Symptoms of Withdrawal
When individuals who are addicted to a specific substance cease consumption suddenly, often in a detox environment, they will go through what is known as withdrawal. When in a supervised setting, withdrawal is a key process of recovery. However, it can be risky if done unsupervised. Explore the common symptoms of withdrawal and learn what to expect.
Emotional Symptoms of Withdrawal
Often, withdrawal symptoms are primarily thought of as physical in nature. However, that is not the case. Withdrawal can also bring about a range of emotional and psychological symptoms, some of which need to be carefully monitored.
Withdrawal can bring about feelings of anxiety in many patients. Addiction isn’t something that can be controlled, and in recovery the future may feel uncertain. For these reasons, anxiety is common.
Depression is also common in some patients going through withdrawal. As the body learns to function without its addictive substance of choice, it may feel overwhelming. Feeling depressed is a natural side effect of such a tremendous change.
Some patients also experience paranoia. They may think that they are victims or that medical professionals aren’t looking out for their best interests. This will pass, and is often just a short-lived symptom.
Withdrawal can also exacerbate existing mental health conditions. Those who struggle with things like clinical depression, borderline personality disorder or schizophrenia may see a resurgence in symptoms during the withdrawal period.
Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal
The greatest changes to a person in withdrawal will relate to their health. Depending on the substance in question, withdrawal from it can lead to a range of unpleasant physical side effects. Often, these symptoms are comparable to getting the flu.
It is nearly impossible to pin down the exact physical symptoms that can crop up during withdrawal. There are many factors that can influence what these symptoms will be. In particular, the kind of substance being abused will play a big role in withdrawal symptoms.
Also important to note is that withdrawal will be impacted by the severity of the addiction. Someone who has been using drugs for a decade will have a tougher time of withdrawal than someone who has only been using for a year. Similarly, those who routinely consume large amounts of drugs or alcohol will struggle more than those who only consume small or infrequent amounts.
Some of the most common physical symptoms of withdrawal include the following:
• Temperature fluctuations
Serious Symptoms of Withdrawal
Many of the most common symptoms of withdrawal are unpleasant, and may be uncomfortable, but they can be managed by most patients. In addition, medical supervision can help to reduce any unpleasant symptoms and ensure the comfort of patients. There is, however, the risk of more serious symptoms of withdrawal that should be addressed.
While rare, it is possible for patients who are in withdrawal from drugs or alcohol to have a stroke or a heart attack. This may happen because the stress of detoxing from an addictive substance puts too much pressure on the heart or the circulatory system.
Hallucinations are also a rare but possible side effect of withdrawal. Patients who are in withdrawal might be convinced that they are seeing visions or hearing voices, but these symptoms are just side effects of withdrawal itself. However, hallucinations can become incredibly unpleasant and overwhelming for patients.
Seizures can also happen during withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. If patients are being monitored and are in a safe environment, these seizures may not result in any long-term problems.
The chance of these more serious symptoms cropping up during withdrawal is slim. Nonetheless, it is critical that patients only participate in withdrawal when they are in the right setting. Trying to detox solo without medical expertise or supervision is an dangerous choice that could lead to irreparable damage.
Duration of Withdrawal Symptoms
The exact duration of the withdrawal and its symptoms will depend heavily on the individual, his or her history of addiction and the addictive substance in question. However, most individuals will work through the symptoms of withdrawal in under one week. Symptoms tend to peak at 72 hours after last consumption and improve thereafter.
Keep in mind that PAWS, or post acute withdrawal syndrome, is a common part of the recovery process. Months after withdrawal has ended, PAWS can be a milder, secondary withdrawal. Individuals should be aware of the potential of PAWS in order to be strong against it and work through any lingering symptoms.
Withdrawal Symptoms for Specific Substances
The symptoms of withdrawal can vary depending on the substance people are withdrawing from. Some of the most commonly used addictive substances in the United States include opiates, cocaine, benzodiazepines and alcohol.
Heroin and prescription painkillers might appear very different, but they are both opiates. Therefore, withdrawing either can be very similar. Opiate withdrawal is often characterized by a very strong flu-like feeling. Chills, bone aches and muscles aches are among the worst symptoms reported by patients.
During a cocaine withdrawal, patients may experience a lot of agitation and restlessness. It is common for those who are addicted to cocaine to feel very sad and even depressed. It may be difficult to be positive without the stimulating effects of cocaine.
A withdrawal from alcohol is considered one of the most medically dangerous types of withdrawal. Dehydration is a major concern thanks to extreme sweating, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Sensitivity to light is common, and patients may also experience tremors, seizures or hallucinations. It is vital that those with alcohol withdrawal symptoms are monitored around the clock by trained medical professionals.
Withdrawing from benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax is often accompanied by digestive trouble. Cramping, diarrhea or nausea are all possible symptoms. In addition, individuals can experience a range of psychological side effects. Thoughts of suicide and paranoia are common.
The symptoms of withdrawal are varied. However, what doesn’t change is the need for medical supervision throughout withdrawal. This ensures that individuals withdrawing from drugs or alcohol can remain safe and healthy throughout the detox and recovery process.