When it comes to alcoholism and drug addiction, going cold turkey is not the right option for many. Supervised detox is usually safer and may be the best route for you or your loved one.
Treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction involves undergoing therapy to help you mentally and physically recover from the addiction. In order to get better, you must physically cleanse your body of the substance. To avoid a life-threatening reaction brought on by withdrawal from alcoholism or drug addiction, its best to seek professional help instead of trying to go it alone.
Ending Drug Addiction: Withdrawal and Detox
Withdrawal stopping alcohol or drug use can be extremely dangerous if done on your own, which is why a carefully administered plan for detoxification is the safest way to end your drug or alcohol addiction.
According to James Garbutt, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and research scientist at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, Everyone is going to have to go through detoxification to withdraw from a substance. The question is, when is it medically dangerous and when does it require medical oversight?
Withdrawal from many drugs can bring symptoms such as agitation, sweating, an inability to sleep, and high blood pressure. Opiate and narcotic withdrawal symptoms can be among the most difficult. Opiates and narcotics are classes of drugs that include heroin, codeine, Demerol (meperidine), and Oxycontin (oxycodone), which are taken to achieve a sense of euphoria in those who abuse them.
Other substances that tend to cause more severe withdrawal symptoms, and potentially life-threatening symptoms, are barbiturates, alcohol, and benzodiazepines, according to Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction psychiatry specialist in New York City. Withdrawal from these substances should be handled in a hospital.
Drug Addiction: Symptoms of Withdrawal
Symptoms of withdrawal depend on the object of the addiction. The following symptoms may result:
- For alcohol: sweating, anxiety, tremors, fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rate, seizures, delirium tremens (the DTs a state of extreme agitation, hallucinations, hyperactivity, tremors, and confusion), psychosis and, adds Dr. Gilman, ultimately death if not treated by a professional.
- For opiates/narcotics: anxiety, insomnia, dilated pupils, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting.
- For stimulants, such as cocaine: excessive tiredness and depression.
- For barbiturates (such as Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal): nausea, fast breathing, increased heart rate, tremors, muscle pain, insomnia, hallucinations, convulsions, and delirium. If withdrawal is not monitored, the consequence could be death.
- For benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Librium, Valium): delirium, muscle twitches, hallucinations, sensitivity to light, sound, taste, and smell, ringing in the ears, tingling, numbness, and insomnia.
Ending Drug Addiction With Medication
Another reason detox in a controlled setting is important: Medical professionals can administer medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. Ironically, sometimes these are the same drugs that are being abused.
- Drug Abuse and Addiction At A Glance (addictionts.com)
- When Substance Abuse Leads to Anxiety (addictionts.com)