What is withdrawal? How long does it last?
Drug abuse can be a very disturbing concept to overcome for everyone involved. It doesn’t matter what drug you choose, what matters is, it not only effects and causes distress to the individual that is using, but it also impacts the family, friends, and other loved ones that are connected and involved that care about them. Addiction can cause severe damage to others involved and effect everyone’s life.
When someone chooses to stop doing drugs, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, or whatever the drug of choice is that they are addicted to, they need to make the sacrifice and choice to live without it and cope with it. This is going to be very hard for them at first, and they will have to learn to face the facts of reality and overcome this struggle. The loved one with an Addiction now has both a physical and mental dependence on their substance of choice. It is very important to understand this. Everything takes time and nothing happens over night. It will take time to construct new and healthy habits, physically and mentally, while breaking old habits and ways.
When you are dependent on something, withdrawal is the first step when quitting. A frequently asked question is, ”how long does withdrawal last?” Well there is no exact answer. Everyone is different and their drug of choice has a huge factor when determining this.
Withdrawal is the act of moving something away or taking something away. When you withdraw from drugs/alcohol you are removing the drug or decreasing the amount of drug from the person’s body, which can cause great pain and agony. Depending on the drug and how much you are consuming, you are decreasing the amount of the drug taken until you no longer depend on it and are able stop. When treating addiction, it is strongly advised that medical supervision is accessible. In the past, individuals have tried stopping their addiction spontaneously and it has failed or turned out to be deadly. The amount that is consumed or the type of drug you are using has a big factor with this.
During withdrawal an individual can have many negative encounters. Anything from feeling nauseous, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, the chills, tremors, body aches and pains, panic attacks, and anxiety. There are many different symptoms that can occur. The reasoning behind this, is because your body is reacting to the lack or decrease of drug in your’ system. People usually start using drugs to hide depression or to mask pain. When the drug leaves your system, they will experience side effects and have feelings of heartache, that had caused them to use in the first place. This usually turns into an emotional roller coaster for them or a very real and physically excruciating and uncomfortable pain. In reality it is tough to face and there will be nothing to help hide these feelings or mask them anymore.
Using a drug for a long period of time can change your body and your brain. This change will take time, a lot of hard work, and dedication to beat. It will also take time to get the body to working and thinking like it used to or at least close to its original state. The withdrawal process and symptoms can start as early as a couple hours once you’ve decreased your dosage, or it can take as long as a few days to start. While the person is in withdrawal they will need to be monitored to make sure that they aren’t “detoxing” to fast. Again, if they try to quit immediately, they may experience severe consequences. Some of the more severe side effects are seizures, strokes, or going into comma, that could potentially lead to death.
How long does withdrawal last? It’s a question that has no exact answer. Different symptoms vary when it comes to withdrawal and can last anywhere from a few days up to a few weeks. It highly depends on each person and their personal addiction. The most common withdrawal times last anywhere between a week and 14 days. Again there is no definite answer. No matter how long it last, withdrawal is just the start of the process of mending from an addiction.
If you have been using any addictive drugs and choose to stop all of a sudden or you decrease the amount that you are used to drastically, you can begin to experience many different and uncomfortable symptoms that occur known as withdrawal. The intensity and length of these withdrawal symptoms can vary, depending on the type of drug and how long you have used that drug for.
While the physical symptoms of withdrawal might last only a few days or a week, the psychological withdrawal is worse and can result in depression or dysphoria, that can last for weeks, or sometimes even have long term effects.
Factors in withdrawal:
• The length of addiction. The amount or consumption used daily for a long period of time can cause you to have a high tolerance and more severe withdrawal symptoms.
• The combination of drugs abused, including alcohol. A combination and dependence of using drugs and alcohol can create an exclusive circumstance of withdrawal symptoms, which might make things worse with one another.
• The dose of the drug when the patient enters detox. Tolerance develops from continuous substance abuse. Some will increase their dose in order to feel the desired results of feeling what they think is “normal”. The more you take and higher level of tolerance, the more likely it is that withdrawal symptoms will be crucial.
• The continuance of co-occurring physical or mental disorders. If a patient is effected from a mental health disorder like depression or anxiety, or a physical condition like chronic pain, these symptoms could increase due to withdrawal and cause lots of distress.
• Half-life of the drug. In general, if the drug is short term, withdrawal effects will take place immediately after the last dose. If it’s long term, withdrawal syndrome may be delayed for a few days.
According to the Addiction study, common withdrawal symptoms that develop in association with a number of drug types include:
• Mood disturbances. This can mean mood swings, irritability, and/or agitation.
• Sleep disturbances. Insomnia regardless of intense fatigue is common.
• Physical issues. These may include experiencing chills, sweating, tremors or shaking, as well as flu-like symptoms, such as a runny nose and headache, nausea, and vomiting.
• Cravings. The longing to use the drug of choice in order to stop the withdrawal symptoms is powerful.
Different drugs cause different side effects and withdrawal symptoms in addition to the symptoms listed. Below are symptoms specific to withdrawal from the types of drugs listed:
Alcohol and benzodiazepines. These drugs have very similar withdrawal syndromes due to their similar components of action. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
Opioids, such as heroin and painkillers. Withdrawal symptoms from opioids can include:
• Muscle aches.
• Bone and joint pain.
• Increased sensitivity to pain.
• Gastrointestinal distress.
strong>Stimulants, such as cocaine and methamphetamines. Withdrawal from stimulants can cause mental health complications such as:
• Suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Marijuana. Based on popular belief, marijuana is addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms with excessive use. These symptoms can include:
• Physical symptoms such as fever, sweating, tremors, and stomach pain.
“Bath salts.” Also known as synthetic cathinone, methylone or mephedrone. Bath salts can cause a number of displeasing symptoms when going through detox. These include:
• Sleep disturbances.
• Lack of appetite
Ketamine. More research on ketamine withdrawal symptoms is needed, but there have been some reports of symptoms including:
No matter what the drug is, detoxing at a medical facility is always the smartest choice as well as safest, especially when reoccurring mental health disorders are an issue. On some occasions, withdrawal symptoms can lead to complications and serious health issues that require immediate medical attention.
The reasoning for this, is that sometimes patients are recommended to try detox at home when serious substance abuse issues are present. Instead, enrolling at an inpatient detox program that provides 24-hour medical care is crucial, ongoing medical monitoring, and a therapeutic follow-up program is recommended.
This general approach is detoxing on your own is both misguided and wrong. First of all, the spread and increase of detox products on the market make it seem like any kind of detox is perfectly okay to do by yourself as well as safe to do in the comfort and privacy of your own home. The problem with this is that detoxing from drugs and alcohol has a lot more to it and is a bigger issue than just simply going on a liquid-formula, pill or other regimen that’s suppose to clean the body of toxins from food.
For example, detoxing from alcohol and/or drugs is not that simple and is a risky situation and potentially deadly. Rather than using a colon cleanse or a do-it-yourself procedure to drop excess water and body weight. It simply will not be effective.
Anyone who wants to get off a dependence on alcohol or drugs should only attend detox through a licensed detox facility where the process is monitored and supervised 24 hours by medical experts.
It’s important to know that detox is only the beginning or start of the treatment for drug/ alcohol addiction. It doesn’t matter your drug of choice because addiction is both psychological and physical, patients benefit from psychotherapeutic treatment to address the issues of cravings and changes made in the brain. As a result of existing substance abuse. Detox alone might help the patient to stop abusing drugs and alcohol short term, but without having proper check-ups, and therapy, the risk of relapse is great.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in some cases, symptoms affiliating with drug withdrawal are effortlessly treated with medications that decrease or get rid of the discomfort. Keep in mind that treating withdrawal isn’t the same as treating the addiction itself.
How to cope with opiate withdrawal
– To better assist yourself with withdrawal, getting in the mindset is very important. If this seems impossible, you will most likely feel fatigued and be more likely to fail. If this procedure seems impossible reassure and encourage yourself that you can succeed, and think of what you have overcome so far and accomplished.
– Let yourself know that the pain you are experiencing is temporary and it won’t last forever. Also remind yourself that others have experienced the same issues and have been in the same situation as you, and have overcome this.
– Learn about the early and late symptoms that you may experience, and be aware of complications that may arise. It is important you are entering withdrawal with proper medical support to avoid these types of complications.
-Accept that you will have a hard time sleeping. Often withdrawing causes you to have insomnia and there’s nothing you can do to help this. There are some over the counter medicines that could help such as benadryl, or antihistamine that can cause drowsiness. Or to approach this in a natural way try taking a warm bath or sipping on a warm non-caffeinated beverage.
-Take it one step at a time and remember it took time to get to the point you are at now. You can only bear the pain one moment at a time. Pain in the past is only a memory and future pain is yet to come. Focus on how you can deal with the pain that you are in now.
-Watch for Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) which are symptoms that could last a few months. Symptoms such as:
• Lack of thinking clearly
• Trouble concentrating
• Impaired reasoning
• Repetitive and restricted thinking
• Memory loss, short or long term or both
• Emotional numbness
• Problems balancing or having slow reflexes
Ideas to lesson your pain of withdrawal
-Seek medical assistance and attend a long-term rehab, or even doing a short-term hospital detox. You can also attend NA groups that are offered for at least a year before/after withdrawal. This may help lesson your chances of relapse.
-Use over the counter medications. Again as stated above, benadryl, or antihistamine are good alternatives in helping or a warm bath accompanied with a warm non-caffeinated beverage.
-Get emotional support from any family members, friends or loved ones that are positive influences. Make sure you spend time with people that genuinely care about you.
-Exercise, Research has shown that exercise triggers endorphins, the body’s natural opiate system.
Exercising will even help you feel better about yourself.
-Enjoy entertainment and engage in highly entertaining activities to get your mind off of your symptoms.
-Eat healthy foods such as nuts, lean meats, vegetables, and fruit. Eating junk food can make you feel negative.
-Don’t substitute one addiction for another and avoid alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine.
-Reward yourself. Look back at any accomplishments and be proud of yourself for overcoming something that was very difficult.
-Ask your doctor if there’s any recommended prescriptions that can help you cope with withdrawal.