New Jersey and Massachusetts medical detox centers warn about the risks of unsupervised withdrawal from drugs or alcohol, which can be extremely dangerous.
Using drugs or drinking alcohol causes brain functioning to change. In an alcoholic or addict, the change causes a flood of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, which is what creates a feeling of pleasure, or a high. Over time, an addict seeks to recreate that high which can lead to dependence or addiction. Once a person has reached that point, if the drug or alcohol use is stopped, symptoms of withdrawal will begin, reports Serenity at Summit, which has medical detox centers in New Jersey and Massachusetts.
The symptoms of withdrawal depend on the type of drug being used and the length of the withdrawal period depends on how the substance interacts with the brain – these can vary widely person to person. The severity of withdrawal symptoms also depends on other factors that include:
- What type of substance was being used
- How that substance was administered (smoked, ingested, injected, snorted)
- How much of the drug was used each time
- Length of time the drug was used
- Family history of addiction and genetics
- Medical and mental health conditions
Withdrawal symptoms from drugs or alcohol can include both emotional and physical pain. The fear of withdrawal is one reason that addicts will continue to use; it seems too painful to stop. However, making it through the withdrawal period is something that can be, and often should be, managed medically, with supervision from medical professionals.
Withdrawal Symptoms for Common Drugs
With one in every 12 adults struggling with an alcohol abuse or addiction problem, alcohol is the most commonly abused substance. Withdrawal from alcohol can have a wide range of symptoms, from just feeling hungover to coma and even death. The longer period a person has been actively drinking, and the larger the amount, the more serious the withdrawal symptoms may become during detox.
Symptoms of Alcohol Withdrawal
- Anxiety or depression
- Insomnia, nightmares, and headache
- Nausea and vomiting/loss of appetite
- Irritability or mood swings
- Trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
- Muscle aches
- Dizziness, shakiness, or tremors
- Elevated heart rate
- Shallow breathing
- Clammy skin
Benzodiazepines, commonly called “benzos”, are drugs that are prescribed for anxiety, panic disorders and seizures. When they are not taken as prescribed, it is considered abuse. Benzos are highly addictive and include brand names like Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and Zolpidem.
Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
- Tension and headache
- Difficulty concentrating and short-term memory loss
- Anxiety, irritability, and panic attacks
- Disturbed sleep
- Heart palpitations or irregular heart rate
- Muscle pain and stiffness
Opiates include heroin and prescription pain medication like Morphine, Oxycodone, Codeine, Methadone, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, and Percocet. Opiates provide users with a euphoric feeling while numbing pain, and are considered highly addictive. Heroin is the fastest acting and has the shortest half-life, which means its effects and the time it takes to leave the body are the shortest. Withdrawal from opiates is often painful and flu-like, but severe in nature.
Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal
- Intense cravings
- Nausea, vomiting, constipation
- Drowsiness, tiredness
- Decreased libido
- Respiratory depression
- Loss of consciousness, coma
- Confusion, clouding of mental function
- Cold, clammy skin
- Reduced vision
Cocaine and Methamphetamines
Cocaine and methamphetamines (meth, for short) are stimulants that have a very short half-life. These drugs increase the heart rate and elevate blood pressure. Users of cocaine and meth experience a euphoric feeling, increased energy and aggression, but it is short-lived causing addicts to binge on the drugs. Withdrawal from cocaine and meth usually occurs in three phases: crash, acute withdrawal and extinction. During the crash phase, a person may sleep for days, have an increased appetite and be irritable. The acute withdrawal phase can last for up to 3 weeks and can include fatigue, irritability, anxiety and depression. The last phase, extinction, can go on for months and may include depression, cravings for the drug, and even suicidal thoughts or ideations.
Withdrawal Symptoms of Cocaine and Methamphetamines
- Damage to central nervous system
- Anxiety, paranoia
- Skin irritability
- Respiratory failure
- Heart attacks, heart failure
- Respiratory problems, failure
Although withdrawal from marijuana is not medically dangerous, there are symptoms that are unpleasant enough that nearly one-third of addicts go back to using the drug to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal Symptoms of Marijuana
- Mood swings
- Anxiety, paranoia
- Increased appetite
Using Medically Supervised Detox
If you are ready to make the change to get clean and sober, it is important to consider going to a medically supervised detox. Detoxification is the process of removing the drug from your system and as you can see above, the withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable – some can even be frightening. You can detox on your own, many have, but there are physical, emotional, and medical reasons why going to a treatment facility that offers medical detox may be a better option for you.
When you go to a medically supervised detox facility, you will most likely be treated with medication to relieve some of the physical discomfort. The medical staff will closely monitor your progress during your stay, and you will be made as comfortable as possible.
When you are detoxing from drugs or alcohol, you will be going through psychological and emotional changes as well. Having support 24 hours a day until the drugs leave your system can be a great emotional help.
Some withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous to manage on your own. Alcohol withdrawal, especially, can be life-threatening when alcohol intake is stopped “cold turkey.” Seizures, heart rate fluctuations, and dizziness need to be monitored to prevent serious medical issues from happening.
Where Can You Go for Help?
Most residential, or inpatient, drug rehab facilities offer a medically supervised detox. At Summit Behavioral Health, you are able to go through the detoxification process with the help of our compassionate and knowledgeable medical staff. You do not have to fear the discomfort of withdrawal anymore. Please contact Serenity at Summit today to get started on your recovery.