Painful withdrawal symptoms are often a significant deterrent to getting treatment. Perhaps you’ve considered cutting back on an addictive substance only to start again when the withdrawal symptoms become too much. However, through medical detox, you can begin treatment as comfortable as possible, while limiting your risk of relapse and serious medical complications. Attempting to go through withdrawals on your own may be a potentially dangerous idea. Some drugs can cause life-threatening symptoms in withdrawal, while others cause intense discomfort.
If you’ve decided to start your road to recovery, here’s everything you need to know about the first step: detox.
Medical detoxification, or detox, is a process with which you can remove your body’s dependence on a particular drug. The goal of medical detox is to get the drugs out of your system as safely and comfortably as possible. Ceasing or scaling back drug use will typically cause your body to experience withdrawals. Withdrawal can manifest in a variety of symptoms depending on the drug your body is addicted to, the length of time you were using the drug, and the dosage that your body was used to. In some cases, severe withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening.
Different substances cause different withdrawal symptoms depending on the degree to which your brain becomes dependent. Some drugs have a low risk for dependency. For instance, marijuana addiction is rare and when it occurs, it’s formed through psychological dependence rather than having a chemical hold on your brain. Psychological dependence is when you become emotionally attached to a substance. Symptoms can feel tangible, causing sweats or even tremors, but withdrawal will, for the most part, manifest in psychological symptoms like anxiety or depression.
Chemical (also called physical) addiction is when your brain becomes accustomed to the chemical you’re using and depends on it to maintain balanced brain chemistry. If you build a tolerance, your brain will require more and more of the substance to maintain the same effect. In some cases, your brain’s natural functions will go into overdrive trying to return to normal levels. When you stop using, your brain’s natural chemical process will take time to return to normal or it will work extra hard to correct itself, depending on the chemical. Either way, you will experience this struggle as withdrawal symptoms.
Due to these chemical imbalances, the body will experience a variety of uncomfortable (and sometimes dangerous) withdrawal symptoms. They can take physical or mental form, causing severe discomfort as the body attempts to achieve internal balance once again.
There are a variety of legal and illicit drugs that can cause withdrawal. Each one may have a different effect in the brain and, as a result, a different set of withdrawal symptoms. Chemically addictive drugs include:
This group includes prescription drugs like oxycodone and Percocet. They are incredibly addictive, and they are the drugs that are currently driving the opioid epidemic. Opioids bind to receptors in the brain that cause calming effects, euphoria, and pain relief. Opioid withdrawals aren’t usually fatal unless you have other medical disorders that could be affected by strain, like heart disease. However, symptoms are among the most intense. Opioid withdrawal often mimics flu symptoms, and they are sometimes described as the worst flu you’ll ever have. Medical detox is ideal to alleviate painful and unpleasant effects.
Cocaine is an expensive illicit drug that can cause powerful addiction. Because of its high price, users often find themselves feeling withdrawal at some point whether they want to or not. Symptoms include low concentration, fatigue, depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, and suicidal thoughts and actions. It’s not typical for someone to detox for cocaine addiction, but in some cases, it may be necessary, especially if co-occurring disorders or other drugs are involved. Even if medical treatment isn’t required, 24-hour medical monitoring is ideal due to the mental withdrawals and intense cravings that will be experienced.
Since crack is cheaper and more intense than cocaine, addiction is more common, and its withdrawal symptoms often involve more intense cravings. Symptoms are similar to cocaine but may also include anger or outbursts. Crack withdrawal is not typically fatal, but it can be in some cases. Medical detox is ideal, and there are some medications that are specifically approved for crack withdrawal symptoms.
Some central nervous system depressants like benzodiazepines come with potentially dangerous withdrawal. Symptoms include dizziness, depression, hypertension, paranoia, seizures, mania, and delirium tremens (DT). DT can be fatal, and the fatality risk is significantly increased without medical treatment. Medical detox is necessary to ensure safety in benzos.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, like benzodiazepines, that can cause potentially deadly symptoms. Alcohol withdrawal can cause tremors, anxiety, heart palpitations, hallucinations, and DT. Alcohol withdrawal is among the most common to be treated with medical detox.
If you are taking a chemically addictive drug, you might need medical detox for a safe and more comfortable detoxification. Many drug users use more than one drug at a time, which increases your chances of experiencing serious medical complications. You may also need medical detox if you have other medical disorders that might be exasperated by your withdrawal symptoms. Even drugs that don’t cause fatal symptoms may cause complicated existing medical illnesses like heart disease. After detox, clinicians will help you find the best treatment program for your specific needs, to continue your commitment to recovery and prevent relapse.
If you think you need medical detox or if you aren’t sure, call 844-899-5777 and speak to our addiction specialists at Delphi Health Group to learn more about your detox options. The safest way to remove your dependence on an addictive substance is through medical detox. Start your road to recovery safely, while minimizing painful symptoms.