What is Drug & Alcohol Withdrawal
For individuals addicted to drugs or alcohol, withdrawal is a well-known word that brings about feelings of fear and dread. It occurs only after the body has adapted to the repeated use of a drug and is recognized as a series of negative symptoms that occur when use has stopped for an extended period, whether by choice or circumstance. Symptoms vary based on the drug, duration of use and the individual. In addition to being painful and uncomfortable, withdrawal symptoms can be potentially dangerous, especially for those who have become dependent on substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines.
The only way to overcome these symptoms is to either wait for the substance to pass naturally, returning the body back to a normal state or use more of the chosen drug. Most people choose the second option, as it provides immediate relief. However, doing so contributes to a perpetual cycle of addiction.
If you or a loved one needs help for substance use disorder, please contact Brookdale today to begin the treatment and recovery process. Your first step to a life…recovered is just one phone call away. Call 855-575-1292
Why Does it Occur?
Withdrawal does not occur immediately after taking a drug, but instead develops after repeated use. It is most common when a substance is being abused, though it can still occur even if a patient is taking a prescribed medication as they are intended to for too long.
After taking a drug for a certain period of time, the user will eventually develop a tolerance to that drug. While the amount of time and degree of tolerance depends on the type of drug and how it is being used, building a tolerance is frequently the first warning side that substance use disorder could develop. Tolerance is characterized by the individual needing more of their chosen drug to produce the same effects they once felt with a smaller amount of the substance. This occurs because their body is adapting to the drug and its effects, changing overtime so the central nervous system can function more effectively whenever the substance is taken.
Eventually, the body reaches a point where it forms a dependence on the drug. Dependence is characterized by the symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal and while possible to be physically dependent without being addicted, it is typically outcome for many. When the substance user stops taking the drug at this point, withdrawal takes effect because the body has changed itself so much that it can no longer function properly on its own.
In other words, withdrawal occurs because the body has learned to rely on the abused substance as a component for its day to day operation, and without it is unable to operate normally. How exactly the body changes will vary based on the drug and the individual. In most cases, it changes by forming new dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain to help manage the unnatural surges of these chemicals that most drugs cause when they are taken for the purpose of experiencing a high. As the drug is abused, a large number of receptors are filled in the body. When use abruptly stops, the brain is left with empty receptors that it expects to have filled. This leads to the negative symptoms that withdrawal is known for, thus perpetuating the cycle of continued use even further.
Withdrawal impacts a user both emotionally and physically, but how these effects are distributed depends on the type of drug used, its duration, and the individual nature of the user. Depressant and sedative drugs such as alcohol and opioids tend to have more notable physical symptoms, meanwhile stimulants drugs like cocaine and Adderall usually have fewer physical symptoms but more emotional side effects. Of course, all of this still varies from person to person, and no substance has the exact same effects on two different people.
When it comes to the physical symptoms, there are a number of withdrawal symptoms that are common across most types of drugs. A few of these include:
- Excessive Sweating
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Stomach Pains
- Difficulty Breathing
- Irregular Heart Rate
- Muscle Tension
In dangerous circumstances, such as the use of highly addictive substances, such as alcohol and benzos, withdrawal may cause:
- Heart attacks
Depending on the drug and the individual, withdrawal can also harm a person’s mental health. These side effects are worse in some cases because unlike physical symptoms, they are usually more difficult to spot. Some of the common emotional symptoms that accompany drug withdrawal are:
- Panic Attacks
- Mood Swings (especially irritability)
- Social Isolation
- Decreased Appetite
- Memory Loss
- Poor Concentration
- Impaired Cognition
Handled improperly, withdrawal can be incredibly dangerous to a person’s health, hurting them both physically and mentally. For this reason, recovering from addiction is a task best managed with the help of an experienced and licensed rehab facility. There, the individual can receive treatment under the supervision of medical and clinical professionals, ensuring withdrawal is managed in the most effective way possible.
During rehab, most individuals will experience withdrawal during detoxification. The worst of the symptoms usually occur within three or four days of starting detox, and though this step is difficult, it is crucial for breaking the addiction’s hold on the patient. To make this less difficult to bear, medications are often administered to mitigate negative symptoms, while patients are also given access to various recreational activities and holistic approaches. At Brookdale Premier Addiction Recovery, this includes amenities like a fitness and recreation center, indoor pool and outdoor swimming pools, yoga, guided meditation and a sauna.
Get Help Through a Medically Managed Detoxification Program Today
Overcoming withdrawal can seem impossible, but with dedication and the help of a qualified rehab center, recovery is always possible. At Brookdale, our trained medical professionals will provide you with comprehensive detox protocols, in the most compassionate way possible. You or your loved one will be welcomed with understanding and love, receiving the individualized care you deserve.
Call us today at 855-575-1292 to speak with an Admissions Specialist about our program and services.