One of the earliest steps towards recovery is the detoxification and withdrawal process. When the body becomes dependent on a drug or substance to function properly, suddenly stopping use can cause various severe symptoms. Many people believe they should be able to handle withdrawal on their own before entering a treatment facility. However, depending on the severity of the addiction, the withdrawal process can be arduous and draining and often requires professional medical attention.
A significant aspect of substance abuse is the repeated, continuous ingestion of the drug in question. While some drugs are potent enough to become addicted after a single-use, most addiction disorders develop over time. Often, because signs of addiction can be gradual, a person may be in denial about their dependence on the drug. Because a person may not be addicted after the first use, they continue to believe they can use the drug “on occasion” without developing an addiction. However, as they use more and more, a habit will form, and a person may not even realize it until it is too late.
Once an addiction has formed, the brain is fully adjusted to functioning in the presence of the drug. Additionally, the body can develop a physical dependence on the drug in much the same way. Withdrawal occurs when substance use suddenly ceases. Because the brain and body have adjusted to functioning with the drug, it struggles to function in the same way without the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can range be physical or psychological and may be mild or life-threatening in some cases.
The signs of withdrawal can vary greatly depending on the type of substance being used. For example, stimulant drugs and depressant drugs may have opposing effects, although a withdrawal on either can be potentially life-threatening. If you or a loved one are attempting to quit using drugs and start experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it is essential to seek professional medical help as soon as possible. While many people feel that they may be able to handle withdrawal on their own, it can be an incredibly challenging process. Medical support increases the chances of successfully getting clean as well as ensuring safety.
Opioids and opiates are a class of drugs developed using or replicating the opium found in the poppy plant. Commonly abused opioids include heroin, fentanyl, and morphine. Many commonly misused prescription painkillers are also opiates, including Oxycontin and Vicodin. Opioids are known for being incredibly addictive. It is not uncommon for a person to develop a dependence on opioids after only one or two uses. Because of their potency, withdrawal from opioids is commonly a painful and challenging experience. A detox program for opioids will often be MAT, meaning it uses prescription drugs to reduce symptoms, such as Methadone.
Some symptoms associated with withdrawal from opioids include:
Depressants have similar symptoms as opioids, as opioids are just one class of depressant drugs. While most depressants are not known to be as addictive or dangerous as most opioids, the withdrawal process can still be difficult. Depressant drugs include alcohol, GHB, and anti-anxiety medications.
Withdrawal symptoms associated with depressant drugs include:
Whereas depressant drugs decrease the functions of the central nervous system, stimulants boost these functions. Stimulants can often have the opposite effects of depressant drugs, but that doesn’t make the withdrawal process any less dangerous. Examples of stimulant drugs include cocaine, crack, and prescription amphetamines such as Ritalin and Adderall.
Withdrawal symptoms associated with stimulant drugs include:
Detox is often the first step in treatment for severe addiction disorders. Withdrawal symptoms get worse the more dependent and addicted to a substance an individual is. While many people feel they can “get clean” at home, most are not realizing how challenging the withdrawal process can be. Cravings and urges become increasingly intense, leading many to relapse before the withdrawal process is even over. In some cases, withdrawal can even be life-threatening.
A detox program ensures that a person is receiving professional medical support and supervision during the entire process. This makes sure a person will not suffer major medical trauma during withdrawal and eliminates the chance of immediate relapse. After a detox program, an individual should immediately check into either an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility.
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