The risks to both physical and mental health associated with substance abuse extend beyond the period of active use. Even after quitting, individuals may experience distressing symptoms and health hazards. This collection of side effects that arise following a significant reduction or discontinuation of substance use is commonly known as withdrawal.
It’s important to note that the potential discomfort of withdrawal should not discourage individuals from seeking help for addiction. The risks associated with continuing to live with active addiction are likely to outweigh the challenges. However, to ensure safety during the detoxification process, it is crucial to find the appropriate level of support.
Our center for addiction counseling in The Woodlands, Tx offers withdrawal management for people suffering from mild to severe symptoms that come as a result of substance abuse.
The management of symptoms and complications that arise from quitting excessive substance use is commonly known as withdrawal management (WM). Withdrawal management involves providing comprehensive treatment and care as an individual overcomes physical and psychological dependence on one or more drugs.
When a person discontinues or reduces their drug intake, specific substances are associated with a set of symptoms known as the “withdrawal syndrome” or “discontinuation syndrome.” The duration, including the peak and subsiding of symptoms, can be predicted with relative accuracy.
While the severity of the withdrawal syndrome varies, some cases may result in minor symptoms, whereas others can be life-threatening. For instance, marijuana withdrawal is unlikely to pose significant health risks. Around 5% of individuals undergoing alcohol or sedative withdrawal may experience a severe condition known as delirium tremens (DTs).
This is considered the most severe form of withdrawal symptoms due to alcoholism characterized by restlessness, tremors, confusion, persistent hallucinations, and significant increases in heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. DTs typically manifest 2 to 5 days after the individual’s last alcoholic beverage, and it can be fatal if left untreated.
Treatment for addiction doesn’t end with withdrawal management. Detox alone doesn’t lead to long-term abstinence from drugs and alcohol. This is why a treatment program that includes counseling is so important. Our facility assists people in their recovery by:
There is more to addiction treatment than detoxification. Withdrawal management includes helping the patient feel ready to continue treatment.
According to the SAMHSA, the three basic phases of detox, or withdrawal management, are as follows:
Detoxification, which is the process of eliminating toxins from the bloodstream, is the first step in drug and alcohol recovery programs. The occurrence of withdrawal symptoms, when drugs are withdrawn from the body, is one of the signs of addiction. Depending on the type of substance, style of misuse, and level of reliance, these adverse effects can range from minor to severe, even life-threatening.
Withdrawal symptoms can be physical as well as psychological, and they are frequently accompanied by drug cravings. Stopping substance consumption abruptly, or “cold turkey,” is not always advised, and medically assisted detox may be the best option.
Symptoms and their severity greatly depend on the drug. Professional medical detox is advised for substances with proven medical dangers. Some drug addictions are more prone than others to necessitate medication-assisted treatment. When multiple substances are involved, withdrawal management is more complicated. The most dangerous withdrawal symptoms result from the cessation of the following drugs:
MAT is completed in a controlled professional setting overseen by medical staff. Some substances need careful and regulated weaning, or tapering regimen, to gradually lower the amount in the system to zero.
Others may need to use drugs during detox to control withdrawal symptoms and cravings such as methadone, buprenorphine, suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone), and naltrexone.
Medically assisted detox can help you or a loved one achieve a healthy physical balance, but it should be followed by psychotherapy and counseling sessions to address the emotional components of addiction and the underlying reasons.
Withdrawal symptoms from sedatives such as benzodiazepines and sleep medicines such as Ambien are strikingly similar to those of alcohol withdrawal. Short-acting sedative withdrawal symptoms (Oxazepam, alprazolam, and temazepam) typically begin 1-2 days after the last dose and can last for 4 weeks, whereas long-acting withdrawal symptoms (Diazepam and nitrazepam) begin 2-7 days after the last dose and can last for about 8 weeks. Symptoms of benzo withdrawal in benzo detox include:
Opioids are both prescription narcotics such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, fentanyl, morphine, and codeine as well as the street drug heroin. The type of opioid and the amount taken, along with other risk factors, will dictate the estimated duration of withdrawal symptoms and the severity.
Quitting a short-acting opioid such as heroin can cause a rapid start of withdrawal symptoms that appear within hours after the last use and resolve by day 10. Withdrawal symptoms linked with longer-acting opioids, such as methadone, may appear two days after the last use and may continue up to 20 days. If symptoms persist longer, please seek a medical professional and avoid self-detoxing.
At our heroin detox center, opioid addiction must first be managed with medically-assisted detox to control the difficult emotional and physical side effects of withdrawal. Symptoms due to opioid abuse are as follows:
Opioid withdrawal is not considered life-threatening in the same way that alcohol and sedative withdrawal are; nonetheless, vomiting and diarrhea can cause major medical consequences such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Individuals with pre-existing cardiac issues may potentially experience medical difficulties during withdrawal as a result of withdrawal symptoms such as elevated blood pressure and heart rate.
Prescription drugs cause withdrawal symptoms severe enough to merit medical detoxification due to the symptoms it causes, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Stimulants are a broad category of substances that include methamphetamine, cocaine, and treatments for Attention-deficit disorder (ADD) and Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Stimulants affect the chemistry of the brain and can lead to serious addiction when taken in high quantities or for an extended length of time.
Following the cessation of stimulant use, the brain undergoes a lengthy readjustment phase characterized by physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, the severity of which is dependent on the dosage and duration of usage.
The psychological symptoms of stimulant withdrawal can be very severe, often leading to relapse, aggressive conduct, or suicidal thoughts. The sorts of symptoms seen during stimulant withdrawal differ from person to person and are highly influenced by the individual’s history of use.
Other withdrawal symptoms cause far more serious physical health problems, but stimulant withdrawal has the potential to cause serious mental health problems. In certain situations, stimulant withdrawal can result in the following:
Symptoms usually appear within hours of the previous usage but might take up to a day. The majority of withdrawal symptoms peak roughly a week after stopping usage. Post-acute withdrawal effects include mood swings, insomnia, sadness, and tiredness can linger for weeks or months.
Following acute treatment, our highly-trained staff employs measures to ensure that the client continues to participate in a proactive treatment program and receives the support they need while in recovery and after.
To do so, we provide regular assessments of how well the treatment is working and make necessary adjustments, coordinate with other treatment providers, assist the patient in transitioning to other forms of care when appropriate, and ensure privacy and confidentiality throughout.
If you or a loved one needs help to stop using drugs and alcohol, contact our drug and alcohol detox center in Houston, TX to start the journey to recovery.
Dr. Olaniyi O. Osuntokun is a Neurology & Psychiatry Specialist based in Conroe, Texas, and Lafayette, Indiana. He has extensive experience in treating Individuals with substance use disorders and addiction. He earned his medical degree from University of Ibadan College of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.