Drugs and alcohol change the chemical makeup of the brain, and regular use of mind-altering substances can cause dependence to form. Brain circuitry and chemistry will attempt to regulate as drugs and/or alcohol process out of the body after dependence has formed, and this causes withdrawal symptoms. The duration, intensity, and type of withdrawal symptoms will differ based on which drug was used, the method of abuse, the level of dependency, and if there are any co-occurring disorders present.
Some substances, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids, should never be stopped “cold turkey,” or suddenly, as withdrawal symptoms can be significant and even life-threatening. Therefore, withdrawal should be managed with the aid of a highly trained professional, Psychology Today publishes.
Side effects of drug withdrawal may include insomnia, depression, irritability, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nightmares, muscle aches, back and joint pain, tremors, restlessness, cravings, depression, anxiety, agitation, seizures, irregular heart rate, high or low blood pressure, respiratory distress, sweating, fever, cold and clammy skin, dilated pupils, tingling in the extremities, mental confusion, short-term memory issues, trouble concentrating, paranoia, delirium, hallucinations, excitability, watery eyes, bouts of crying, runny nose, shakiness, suicidal thoughts, pain sensitivity, disorientation, muscle weakness, and appetite fluctuations.
There are various methods of managing withdrawal. Here are 10 ways to get through your withdrawal symptoms with a minimal amount of discomfort:
It may be helpful to take supplements to replenish vitamins depleted during active addiction. Studies published in Today’s Dietician indicate that around half of the people researched who were battling addiction were deficient in either iron or vitamins A, C, D, or E. Not only can healthy eating help to heal the brain and body and counteract malnutrition, it can also serve to reduce cravings and enhance self-image and self-care. Moods are also tied to nutrition, and a body that is well nourished will help the mind to feel less anxious, frustrated, irritable, and depressed.
Mindfulness meditation provides introspection and self-reflection, and it can help a person to strengthen the connection between the spirit, mind, and body. Mindfulness meditation is a considered alternative medicine, and studies published by Harvard Health Publications show that it can be an effective method for lowering anxiety, physical pain, and depression – all of which can be side effects of withdrawal.
Detox is typically a first step toward recovery, and by managing it well, individuals can build a strong foundation for recovery. After detox, an individual should enter into an addiction treatment program in order to build upon these healthy habits. The real work of recovery takes place in therapy following withdrawal, but it’s important to be supported during withdrawal to ensure it is completed successfully.