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Drug Addiction: Signs Someone is Having Drug Withdrawals

Dealing with addiction is debilitating enough, and once someone finds the courage to stop, they will have to deal with drug withdrawals.    The severity and length of withdrawal from an illicit substance is based on several factors, including the amount of a drug that someone used and how often they used it. Sadly, quitting a drug is an uncomfortable experience due to withdrawal symptoms, which makes recovery take months or even years. In many instances, unmanaged withdrawal can be life-threatening and requires medical supervision to keep a person safe during detoxification   Frequent drug or alcohol abuse can interfere with a person’s motivation and reward chemistry, resulting in drug cravings. Continue reading to learn more about the impacts that drugs and alcohol can have on addicts.   

Information on Drug Withdrawals

People who are addicted to illicit substances usually become psychologically dependent on their substance of choice and to the point where they need it to function and feel “normal.” Most of the time, these withdrawal symptoms develop when a substance-dependent person quits a drug “cold turkey” or tries to reduce their usage without professional intervention. During the withdrawal phase, a person’s body is attempting to reach a new state of homeostasis as it dispels the user’s drug of choice.    The end result is normally a person experiencing a large fluctuation of chemicals that will be followed by significant mental and physical health abnormalities. One of the worst aspects of withdrawals is not knowing how exactly it will impact someone, including the length of time withdrawals last.  

How Long Do Withdrawals Last?

The exact duration of withdrawal depends on the particular substance a person used and the magnitude of their dependence on the substance. A withdrawal can normally last days or weeks (but in some cases, it lasts months) to complete resolution of all symptoms. Of course, it depends on several factors, including a person’s body type.    Since different drugs exhibit different withdrawal symptoms, it is best to be informed about the specific drug’s withdrawal symptoms. Here are the most commonly used drugs and the withdrawal symptoms one might experience.    

1. Alcohol Withdrawal

People who depend on alcohol are normally at risk of severe withdrawal symptoms and should not stop drinking “cold turkey” due to the risk of seizures. Alcohol withdrawal is inherently uncomfortable, but for some people, choosing to abstain from it abruptly can result in death. Unfortunately, alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin to present themselves within hours of the last drink, with some of the most serious ones lasting for days. People trying to quit drinking alcohol may experience the following symptoms:  
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Delerium Tremens
  Unfortunately, we do not know who is most at risk for severe withdrawal complications. What we do know is that the likelihood of going through significant withdrawal symptoms increases if a person continues drinking frequently.  

2. Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as “benzos,” are a type of drug that is prescribed by medical professionals to treat anxiety, panic attacks, and sometimes seizures or muscle spasms. When used under a prescription, this medication can help people perform daily functions so that they can pursue a high-quality of life; however, if someone misuses them to experience a high, their risk of developing a drug dependency increases.    Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:  
  • Increased anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability at minor disruptions
  • Hand tremors
  • Muscle spasms
  • Racing pulse
  • Sweating
  • Panic attacks
  • Aches and pains
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Grand mal seizures

3. Heroin and Opiate Withdrawal

Heroin falls under the opioid class of drugs. Opioids work by activating the opioid receptors in our bodies. The activation of these receptors can lead to a release of dopamine in the brain, which reinforces the continued use of these drugs due to their pleasurable (yet short-term) effects. However, taking this medication under the supervision of a doctor can successfully alleviate any physical pain caused by illness, injury, or surgery.    At the same time, some people misuse them, resulting in those individuals becoming psychologically dependent on them.    Opiate withdrawal symptoms include:  
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Constant yawning
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Runny nose
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Goosebumps
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Body aches
  Even though heroin and opioid withdrawal rarely present life-threatening complications, enduring these unpleasant symptoms can present obstacles in the path to recovery.    

4. Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug that influences the brain’s reward center by obstructing the removal of dopamine from the synapses. Reinforced cocaine use lays the groundwork for compulsive patterns of use, enabling the development of psychological dependence on the drug. Sadly, when someone attempts to stop using this drug, they may experience a severe rebound effect in their mood.    For most people, cocaine withdrawal symptoms are rarely physically dangerous, but many include several distressing psychological symptoms, such as the following:  
  • Nervousness
  • Depressed mood
  • Anger
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Lethargy
  • Thoughts about self-harm
  No one should have to deal with the above withdrawal symptoms alone, and the good news is, there are many drug treatment centers that can assist individuals in their journey to sobriety.   

How Can Medically Supervised Drug Detox Help?

Withdrawal is challenging, and oftentimes dangerous, especially if it is someone’s first time trying to become sober. If you or someone you love needs help achieving sobriety, you may need to undergo medical detox. Medical staff at residential treatment centers are trained to help people overcome their withdrawal symptoms in a compassionate and effective manner. During detox, a person will be able to safely rid their bodies of the toxic influence of illicit substances under an expert’s care.   

Ardu Recovery Center Cares

At Ardu Recovery Center, we know that drug withdrawals are debilitating and can impact a person’s life for extended periods. If you or a loved one is battling drug or alcohol addiction, our medical detox center offers 24/7 nursing staff that are qualified to take care of detoxing patients. We are here to ensure that all detox experiences are safe and comfortable.    Please get in touch with us if you have any questions. We are located in scenic Provo, Utah.