Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on which kind of addictive substance you’re detoxing from, but overall, most people agree that it feels awful, both physically and emotionally. Many people, especially those who used heavily for a long period of time, report feeling like they want to die. For some types of substances, withdrawal can be deadly.
What are the Dangers of Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal?
Always consult your doctor or a medical professional before trying to detox from alcohol or benzodiazepines on your own. The physical withdrawal from these two substances can cause seizures and may be deadly.
Detoxing from other substances, from cocaine to heroin, methamphetamine, or other substances, can have severe physical effects, ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to vomiting, headaches, nausea, dehydration, and disorientation. Severe withdrawal may cause hallucinations. Emotionally, people have heightened anxiety or could have panic attacks. Those who used drugs or alcohol to self-medicate depression or anxiety symptoms may see their condition worsen.
A medically supervised detox program helps ease the physical and emotional ravages of early withdrawal.
Two Types of Withdrawal: Acute and Protracted
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA) characterizes withdrawal into two stages, acute and protracted.
Acute withdrawal is the early stages of detox, including symptoms that arise from suddenly ceasing drug use. Generally, acute withdrawal symptoms tend to be the opposite of the effect of the substance the person was using.
Protracted withdrawal can last from a few days to a few weeks, especially if you’re tapering down a dosage, such as Benzodiazepines or methadone. Any symptoms lasting beyond the acute withdrawal phase are classified as protracted withdrawal symptoms, and while they may be milder than acute symptoms, they may persist for months after you get clean.
The Effects of Withdrawal Symptoms on Your Life
Common withdrawal symptoms for all substances include:
- Trouble sleeping and nightmares
- Problems with appetite, nausea, and vomiting
- Body aches and flu-like symptoms
- Problems concentrating or remembering things
The physical withdrawal symptoms can leave people feeling too sick to work, go to school, or take care of their household and family responsibilities. You may have to take some time off work to recover and recuperate. If you have prolonged withdrawal, it could impact your life for several weeks – although not as much as continuing to abuse drugs or alcohol would.
Emotional withdrawal can be just as taxing as physical withdrawal. Many people use drugs or alcohol to cope with trauma in their life or to dull the symptoms of anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Without the drugs and alcohol, the emotions that come with those conditions are acute and can be overwhelming.
In addition, withdrawal from many substances can cause anxiety or depression even for people who don’t have underlying mental health concerns. Medical can help with both the physical and emotional pain of early withdrawal and can help people through prolonged withdrawal, especially those diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or another mental illness.
Mitigating the Dangers of Withdrawal
Are you concerned about your use of drugs or alcohol? Are you worried about what will happen if you go through withdrawals on your path to sobriety? We can help. At Hickory Treatment Centers, we offer medical detox and residential treatment that can help you safely withdraw from drugs or alcohol. Contact us today for a confidential assessment of your needs.