Understanding The Dangers of Improper Detox and Withdrawal

The use of drugs and alcohol in our society remains a high health risk to millions of people. It’s very easy for young people to start taking drugs or drinking alcohol, yet it can be very difficult to ease off the addictions of each and recover from their dark effects.

Increasing Drug Use

When drug or alcohol addiction is in high gear in a person, there exist far greater chances of irreparable, damaging effects on a person’s brain and body. A person addicted to drugs or alcohol often needs more quantities of each over time to continue to feed the mental and physical need for a high. When a certain amount of a substance no longer feeds the high, the drug user finds a way to take more quantities of the drug. This increased usage contributes to the person’s addiction. As a result, a lengthier withdrawal and detox time is required to overturn the addictive effects of the drugs.

For those who choose to push through on the road to full recovery, the period of detoxification and withdrawal can be very challenging for a heavy user of drugs or alcohol. To overcome drug or alcohol addiction, withdrawal and detox are crucial parts of the road to recovery. Getting help from a medical practitioner or drug and alcohol treatment center is the best way to deal with the horrendous effects of withdrawal.

Withdrawal is Different for Everyone

Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol can be different for every person through the process. The amount of pain, nausea and psychotic episodes in a common withdrawal scenario is wholly dependent on several factors. Doctors point to different variables that can affect a withdrawal—the type of substances used, the average dosage amount, the length of the addiction, and even the addict’s state of mental health even before drug taking.

Some of the worst withdrawal symptoms occur with patients having alcohol, tranquilizer, and opiate addictions. These three substances are well-known for having the most severe withdrawal symptoms.

For alcohol abusers, withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Seizures and irregular heartbeat.
  • Convulsions and the shakes.
  • Headaches and mental confusion.
  • Vomiting.
  • Anxiousness and inability to sleep.
  • Hallucinations.

For tranquilizer addicts, withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Hot/cold sweats.
  • Depression/confusion.
  • Numbness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Dizzy spells.
  • Memory loss.

For opiate addicts, withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Cramping and muscle pains.
  • Hot and cold sweats, fever-like feelings.
  • Inability to sleep or restlessness.
  • Vomiting, stomach cramping/nausea, or diarrhea.

When detoxification starts for a drug user, that’s when the withdrawal symptoms can start to be felt. For frequent heroin users, for example, detox and withdrawal can be very painful and frightening. This period of detox and withdrawal can last anywhere from 10-21 days, depending on the severity of drugs.

The Case for Assisted Withdrawal

Going through withdrawal alone is not recommended by the medical and treatment communities. Drug users with an addiction should not try to quit a drug by themselves. Effects of withdrawal could come into play and cause a dangerous situation. Stopping the use of a drug, and undergoing detoxification under the supervision of a drug center or a doctor is the best possible method for an addict to start the road to recovery.

Goals of Detox and Withdrawal

Setting the stage for drug detox requires a treatment program that addresses both the physical addiction issues and the psychological issues that can arise. The following steps are focused on stopping the addiction:

Step 1: Patient Stabilization

When a patient arrives at a hospital, a drug detox center, or a recovery center, the first step is to stabilize the patient physically. The patient might be undergoing withdrawal symptoms of hallucinations, physical convulsions, seizures or more. In these cases, it’s critical to have a doctor or a drug detox staff ready to sedate the patient to prevent injuries, violence or any problems that may arise.

Step 2: Stop the Drugs

Immediate cessation of the drugs to the patient is mandatory. Detoxification won’t start if more drugs are allowed into the patient. Some doctors might prescribe certain medications for a severe opiate addiction. In this scenario, the opiate medications would then take the place of the abused drug, and its use would become less over time to help the patient become drug-free.

Step 3: Monitor the Withdrawal

As the patient goes through detoxification, it’s important for the medical team to monitor the withdrawal and make decisions based on the patient’s drug history and current detox practices.

Understanding how withdrawal and detoxification work, what the risks are, and how the process should be handled is a topic we know well. If you’re in need of help of a knowledgeable resource, reach out to our staff at The Recovery Village learn more our programs with chemical dependency, detox and withdrawal, and substance abuse issues.

Bellum, Sara, “Real Teens Ask: What Are the Different Types of Opioids?” National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, July 16, 2014. Accessed August 21, 2016. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/blog/post/real-teens-ask-what-are-different-types-opioids-0″Opiate and opioid withdrawal” U.S. National Library of Medicine. April 20, 2016. Accessed August 21, 2016. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm

Hayhurst, Christina J. and Durieux, Marcel E., “Opioid Overdose: The Price of Tolerance”, Scientific American, August 9, 2016. Accessed August 15, 2016. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/opioid-overdose-the-price-of-tolerance/

“Alcohol Detoxification” Patient.info. No date provided. Accessed August 22, 2016. http://patient.info/health/alcohol-detoxification