When an individual with an addiction makes the difficult and courageous decision to seek help, in many cases they are not able to immediately enter into a rehab program. There is an essential first step: withdrawal.
The problem is that withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening, and people who attempt this stage without help are at higher risk of relapse. With proper medical supervision, withdrawal symptoms can be managed, and the addict can be kept safe.
Drug And Alcohol
Withdrawal symptoms can vary widely from person to person, depending on several factors, such as your age, your general state of physical and mental health, what the substance is and how long you have been using it, your average dose and frequency of doses, and whether you are withdrawing from more than one substance.
It is important to note that some substances have unique withdrawal challenges that need to be managed in very specific ways. For example, alcohol withdrawal can include delirium tremens, sometimes referred to as “the DTs”, characterized by confusion, an irregular heart rate, shaking and sweating. If the patient is not under the care of a doctor, delirium tremens can be life-threatening.
Withdrawal symptoms that occur commonly across many substances include the following:
- Alternating sensations of hot and cold; skin tingling; sweating and/or shivering
- Headaches; light-headedness or dizziness; fainting
- Difficulty sleeping; nightmares or vivid dreams
- Tightness in the chest; difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Fast or irregular heartbeat; palpitations; elevated blood pressure
- Muscle aches and pains; cramps; twitches or spasms
- Anxiety; panic attacks; depression
- Irritability; anger or violence directed at self or others
- Confusion; impaired speech; poor memory; inability to focus
What Happens During
All clients who arrive at our facility undergo an assessment, during which we determine whether medical detox is needed. Those who do need this step are placed under the care of a doctor, who ensures that withdrawal symptoms are carefully managed during the detox process. The duration and nature of the medical care is tailored to the individual based on their state of health, the substances they are withdrawing from, and other factors. In most case, detox lasts anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.
Can Addicts Detox
Many addicts do attempt to go through withdrawal without any help, and in some cases, they succeed. More often, though, they find that the withdrawal symptoms are so uncomfortable and frightening that they seek out their substance of choice just to make those symptoms go away.