Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol can create a physical and emotional burden for the addicted person. When drugs or alcohol are abused repeatedly, they eventually enter the brain where they ultimately hinder its ability to communicate with the rest of the body. Drug abuse affects three main areas of the brain: the brain stem, which controls all functions of the body, the cerebral cortex, which processes information from the body’s five senses and powers problem-solving and decision-making ability, and the limbic system, which controls emotional response.
Never Go “Cold Turkey” Without Professional Withdrawal Help
Recovery from different drugs causes different symptoms. These symptoms occur when a person has taken the drug enough times to develop a chemical dependency to it. The way the drug was administered can also play a role in determining how a person will respond physically and emotionally during rehabilitation and recovery. Detox from alcohol, tranquilizers, and heroin can cause significant physical symptoms such as:
- Profuse sweating,
- Heart palpitations,
- Muscle tension,
- Chest constriction,
- Difficulty breathing,
- and diarrhea
Dangerous physical symptoms, such as seizures, strokes, or even heart attacks in some individuals have been known to occur if a person who is addicted to alcohol or tranquilizers abruptly stops ingesting them. This method of immediately stopping the use of any drug is usually referred to as “cold-turkey” and is not recommended.
Withdrawal symptoms could be severe and painful at times, and they also could be life threatening. This is why professional treatment is highly recommended. The brain and body forget how to function normally during drug abuse, and attempted abstinence causes the addict to experience some discomfort physically and mentally. These symptoms usually last days or even weeks, depending on the severity of the addiction or drug. These symptoms only happen to those individuals who have been doing drugs or alcohol on a regular or heavy basis and the most commonly experienced are:
- and shakes.
Do You Know What to Expect During Withdrawal?
The best way to safely and effectively get through withdrawal symptoms is to enter a residential drug and alcohol rehab center. Anyone attempting withdrawal without supervision finds that the symptoms get so difficult at times they give up and turn back to their addiction. Reaching a successful recovery will take time and determination, combined with professional help and medical attention.
Detoxing the body produces a variety of symptoms depending on the type of drug abused and the duration of abuse. For instance a person who is addicted to meth would experience more painful, extended withdrawals verses a person who has been addicted to heroin. There are many withdrawal symptoms to look for such as:
- Poor Appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightness in chest
- Racing heart
- Heart Attacks
Withdrawal from drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy produce minor and often short-lived physical symptoms. Each person will respond differently during rehabilitation. Some people may have more of an emotional response than a physical response to the process.
All drugs have the capability to produce the following emotional responses when withheld: headaches, insomnia, anger, depression, anxiety, lack of focus, agitation, and a desire to isolate oneself from others. These emotional responses can occur with or without the presence of any physical symptoms. Oxycontin, heroin, and morphine are some of the drugs that can cause immensely uncomfortable physical symptoms, but are usually not dangerous unless other drugs have been abused as well.
There are two stages of withdrawal, the acute stage, which usually lasts for a few weeks, and the post-acute stage (PAWS). During the acute stage most, if not all, of the physical symptoms are experienced. During the post-acute stage most of the physical symptoms have passed and the emotional and psychological symptoms begin to take place. This occurs because during the course of the addiction the brain’s chemistry was changed. During the process of rehabilitation, psychological responses are caused by fluctuating brain chemistry as brain function slowly returns to normal.
Remaining Focused and Positive is Your Key to Recovery
PAWS can last up to two years, so, unfortunately, it is not a fast process to get through. Mood swings, low energy, trouble concentrating, fatigue, and restless sleep are all common symptoms someone may experience when going through this stage. PAWS can seem impossible to get through so it is best to take each day as it comes, try to understand that the uncomfortable symptoms are an indication that the brain is repairing itself, and that recovery cannot be rushed. It is important to remember that resentment and anger will only make the emotional response worse and will slow down recovery. A person recovering from drug or alcohol addiction should remember to take care of themselves, enjoy the good days, and stay focused on their recovery.
The most effective method for treatment of drug or alcohol addiction is through a residential rehabilitation center. These facilities offer physical and psycho-therapeutic treatment. Withdrawal from drug addiction can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, but if the desire for recovery is genuine, success can be gained one day at a time.