problems that come up without the use of ice, choosing to grow and develop as a person, and continuing to be part of a recovery program.

 

Andrew’s Story of Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery

Andrew is 49 years old and recently sought alcohol addiction treatment at Hader Clinic Queensland. After completing the 28-day program he has stayed sober for over 2 months. This is his story of recovery.

I grew up with my Mum and Sister. I was a very introverted child. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I was very quiet and found it difficult to socialise. At the age of 5, I suffered a trauma at the hands of a loved one. Drugs and alcohol were my only coping mechanism.

The first time I drank alcohol was when I was 12. I stole it from the cupboard at home.

I remember drinking and feeling instant relief, it felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. It took away the pain that I was dealing with on my own. I continued to steal alcohol from the cupboard at home regularly to self-medicate.

When I started high school, I made some older friends. They could get alcohol for me, I started going to parties every weekend and smoking pot most days. I wasn’t interested in school. I had no ambitions and no hobbies.

Everything centred around drinking and partying. Alcohol gave me the confidence I needed to make friends and feel a connection with other people.

I finished year 10 and started an apprenticeship. I would smoke pot every morning and drink every night. I didn’t see it as an issue, I believed that it helped me function. I completed my apprenticeship and started working. This cycle continued into my early 20’s.

My partying continued but progressed to much heavier drugs. I started to use amphetamines. I would drink myself unconscious every night and then use amphetamines to get through the day. Drugs and alcohol became the only way I could function.

When I was 27 I got married and started a family. We have a beautiful daughter together. I was able to stop the daily use of drugs but the alcohol addiction increased. My ex-wife was more accepting of the alcohol. I could not stop drinking, it didn’t even cross my mind to try. We were married for 16 years. In the last 5 years of our marriage, my drinking caused irreparable damage to our relationship.

As a result, my wife left me because she couldn’t live with me any longer, I was slowly killing myself and was horrible to be around. I was devastated and turned to drink even more alcohol to cope with the pain. I also started to smoke pot and use amphetamines daily again. I managed to maintain my work commitments, mostly because I needed the money to support my lifestyle.

Over the next 6 years after the break-up, I didn’t take a sober breath. My daughter stayed with me after the separation. She was basically my carer from the age of 14 to 20. She had to look after me every day. I would drink as soon as I got home from work until I passed out. She would cry and beg me to stop drinking.

Two years ago, my doctor told me I had to stop drinking or I would die. He told me my kidneys and liver were going to fail. My blood tests showed that if I didn’t stop drinking everything was going to shut down. I tried to stop but could only manage to reduce the amount I drank. I was drinking over a litre of scotch a night. I would reduce it down to a 6 pack.

This would last for a few weeks and then I would go back to drinking copious amounts of alcohol. If I didn’t drink, I would shake and dry reach. The alcohol withdrawal symptoms were unbearable and only drinking would make me feel ok again.

This went on for another 2 years. My doctor continued to tell me I was going to die. My daughter begged me to stop. One night I made a decision. I told my daughter I have got to stop or I will die. To my surprise, she had already been in contact with Hader Clinic Queensland. I work in a family business and my sister was very supportive of me getting help. I was able to take the time off work to get treatment.

I went to see my Doctor and asked him if there was any way I could do this on my own, he told me that I was completely dependent on alcohol and that I would need support. I was finally ready. I couldn’t do this on my own. I finally accepted help.

I went to an interview at Hader Clinic Queensland on a Thursday, and I was in there by the following Monday. The admission process was very easy and quick.

The staff at Hader Clinic Queensland were absolutely amazing, I learned about addiction. The stories of other recovering addicts gave me hope. I was given tools that had been proven and worked for other people. I was introduced to AA and NA. I was taught to read the literature.

They taught me how to journal, I had never done this before. This was life-changing. I was able to get my feelings out on paper and learn how to sit with these uncomfortable feelings. I still do this practice every day. I read the Daily Reflections and Just for Today reading every day. I attend regular meetings.

I couldn’t have done this without Hader Clinic Queensland, the guidance and education I received have turned my life around. The 28 days there gave me space between the last time I used or drank alcohol.

The foundation I built and the daily program I have been given have made living in the community clean and sober a possibility. I now have peers I can talk to. I finally feel a connection to the world around me.

72 days sober and I feel completely free from the compulsion to drink and use drugs. I know that I have a long journey ahead. Thanks to Hader Clinic Queensland and the continuing support I feel confident that I have the tools I need to succeed.

 

Photographs of this client have been changed to protect their privacy.

What is Detox?

Detoxing (or detoxification) is the process of your body removing any substances in your system. This is the safest way to deal with withdrawal symptoms once you cease taking drugs or alcohol.

Each experience with drug and alcohol detox will differ depending on the type of drug and how much and how often the drug was used. Medications present in detox assist former drug users by keeping them comfortable during the process of the substance leaving their bodies.

Withdrawal symptoms may take days or even months to pass for most drugs. The length it takes for withdrawals to occur depends on several factors, such as:

  • The type of drug you are addicted to
  • The duration the addiction has lasted
  • How severe your addiction is
  • The method of drug abuse (how you ingest the drug)
  • The amount of the drug you take at one time
  • Family history and your genetic makeup
  • If you have any medical conditions or mental health conditions

Detoxing at home can sometimes end in tragedy. If you try to quit your drug addiction without medical supervision, you may experience seizures or extreme dehydration. There are multiple inpatient and outpatient detox programs that aim to prevent such complications from occurring.

If you have a severe addiction, residential addiction treatment will be the most beneficial to preventing fatal withdrawals. These inpatient programs include support and monitoring 24 hours a day.

The detox program you receive will depend on your individual circumstances, however, the process generally involves these three steps:

  • Evaluation: you will be screened by the medical team for any issues that may be physical or relating to your mental health. Blood tests will be conducted to measure the number of drugs that are in your system so doctors can be aware of the level of medication you will require. Your drug, medical and psychiatric history will also be evaluated so your long-term treatment plan can be created.
  • Stabilisation: you will be stabilised with medical and psychological therapy to prevent any harm from coming to you. You may be prescribed addiction treatment medications to assist you through this process
  • Preparing for entry into treatment: you will be informed about what the process involves and what you should expect.

Despite medical detoxing limiting withdrawal symptoms, there are some symptoms that will be unavoidable, such as nervousness, insomnia, discomfort, mood swings, loss of sleep or difficulty concentrating.

Detoxing is only the first step in treating addiction and is often not enough for a successful recovery. You should also seek to treat the psychological element of addiction by attending counselling, support groups or inpatient rehab programs.

If you’re struggling with detoxing, Hader Clinic Queensland can provide thorough information so you can make well-informed decisions to help you choose the right detox program for you.

 

What Happens During Detox?

Detoxification – commonly referred to as ‘detox’ – is the first step in addiction treatment for drugs and/or alcohol.

It describes the initial phase of allowing the body to purge all traces of drugs and/or alcohol; a brief but intense period of chemical restructure and recovery that can cause a variety of unpleasant side effects known as ‘withdrawal symptoms’.

Why is Detox necessary?

Detox is an essential part of addiction treatment for two main reasons. Firstly – and somewhat obviously – it removes all traces of drugs and/or alcohol from the user’s system, allowing the body to start the process of physical recovery. Secondly, it is vital in getting the individual ready to begin the psychological recovery process with a clear head. Long-term addiction recovery is as much a psychological process as it is a physical, and detox is the best way to get an individual stabilised mentally before the therapy process begins.

What happens during Detox?

After a sustained period of alcohol and/or drug use, the body and brain become accustomed to a certain level of harmful chemicals, overproduced happy chemicals or an overload of neurotoxins; during detox, these substances gradually leave the system.

Depending on the level of use, this process can take between 7 and 10 days, although it can take longer in extreme cases of poly-drug abuse.

As the body can go into shock during ‘cold turkey’ withdrawal – meaning simply stopping substance use without any assisting medications – detoxing on your own and without professional help can be counterproductive and, in the worst-case scenario, life-threatening.

What is Medical Detox?

When a person checks into a treatment centre, they will begin their recovery by going through a supervised, medically assisted detox.

First, they will undergo a thorough medical assessment, to ensure their treatment plan is perfectly tailored to their individual needs.

Second, they will begin the detox process. This usually takes place in a specialist ward or facility, where patients are monitored around the clock and medical professionals are on standby to deal with any adverse symptoms or medical emergencies they might experience as part of withdrawal.

What are Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s response to being deprived of the dosage of drugs and/or alcohol it has become used to. There are physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, which may vary in intensity depending on the preceding levels of substance use and the patient’s natural body chemistry and mental state.

Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal may include:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shakes and shivers
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and bone aches
  • Stomach cramps
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhoea
  • Chills and/or hot flushes
  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia

Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability and anger
  • Extreme cravings for drugs and/or alcohol

In particularly severe cases, patients may experience seizures, hallucinations, and states of delirium during their detox process.

Because withdrawal symptoms are unpredictable and can be severe, medical detox includes a variety of medications that will ease the symptoms and help the patient through the rough parts of the process. The appropriate medication and dosage vary dramatically with every case, which is another good reason to get professional help when going through detox.

Read more about Drug and Alcohol Detox here.

What Happens To Your Body When You Use Cocaine?

As with all stimulant drugs, the effects of cocaine vary depending on the potency, purity, and quantity of the drug you ingest, as well as your health, body mass, and chemistry.

It is hard to predict the exact effect of any drug, which is why taking drugs is never risk-free.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug – or ‘upper’ – which means it speeds up the messages between your brain and body, causing feelings of euphoria and heightened confidence.

How does Cocaine work?

Cocaine blocks the dopamine transporters in the brain, causing an overproduction of this naturally occurring chemical. Dopamine regulates the pleasure centre of the brain and the amount of dopamine you naturally produce determines our sex drive, appetite, and general feelings of happiness. As the brain goes into overproduction, you will experience extreme versions of perfectly normal feelings and desires.

When you are high on cocaine you may experience

  • Euphoria
  • Out-of-character levels of confidence
  • Feelings of invincibility
  • Increased libido
  • Loss of appetite
  • Illusions of grandeur, extreme strength, and mental clarity
  • Seemingly limitless energy levels

However, the overstimulation of your receptors and the overproduction of dopamine also has immediate negative effects, including

  • Anxiety, agitation, and panic
  • Paranoia
  • Dry mouth
  • Hyperventilation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature

Cocaine can also cause you to feel indifferent to physical pain, which means you are more likely to engage in dangerous activities, damage yourself and then aggravate injuries by ignoring them.

Can You Overdose on Cocaine?

Yes, you can absolutely overdose on cocaine. If you misjudge the strength or quantity of any drug, you are likely to take more than your body can handle and there is no way of knowing for sure how much that might be.

If you take too much cocaine, cocaine that is too strong or cocaine that is ‘cut’ with a different harmful substance, you might experience

  • High anxiety
  • Chest pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors and twitches
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Brain haemorrhage
  • Stroke

What are the Risks of taking Cocaine?

In the worst-case scenario, a cocaine overdose will leave you comatose or dead. However, even if that doesn’t happen, there are many risks involved in cocaine use. If you use cocaine regularly or overdose, you may develop:

  • Depression
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Insomnia and other sleeping disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Heart conditions
  • Cerebral atrophy (brain wastage leading to permanently impaired cognitive functioning)
  • Eating disorders
  • Hallucinations

Depending on how you ingest cocaine, you may also develop

  • A perforated septum (from snorting cocaine)
  • Breathing difficulties, chronic bronchitis, chronic respiratory disease (from smoking cocaine)
  • Tissue damage, collapsed veins, blood-borne viruses (from injecting cocaine)

Cocaine has the potential to wreak absolute havoc with your physical and mental health, even in its purest forms. The added risk of unknown substances being used to ‘cut’ any given batch of the drug means that you are also putting yourself in danger of side effects usually not associated with cocaine, such as abscesses and liver failure.

Learn more about cocaine addiction treatment here.

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