Withdrawal occurs when a person enters primary treatment to break their addiction to drugs or alcohol. Symptoms will vary depending on the type of substance used, length of time used, and the amount consumed per dose.
Addiction to drugs or alcohol is a serious chemical dependency with life-threatening consequences. When people attempt to quit drinking or drug use on their own, they may experience withdrawal symptoms because their body is being deprived of chemicals that were supplied to them by substances. Symptoms may set in several hours after quitting independently. Without the assistance of a medical treatment program, dangerous physical and fatal symptoms may result.
Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Alcohol addiction is one of the most challenging addictions to break. It is also a common addiction due to its wide sale and legal status as a substance. Acute alcohol withdrawal is an extremely serious withdrawal process. The procedure must be medically supervised at a hospital or appropriate clinical environment. Additional alcohol withdrawal symptoms may result in serious seizures, tremors, shaking, sweating, fever, delusional episodes, delirium tremens (DT), and an increased heart rate, to name a few. For more intense withdrawal symptoms, individuals may need to be hospitalized until they are stable. For cases where substance abuse was long-term and severe, the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that, “because of the high prevalence of agitation among patients with withdrawal delirium and the potential lethal outcomes, treatment is best carried out in an ICU.”
Based on the patient’s needs and the physician’s decision, the drug, Vivitrol, may be given during the withdrawal phase from alcohol. The medicine is an opiate blocker. It helps stop alcoholic urges. It also eliminates the euphoria an individual might experience if they consume alcohol again. Some choose this drug for particular patients because it is not an addictive medication and because it’s successful at preventing a future relapse.
Drug Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms from certain drugs, like benzodiazepines, are similar to alcohol. Intense emotions like anxiety, seizures, psychotic reactions, and other physical symptoms are normal for its long withdrawal process.
For opiate addiction (example: Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet), symptoms may be mild or severe. During this phase, the body is ridding itself of painkillers use. More mild symptoms may be insomnia, chills, or minor aches and pains. For withdrawal symptoms on the more severe end, they may result in more physical displays like cold flashes, fever, bone pain, intense cramping, twitching, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, or nausea.
Suboxone is a medicine sometimes used during the withdrawal phase from opiates. It usually works for twenty-four hours. Doctors often prescribe it because it decreases the more painful withdrawal aspects while minimizing drug cravings. Suboxone works by imitating some of the effects of opiates, thus fooling the mind and body during withdrawal. Suboxone is noted for its positive and long-lasting assistance. It can provide benefits for the recovering party for up to three days after it is taken.
Drug withdrawal from a stimulant can be longer, though it varies based on the severity of addiction, length of addiction, and amount consumed. While the duration may be as long as a couple of weeks, the symptoms themselves are milder in nature when compared to withdrawal from alcohol or benzodiazepines. Typical withdrawal symptoms are insomnia, slow responses and functioning, fatigue, irritability, slow heart rate, impaired memory, stalled speech, weight loss, tremors, and anxiety. Due to the impairment in functioning in the mind and body, people may also experience severe depression and suicidal ideation during withdrawal. Anti-depressants may be administered based on a physician’s discretion, if symptoms become life threatening.
Assisted Therapy and Withdrawal
Addiction is a chemical dependency, which changes how the mind and body function. So based on the withdrawal process, physicians or medical professionals may choose to administer medication to help the individual. Withdrawal may be mild or severe. But it is a crucial step in eradicating substance abuse. Programs offer a safe environment for people to get healthy.
For opiate addiction, studies show that medication-assisted therapy is helpful to overcome the withdrawal phase. Various organizations support the use of medicine for a successful treatment and withdrawal phases. By easing potential pain of withdrawal symptoms through this method, more people will be encouraged to enter treatment willingly versus fearfully. Additionally, a successful withdrawal may lower chances of relapse.
Long-term drug or alcohol addiction can have harmful results on the mind and body. Alcoholics often cite the physical pain associated with drinking daily. Consequences like shaking, tremors, missing fragments of time, headaches, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, alcohol poisoning, and seizures (in more advanced cases) are results of heavy, long-term alcohol addiction.
Drug addiction has similar physical pains once the fleeting euphoria wears off. And while some are hesitant to enter treatment because of withdrawal symptoms, physicians and addiction experts will be on hand to ensure a successful recovery. The most important thing is to start the withdrawal phase to eradicate the toxic effects of addiction.
Steps After Withdrawal
Despite some of the information presented here, withdrawal from drugs and alcohol is a healthy step. Much like therapy, recovery only works if you do. And being committed to the withdrawal process is the first powerful step a person can take to beat addiction for good.
Additionally, withdrawal procedures are supervised by skilled, experienced, and highly trained physicians and medical personnel who make sure that the patient is receiving proper care and is not in severe pain. Withdrawal is a process, which aims to reverse damage from substances, so there are challenges. But once withdrawal is complete, the chances for sobriety increase dramatically.
Medication assisted therapy is tool that fixes the chemical components of addiction within the body. While it helps the body, it does not cure the lingering effects of addiction. Cravings, psychological trauma, and behavior patterns are often set during addiction. Sober living, therapy, and twelve-step meetings are all widely advocated tools to continue healing. Despite the severity of an addiction, healing is possible, but it can only start with commitment to treatment.
Guest Post by Kyle Meissner