Four Most Common Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal symptoms occur when someone who has used a psychoactive substance chronically, such as alcohol or heroin, then stops abruptly. Symptoms vary from drug to drug and person to person, but some symptoms manifest almost universally in substance abusers upon cessation of use.
People who gradually wean themselves off from substances may not experience many or any symptoms. Not everyone can do this themselves, however, and end up returning to regular use. Regardless, clinical supervision in a detox facility is highly recommended by most health care providers and addiction experts to prevent relapse and complications. In rare cases, withdrawal symptoms can be fatal.
In most cases that don’t involve a tapering schedule, withdrawal symptoms are similar to influenza (the flu) and are most common among those who abused alcohol or opiates/opioids. These may include nausea, vomiting, runny nose and diarrhea.
Feeling ill on a near-constant basis, and vomiting and diarrhea may exacerbate the problem by contributing to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Vomiting can lodge material in the lungs which can lead to pneumonia and without treatment, a severe infection.
Shaking and tremors often develop after withdrawal from alcohol or benzodiazepines. They usually occur in response to anxiety, so many other substances could invoke this symptom,
Also, disturbances in nerve cells can also cause shakiness. These changes occur due to the effect of central nervous system depressants on brain activity.
Over long-term use, the brain adapts to the decreased activity, and when a person stops using abruptly, the level of activity increases and often results in physical tremors.
Anxiety is a mental, physical, and emotional reaction to a present or anticipated event, situation, person, or thing. It typically occurs during alcohol, cocaine, benzodiazepine, or opiate/opioid withdrawal. Anxiety fosters added fear and worry, and can be very disabling, eventually developing into full-blown panic attacks if left untreated.
In many scenarios, anxiety is a perfectly reasonable reaction to stress or fear. Severe anxiety, however, invokes constant worry and irrational fear, which becomes a mental health disorder when it begins to interfere with normal human functioning.
Depression is also a typical reaction for humans when they run into obstacles, lose loved ones, or feel defeated, among other reasons. This mood should only last a couple of days, however, and becomes troubling when the condition begins to interrupt a person’s life for weeks or longer. Severe cases of depression can result in suicidal thoughts.
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If you or someone you love is abusing substances, please seek treatment as soon as possible. There are many resources available to help you or your loved one.
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~ Nathalee G. Serrels