Substance abuse changes the chemical makeup of the brain. Once a person stops the use of any addictive substance, the body tries to adapt again without them, and this causes withdrawal symptoms. Some substances can be stopped cold turkey, but it’s dangerous to do that with other types. Ones that can be stopped gradually will make dealing with withdrawals a bit easier.
How To Deal With Addiction Withdrawals
Withdrawal symptoms and their intensity vary depending on several factors, such as the type of drug used, the duration of time spent using the drug, the method of usage, medical family history, and your personal health.
A general understanding of withdrawal would be:
– When withdrawal symptoms begin
– Peak of symptoms
– Duration of withdrawal
Different substances have a different timeline of withdrawals, which are briefly described here:
Alcohol: The first withdrawal symptoms begin to appear around eight hours after the last drink. The peak is between 24-72 hours, which can last from a few days up to several weeks.
Prescribed opiates: These drugs include such medicines as Vicodin or OxyContin, and withdrawal could begin within 8-12 hours after last using the drug. It peaks at 12 to 15 hours and usually lasts 5 to 10 days.
Benzodiazepine: Drugs such as Xanax and Valium fall into this category. The onset of benzodiazepine withdrawal usually begins after 1 to 4 days after quitting the drug, and its peak is within the first two weeks. Withdrawal usually lasts a few weeks, but prolonged withdrawal isn’t uncommon, and can continue on for months or even years.
Here are the general types of symptoms to be expected, and some advice on how to handle them.
Nausea: This is a common symptom and a nauseous feeling can be lessened by eating bland foods several times throughout the day rather than three squares. It’s also very important to keep hydrated.
Flu-like symptoms: Cold sweat, fever or chills will usually happen. Mild symptoms can be handled with over-the-counter non-inflammatory drugs, though it would be better to handle symptoms without the use of any medication. For chills, wear several pieces of clothes that you can easily remove when you feel too warm. Ice packs and cool compressions can also help bring down a temperature.
Shaking: Some substances, especially opiate drugs, can make limbs feel heavy and when stopped, the reverse happens making muscles and limbs feel loose which can cause shaking. Controlling the amount of caffeine and soda drinks can help minimize shakes. Focusing on tremors won’t help. It would be better to try different techniques of distraction.
Insomnia: During withdrawal, you might feel sleepy, but can’t get to sleep. Try to maintain a schedule as this will help your body to work like a clock. Also, make sure wherever you’re sleeping has a good environment for sleep such as the optimal temperature and lighting to help.
After admitting a substance problem, detoxing is the next step towards building a strong foundation for recovery. Feelings of fear, irritability, and depression are common, and it’s encouraging to seek help during this stage to ensure a completely successful withdrawal period. Help is always available from your loved ones as well as from professionals.