A person’s quest for freedom from drugs is not a straightforward journey. Before you even think about the problem of relapse, you first need to overcome a host of drug withdrawal symptoms. The physical symptoms can be severe that the recovering person may not manage without professional help.
Early detection is important, as some patients develop thoughts related to self-harm or physical changes, such as increased heart rate, that impair normal functioning. While the symptoms are observable, you may lack medical knowledge to correctly diagnose whether the manifested body changes are due to drug withdrawal or another physical illness.
What is Drug Withdrawal?
Sustained use of drugs creates mental and physical dependence and tolerance. At this level, the person’s natural balance is off the charts but eventually, the body becomes accustomed to its altered biochemistry.
So when a person abruptly ceases to stop taking drugs, the body reacts. After all, it has adapted to the drug effects for some time.
Different drugs produce different withdrawal symptoms. But generally speaking, you will experience any of the following:
1. Mood Changes
Drugs affect hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate your mood. When either depressant or stimulant is taken out of your system, you experience significant mood changes. You may become easily irritated or angry. Some drugs will elicit depression and lethargy after withdrawal
2. Difficulty Sleeping
Powerful stimulants keep your mind so active that your body clock shifts. Likewise, when you withdraw from using these drugs, your sleeping pattern becomes disrupted once again.
Imagine running at high speed every day for a month, then suddenly taking a full stop without cooling down. Energy levels work the same way, and so you feel fatigued (physically and mentally) after prolonged or heightened use of drugs. In some instances, fatigue comes with muscle pain.
Having uneasy feelings is common in patients immediately after the cessation of intake. You will have a hard time focusing as your mind is likely bombarded with several thoughts. Your brain, after all, is central to your everyday functioning and the first to be affected by any chemical intake.
Shaking is a usual reaction to alcohol and powerful stimulants. In some cases, the tremors become so severe that a patient needs medicines to function.
Your stomach absorbs whatever you ingest. Whether you take large amounts of drugs or quit taking them, your stomach is likely to become upset due to imbalance. You feel discomfort, which is sometimes accompanied by diarrhea and vomiting.
Fever and chills occur in some recovering patients. While over-the-counter medicines help manage these flu symptoms, you are wise to seek professional help to avoid complications.
While rare, some patients do experience hallucinations. When your physical body is heavily compromised and cognitive functioning is impaired, imagining things becomes a possibility.
If not relapse, recovering patients may entertain suicidal thoughts when the symptoms go out of their control.
Management of Symptoms
There is no way to go around drug withdrawal syndrome. A patient has to go through it. Your attending rehabilitation doctor does help you manage the symptoms to avoid unpleasant consequences.
Mild symptoms like mood changes and low energy levels are manageable. But early detection is key to the prevention of severe cases. The danger comes when a person fails to recognize that the symptoms are caused by drug withdrawal as they are too general, and one may not necessarily exhibit all symptoms at once.
Thus, recovering addicts are encouraged to seek treatment from a facility that has a controlled environment and an overseeing medically-trained staff available anytime.
Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help alleviate symptoms. Prescription varies according to drug type, and the dosage depends on a person’s tolerance. The list may include the following: clonidine to reduce heart rate; diazepam to treat anxiety and muscle spasms; and buprenorphine to manage symptoms related to opioid withdrawal.
Withdrawal, regardless of the type of drug used, affects a person’s cognitive, physical, and emotional health. Treatment, therefore, needs to be holistic. Besides medication, the patient undergoes counseling, meal planning, water therapy, and even yoga and meditation.
A solid support system is crucial to the success of drug rehabilitation treatment. A patient is fighting the mental cravings during the withdrawal phase, at the same time his or her body is physically weak from the detoxification. During this period, your family, friend, or colleague needs both professional and social help.