It’s a very cold day in the middle of winter, with temperatures well below zero. Suddenly, the furnace quits and the windows in your home are opened wide, allowing a freezing north wind to blow through every room.
You reach for a blanket, but it’s hardly sufficient. You shiver. You’re exceedingly uncomfortable. You might even die. The warmth your body needed to be comfortable and to sustain its proper functions has been removed. It complains. And so it is with drug withdrawal. Your body craves something and it isn’t getting it.
Withdrawal is both physical and psychological
Withdrawal can be both physical and psychological, because not all addictions are categorized as physical dependence. In general, drug withdrawal can be nasty business if professional help is either not available or not wanted. How long does it last? That depends on the individual, but several days is not uncommon, and in some cases, several weeks of symptoms is experienced.
Alcoholics experience the “shakes” when they are coming down off of their drug of choice. This physical manifestation of withdrawal is very common. This withdrawal symptom is caused by prolonged use of the drug alcohol. While a “hangover” is a mild form of withdrawal, it pales in comparison to the torture that alcoholics can experience when trying to detox.
That is why withdrawal from alcohol, or any other drug, can be so very difficult without medical intervention. Sometimes addicts will say they don’t want to go into treatment because they fear the withdrawal. The fear is not unfounded, as nerves throughout the body may become highly sensitive, which creates extreme stimulation, which leads to the discomfort. Drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs begin with a plan for handling withdrawal symptoms.
Can be Mild or Extreme
Drug withdrawal symptoms range from mild to extreme. In the case of mild drug withdrawal, the person experiences nausea, vomiting, headaches, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, insomnia and tremors. More serious withdrawal symptoms include, but are not necessarily limited to fever, rapid pulse rate, heart palpitations, heavy sweating, respiratory distress, hallucinations. Other extreme physical manifestations are difficulty walking, confusion and the person may also have seizures. From mild to extreme, withdrawal symptoms can become life-threatening.
Getting over the withdrawal symptoms is an important part of treatment and recovery. If a person is in constant discomfort, extreme or otherwise, it is difficult to move forward in the process.
Depending on the drug of choice used by the patient, medical professionals can design a treatment plan to help ease the severity of the withdrawal symptoms and allow the patient to return to a more healthy state. This treatment includes medical intervention for drug detox and to curb withdrawal symptoms, mental health counseling, social services and group therapy.
Look for complete program for Drug Withdrawal, Treatment and Recovery
Looking at a complete program, one can understand that even if physical manifestations of drug withdrawal are addressed, and even if the substance has been purged from the body, that does not constitute success. There is a vast difference between treatment and recovery.
The first phase of treatment may be to ride the body of the drug, but the person is still addicted. Treatment programs are designed to give the addict a personal plan for regaining his/her life, and once the treatment phase is completed, recovery takes over to help maintain the health and stability of the recovering addict.
What defines a successful outcome is largely determined by the individual, as some programs may highly suggest, if not require, that a person never use again. That is easy to understand in the case of illegal drugs, but some alcoholics want treatment so they can drink again without getting into the grips of alcoholism or alcohol abuse.
Programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, teach abstinence and guide their members to the path of sobriety, with celebrations at milestones. Users of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other dangerous, illegal substances are not going to receive any advice on how to use without becoming addicted. Street drugs are deadly.
When prescription medication is illegally sold on the street, even that medicine is potentially deadly when abused. Drugs which are designed for good can be used as a gateway to death when in the hands of a thrill-seeking or drug-craving person.
Must stay with it!
Some things that need to be understood when it comes to drug withdrawal are that variables in each individual case will determine the length and strategy of the treatment. It is important to stay with the treatment program.
For example, a patient who is prescribed methadone for withdrawal symptoms, and who chooses to discontinue the methadone treatment after being in the program for months, will likely find that the withdrawal from the withdrawal drug is worse than the original drug of abuse. That is why a carefully monitored program, administered by a medical professional, is so vitally necessary to ensure the best possibility for a positive outcome.
Over the years the medical community has discovered ways of minimizing the drug withdrawal discomfort. The important thing is for people to get off the drug of abuse and back on track to a healthy and happy life.
There need not be the fear of drug withdrawal if the person is willing to submit to proper treatment and allow the treatment and recovery process to unfold. The best place to begin is to consult with a medical professional and get that process started.
There are treatment centers and hospitals in every community that can be that first step in the road back to good health.
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