Escaping Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms
If people become addicted to alcohol or drugs they will experience withdrawals should they try to stop. Such symptoms will begin to occur whenever the levels of this chemical fall in the blood stream. This means that alcoholics will often begin to experience the early stages of withdrawals before they get their first drink of the day.
The symptoms of withdrawals can be unpleasant and sometimes may even prove to be fatal. As well as the physical discomfort the individual will also usually have to deal with psychological irritation as too. Fear of such effects can discourage people from trying to escape their addiction. Such concerns can be alleviated with the knowledge that there is a lot that can be done to ensure safety and improve comfort during the withdrawal period. The benefits of breaking away from substance abuse greatly outweigh any unpleasantness due to these short-term symptoms.
Types of Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms of withdrawal that an individual experiences will very much depend on the substance they have become dependent on. The different types of withdrawal symptoms include:
* Alcohol withdrawal
* Benzodiazepine withdrawal
* Caffeine withdrawal
* Cannabis withdrawal
* Cocaine withdrawal
* Nicotine withdrawal
* Opiate withdrawal
The Cause of Withdrawals
The human body is a wonderful piece of machinery. It is able to put up with a lot of abuse by adapting. This is what happens when people become addicted to alcohol or drugs. The body adapts to dealing with these substances by developing a tolerance to them. It is able to accommodate theses toxins so well that people become physically dependent. This means that when levels of this substance fall too low in the blood stream the body reacts to the change of environment. This reaction is referred to as withdrawal symptoms.
As well as the physical withdrawal the individual is also likely to experience psychological discomfort as well. This is because they have become dependent on these substances in order to make it though the day. People can feel unable to cope without their chemical crutch and cravings to once again use may be strong. This can lead to a great deal of anxiety and feelings of depression.
Common Withdrawal Symptoms
The exact type of symptoms that an individual will experience depends on the substance they have been using. These will be physical or psychological in nature. The most common physical symptoms include:
* Body aches
* Tremors or shaking
* Nausea and vomiting
* Muscle pains
* Loss of appetite
* Heart palpitations
* Stomach upset
* Changes to pulse rate
* High blood pressure
* Changes to respiratory rate
The most common psychological symptoms that people will experience as a result of withdrawals will include:
* Audio or visual hallucinations
* Mood swings
* High anxiety
* Depression and suicidal thoughts
* Inability to concentrate
* A feeling of impending doom
* Depersonalization. This is where people feel that they are watching themselves as if they were an outsider looking in.
Delirium Tremens (DTs) are a particularly severe form of withdrawal symptom. It is mostly associated with chronic alcohol use but those who are coming off long-term abuse of benzodiazepines or barbiturates can also experience it. The DTs can be fatal so if the individual experiences them they need to be carefully monitored. Typical symptoms include:
* Confusion which tends to be severe
* Elevated blood pressure
* High states of anxiety
* Hallucinations which tend to involve moving animals or the feeling that insects are crawling on the skin.
* A high degree of agitation
The Reality and Dangers of Withdrawal Symptoms
Fear of withdrawal symptoms can turn people off getting help for their addiction. In realty though, such symptoms can usually be easily managed so that the individual only experiences minor discomfort. Only about half of those who give up alcohol will experience significant symptoms, and only about 5% of these will experience the DTs. Those who are at risk of developing severe symptoms can be medically managed so to minimize the discomfort during the process. This means that there is no reason why fear of withdrawals should prevent people for seeking help for their addiction. A life away from substance abuse is well worth any initial discomfort that the individual may experience.
Dependence on Prescription Medication and Withdrawals
If people are taking medications for a long period of time they are likely to develop a physical dependence. This means that these people will also suffer withdrawal symptoms should they stop the medicine abruptly. In order to avoid such discomfort the doctor will often taper the patient off the drug. This means that they will slowly reduce the dosage over time so that the body can adjust without going into withdrawals.