What Is Drug Withdrawal Detox?
Read on to learn about what drug withdrawal is, along with how it works and why it’s important to detox from drugs until medical supervision.
Table of Contents
Why Does Withdrawal Occur?
Withdrawal symptoms can occur when a person suddenly stops taking a drug or dramatically reduces their usage of it. Drug withdrawal occurs because the body has become used to the presence of the drug and is now not able to function properly without it.1
There are many different symptoms of withdrawal, and they differ from person to person depending on the type of drug that was taken, how frequently one used it, and individual genetics. Some of the most common symptoms will be detailed below.
Muscle Pain or Aches
One of the first stages for withdrawal manifests in muscle aches and pains. This is the body’s way of telling you that it needs drugs back in its system for it to function “normally.”
Addiction withdrawal also comes with feelings of fatigue. It will be hard to concentrate on anything or even get out of bed in the morning.
When you detox from drugs, you may also find yourself sweating more than usual. This is the body’s way of getting rid of toxins.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression is among the most common drug withdrawal symptoms because the body is no longer getting the dopamine it’s used to. This can lead to suicidal thoughts in severe cases. Other drug addiction withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, can be so severe that they mimic a panic attack.
Nausea and Vomiting
Withdrawing from drugs can elicit physical withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea. If nausea gets too severe, it may lead to vomiting. This is often seen in heroin withdrawal symptoms.
When you detox from drugs, it can cause confusion and disorientation. This is because drug use alters the brain’s chemistry.
Other withdrawal side effects include insomnia and other troubles with sleeping, like vivid dreams.
Severe withdrawal symptoms can also include seizures. This is especially common in alcohol withdrawal detox or substance abuse withdrawal from Xanax.
Dilated pupils are another common drug withdrawal symptom. This is caused by the drug no longer being present in the body to stimulate the nervous system.
What Determines Drug Withdrawal Symptoms?
There are many different factors that can impact drug withdrawal symptoms in the body. They include:
- Type of Drug: Drug withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the type of drug the body is used to receiving. For example, opiate withdrawal symptoms will be different from alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
- Length of Time of Abuse: Getting off prescription drugs can be more difficult the longer you’ve been taking them. This is because the body becomes more dependent on the drug over time.
- Method of Usage: Withdrawing from drugs can also be different depending on how you’ve been taking them. For example, withdrawal from smoking cocaine will be different from withdrawal from snorting cocaine.
- Dosage Size: The larger the dosage, the more difficult drug withdrawal can be. This is because the body becomes more dependent on the drug at higher doses.
- Family History: Withdrawal symptoms can also be influenced by family history. This is because some people are more prone to addiction than others.
- Other Medical or Mental Health Factors: Other factors, such as other medical or mental health conditions, can also influence drug withdrawal symptoms.
Can Withdrawal Be Lethal?
Drug detox symptoms can be uncomfortable, but they are rarely deadly. However, in some cases, drug withdrawal can be life-threatening, especially when it’s not done under medical supervision. This is usually only seen in cases of severe drug addiction. Alcohol withdrawal, for example, can be deadly if not done under medical supervision. This is because alcohol withdrawal can lead to delirium tremens, which is a potentially fatal condition. Benzodiazepine withdrawal can also be deadly if not done under medical supervision. Thus, medication for withdrawal is sometimes needed to ensure the health and safety of the patient going through withdrawal.
Types of Drug Withdrawal
There are different types of withdrawal depending on what drug the body is ridding itself of. It is important to know the types of drug withdrawal, as well as any relevant accompanying symptoms, in order to best identify drug addiction and administer effective treatment. The various types of drug withdrawal will be detailed below.
When a user chooses to withdraw from drugs like heroin, they will experience drug withdrawal symptoms, such as:2
- Anxiety and depression
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
Going through withdrawal from alcohol can cause mental and physical withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased heart rate
Someone suffering withdrawal symptoms from cocaine use may experience the following:
- Anxiety and depression
- Fatigue or insomnia
- Increased appetite
- Irritability and restlessness
Drug detox symptoms from marijuana may result in:
- Decreased appetite
Why Is Drug Detox Important for Withdrawal?
Drug detoxing is an integral step in the withdrawal process. It’s truly what starts the process itself and helps to rid the body of toxins. However, it’s not always a pleasant experience, and in order to mitigate symptoms, here are some things you can do:
Start with a Lower Dose
If you’re starting a new drug, it’s always best to start with a lower dose. This will help your body get used to the drug and reduce the chance of withdrawal.
Gradually Increase the Dose
If you’re increasing your dose of a drug, do so gradually. This will help your body get used to the new dose and reduce the chance of withdrawal.
Don’t Stop Abruptly
If you’re going to stop taking a drug, don’t do so abruptly. This can cause drug withdrawal symptoms. Instead, slowly taper off the drug over time.3
Get Help from a Medical Professional
If you’re worried about drug withdrawal, it’s always best to get help from a medical professional. They can help you taper off the drug safely and reduce the chance of withdrawal.
What Are the Types of Drug Addiction Treatment Programs?
There are many different programs available for drug addiction treatment. They include:
Outpatient treatment programs are typically less intense than inpatient treatment programs. They can be a good option for people who have a mild drug addiction and a strong support system at home.
Intensive outpatient treatment programs are typically more intense than outpatient treatment programs. Patients who have a moderate drug addiction and a strong support system at home are better fits for this type of program.
Partial hospitalization programs are typically more intense than outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment programs, and typically involve more medication and counseling.
Medically Managed Inpatient Drug Treatment
Medically managed inpatient drug treatment programs are the most intense type of drug addiction treatment program. They’re typically best for people who have a severe drug addiction and are suffering from the psychological effects of drug withdrawal. Some common drug withdrawal medications that may be prescribed to you include:
- Catapres (clonidine)
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
- Buprenex (buprenorphine)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Ativan (lorazepam)
Please Contact Alta Centers for any questions regarding treatment.