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Withdrawals: The Most Common Withdrawal Symptoms and How to Deal with Them

If you have been drinking or using drugs heavily for a long period of time, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.  Keep reading to find out what the most common symptoms of withdrawal are, and how to deal with them. 

What Is Withdrawal? 

Withdrawal happens when your body becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol to function. This happens because certain drugs and alcohol are depressants, which slow down your brain function and alters the communication between your nerves. If you are taking in a depressant heavily and consistently over a long period of time, your brain chemistry can change to function around the depressant and keep you alert and awake. When you lessen your use or cut the depressant out entirely your brain frantically tries to readjust and overcompensate for the change which can result in a plethora of various withdrawal symptoms, some of them life-threatening.  The duration of your withdrawal will depend on the substance you are detoxing from, how long you’ve consistently used that substance and your physical makeup. Withdrawal typically begins 8-24 hours after last consuming drugs or alcohol and can last anywhere from a few days to months. 

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Some of the most common physical symptoms of withdrawal, and how to deal with them are
  • Vomiting – nausea, and vomiting are very common among people detoxing. Frequent vomiting can lead to dehydration, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening if left untreated. Do your best to keep yourself hydrated with clear liquids, which contain electrolytes, and avoid eating until you can keep liquids down so you don’t irritate your stomach further. Seek medical attention if you don’t stop vomiting after 24 hours, or if you vomit a black coffee-ground-like substance that could indicate stomach bleeding. 
  • Sweating – particularly those withdrawing from alcohol can experience extreme sweat. To manage this symptom make sure to maintain good hygiene and drink water and electrolytes to avoid dehydration. 
  • Changes in appetite – depending on the substance you’re detoxing from you could experience an increase or decrease in appetite. The best way to deal with these changes is to attempt to eat regular healthy meals as often as possible, accounting for other symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Drug and alcohol abuse can deplete the body of vital vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to eat plenty of nutritious food in order to restore your health and help you feel your best. 
  • Restless legs – restless leg syndrome or RLS is a condition characterized by the overwhelming urge to move the legs, which results in insomnia. RLS is most common with those experiencing withdrawal from opioids. If you are struggling with restless legs you can ask your doctor about a prescription medication to help you cope. There are also home remedies you can try, like soaking your legs in a hot bath, using menthol creams or lotions, moderate exercise, and the use of compression stockings. 
Some physical symptoms of withdrawal are less common but still important to note, including hallucinations, delirium, and seizures. Doing your best to maintain healthy habits is your best bet at managing withdrawal symptoms. Eating regular nutritious meals and taking vitamin supplements, staying hydrated, and getting exercise and good sleep are all great ways to re-regulate your body and mind, and they are all great habits that will set you up for success in your recovery.

Mental Withdrawal Symptoms

Not all symptoms of withdrawal present as physically as vomiting or sweating, some affect you more psychologically. Common mental symptoms of withdrawal and how to deal with them are:
  • Changes in mood – including becoming more depressed or anxious. This is a result of changes in your brain chemistry with the absence of the previously abused substance. The best way to get through these mood changes is to find healthy coping mechanisms like exercise, which will release dopamine that will help to restore chemical balance to the brain. Exercise and taking vitamin supplements can also be helpful in reducing substance cravings and avoiding relapse. 
  • Irritability – people withdrawing from psychiatric drugs often report experiencing irritability and anger while detoxing. There are multiple ways to healthily deal with negative emotions, you can try to counter them with positive practices like meditation and yoga, or you can release them by screaming into a pillow or tossing rocks into a river. Remember when choosing how to deal with your anger that your safety and the safety of those around you is of the utmost importance. 
  • Sleeping difficulties – depending on your situation, you could encounter insomnia or over-exhaustion. The key here is to try to get an average of eight hours of sleep, as hard as it may be. Create a regimented sleep schedule where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, and establish a peaceful nighttime routine to help you wind down each night. Consider using natural supplements like melatonin, and avoid caffeine.
Detox and withdrawal can be very emotionally challenging, so it’s important to be conscious of your mental state and health during this time. Find a support group, therapist, good friend, or family member you can talk to about what you’re experiencing, and participate in relaxing activities like stretching, yoga, and meditation. Keeping yourself in a positive headspace will help you to stave off relapse and set you up for success in recovery. 

Seek Medical Supervision

If you plan on detoxing from alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines it is vital to do so only under doctor supervision as quitting all at once can be severely dangerous or even life-threatening. 

Contact Ardu Recovery Center

If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms there’s no reason to risk going through it alone, contact the experts at Ardu Recovery Center today. Take the safe route and go through detox and rehab supervised 24/7 by medical professionals in one of our multiple drug and alcohol programs. We pride ourselves on using modern methods to help you recover from addiction safely, successfully, and as comfortably as possible. We are located in scenic Provo, Utah.