Frequent and excessive drug use can quickly turn into an addiction. Drug abuse can affect your physical and mental health, your well-being, finances, and relationships; put simply, drug addiction can have negative consequences on all areas of your life.
Drug withdrawal is never a pleasant experience – and of course, it can be dangerous. This is why it’s so important to know what to expect when withdrawing from drugs. Likewise, if a friend or family member is detoxing from drugs, it can be extremely helpful to have an understanding of the process.
Read on to learn more about drug addiction – and more specifically, drug withdrawal symptoms. On this page, we will be exploring what to expect from drug withdrawal (including physical, psychological and severe symptoms).
We’ll also be discussing the drug withdrawal timeline. More importantly, we’ll be providing you with information on how you can detox from drugs safely.
Drug addiction can be difficult to deal with, whether it be a psychological addiction, physical dependence, or both. Addiction is considered a chronic and relapsing brain disorder – drug addiction impacts the circuits in your brain that affect reward, self-control and stress.
Drug use is considered a disease – this is because drug abuse can have long-term effects on the functioning of many bodily organs.
The good news is that the effects of drug use can be both preventable and treated – but not receiving the right help for your addiction can cause long-lasting effects.
Drug dependence is the more severe form of a substance use disorder, with drug abuse being considered a more mild form. Drug dependence refers to the physical addiction to a drug.
The more you abuse drugs over time, the more your body develops a tolerance to them. For example, if you take cocaine frequently, you may feel the need to take more cocaine in order to feel the same effects.
In time, this can turn into drug dependence – you may feel as though you need to take drugs just to feel ‘normal’.
Drug abuse refers to both illicit drug use and prescription drug abuse. It’s not just street drugs such as heroin or meth that are addictive; prescription drugs can be just as addictive as illicit drugs.
Prescription drug abuse may involve taking more drugs than prescribed, taking prescribed medication more frequently than prescribed, mixing your prescription with alcohol or other drugs, sourcing prescription drugs illicitly (e.g through drug dealers), or crushing your prescribed tablets up to snort them.
Ultimately, prescription drug abuse refers to taking prescription medication in any way other than prescribed by a doctor.
If you think you have a drug addiction, or you feel as though drugs are taking over your life, it’s time to address the issue and seek the treatment you need.
Treatment begins with detoxification – and during a drug detox, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal. Read on to learn more.
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If you develop a physical dependence on a drug, you may experience drug-specific withdrawal symptoms.
Drug withdrawal occurs when you stop using drugs after developing a dependence, whether it be psychological or psychological. You may also experience symptoms when you drastically lower your dose or limit your intake.
Narcotics impact the chemical processes in your brain – this is the reason behind mood changes, physical reactions and hallucinations when taking certain drugs or even drinking alcohol.
Frequent drug use can lead to your body getting used to these changes – and you may develop a tolerance to the drug. Eventually, this can develop into a dependence – you feel as though you can’t function without abusing drugs.
During this stage, your body may reduce or cease the production of certain chemicals – for example, dopamine.
This can leave you feeling miserable and impact your general well-being. Withdrawal doesn’t just affect you physically; when detoxing from drugs, you may experience a range of physical and psychological symptoms.
Different people will experience different addiction withdrawal symptoms when they detox from drugs, with symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening. You may, for example, feel generally unwell, or experience flu-like symptoms.
Read on to explore the different types of symptoms you may experience with withdrawing from drugs – including physical symptoms, psychological symptoms, and severe symptoms.
Physical symptoms can vary in severity and in nature – however, some common drug withdrawal symptoms that affect you physically may include:
As well as feeling a range of physical symptoms of withdrawal, the withdrawal process can also impact you psychologically.
Some psychological symptoms of drug withdrawal may include:
Most people who are heavily dependent on a substance will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms – however, severe withdrawal symptoms are considered rare.
That being said, if you are planning to detox from drugs, it’s important that you understand what to expect from severe symptoms and drug withdrawal syndromes.
Severe withdrawal can be fatal – which is why we recommend that you seek professional detox and rehab addiction treatment as opposed to quitting ‘cold turkey’ at home without any support.
The severity of your symptoms can vary depending on the drug you are dependent on. For example, if you are withdrawing from benzodiazepines, there is a risk of experiencing seizures.
Some other severe symptoms may include paranoia, psychosis and hallucinations, along with other severe mental health crises.
The drug withdrawal timeline can vary from person to person, from drug to drug. The general rule of thumb, regardless of the drug, is the more severe the dependence, the longer the withdrawal process will take.
That being said, several factors can determine the length of time you will experience symptoms. For example, your genetic dispositions can impact the withdrawal process, as can your height and weight.
Your metabolism and how quickly it processes toxins, as well as the length of time you used drugs for can also impact the length of time it takes to detox from drugs; and how long you experience withdrawal symptoms.
Heroin or opioid withdrawal symptoms can begin up to 12 hours after you last took opioids and peak around the third day. However, it can take up to two weeks before some of the symptoms begin to ease.
Cannabis withdrawal, however, is considered much less severe; although you may experience fatigue or insomnia for as long as a month after stopping cannabis use. Realistically, you may wish to give yourself two weeks to recover from cannabis addiction.
Drug withdrawal can share similarities with alcohol withdrawal – however, they are different substances; so in short, no, drug withdrawal symptoms are not the same as alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
However, some shared symptoms experienced in both drug withdrawal and alcohol withdrawal include irritability, nausea, vomiting, shaking, sweats, and abdominal pain.
Just like you can experience severe drug withdrawal symptoms, it’s possible to experience severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Delirium Tremens is unique to alcohol withdrawal, – it is the most severe form of alcohol withdrawal, and has symptoms of its own.
Some signs of Delirium Tremens include seizures, stupor, and hallucinations. People with acute alcohol withdrawal, including Delirium Tremens, often require hospitalisation and medical treatment. It can be fatal if left unmanaged.
The good news is that severe alcohol withdrawal is not very common, even among those with severe alcohol addictions.
If you don’t receive the right support or treatment for your addiction, you increase the risk of relapsing, or not completing your drug detox. This is why effective withdrawal management is so important; especially when experiencing particularly severe withdrawal symptoms.
We never recommend quitting drugs cold turkey, whether it be heroin or ketamine. Quitting ‘cold turkey’ means that you stop using drugs suddenly, all at once without any medical attention. This can be dangerous and isn’t considered a safe way of detoxing from drugs.
However, it may be considered safe to detox from drugs cold turkey if you have a very mild addiction to a mild drug such as cannabis. Be sure to speak to an expert before withdrawing from drugs – we can help at Help4Addiction.
Read on to learn more about the different withdrawal options available, including medical detox and at-home detox.
A medically-assisted detox is one of the most popular ways of treating severe drug withdrawal. During a medically-assisted detox, you will be provided with prescription drugs and medications. For example, if you are withdrawing from opioids, you may be given methadone to manage the symptoms.
This must be handled by medical professionals – the doses of detox medications should be accurate to ensure that you are not at risk of developing another dependency.
Medical detox is considered a safe way of easing drug withdrawal symptoms, which can ultimately prevent the chance of relapse.
At Help4Addiction, we can source the right medically-assisted detox for you, with the right treatment provider. Scroll further down the page to learn more.
Not everybody wants to detox in a rehab facility – you may wish to detox from the comfort of your own home, or you may have commitments and responsibilities to take care of.
However, it’s important to note that when you detox from drugs at home, the level of temptation is increased. This is because you will remain in the same environment that you became addicted to drugs in, whereas at a residential rehab facility, all access to drugs will be removed.
At-home detoxification is typically reserved for those detoxing from alcohol – however, it’s possible to detox from drugs with a private at-home detox. If you can afford to pay a medical professional to oversee the process, it’s possible to detox at home safely.
At Help4Addiction, we understand the importance of an effective drug detox program. This is why we work to help people with addiction to find the right drug rehab for them.
We usually recommend a drug detox as part of a larger, more comprehensive addiction treatment program – including therapy and secondary treatment.
This is because detoxification only addresses the physical aspect of addiction; it does not help with the social, behavioural or psychological facets of addiction.
Therapy has numerous benefits as a form of addiction treatment; not only can the right therapy provide you with a better understanding of yourself and your addiction, but it can improve your confidence, mental health, and general well-being.
Talking therapies – for example, CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), which is very common in addiction therapy – can teach you effective coping strategies that can be used in your day-to-day life, whether it be to manage and prevent relapse or to deal with unpleasant emotions.
Leaving rehab and returning to your ‘normal life’ can be scary, which is why we recommend that you continue to receive treatment as an outpatient – in the form of secondary treatment.
Secondary treatment, also known as aftercare, can include support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, telephone and online support, group therapy or further counselling.
We can find the right place for you to safely detox from drugs, whether it be an at-home detox or a medically-supervised detox at a trusted rehab clinic. We can also provide you with expert support and advice and provide key information on how to treat drug withdrawal.
This includes the steps you can take at home but, more crucially, we can put you in touch with some of the top rehab facilities across the UK. Call us and we’ll make sure we find the right rehab centre in time to keep you off drugs.
Contact us today to discuss your treatment options. You don’t have to deal with drug addiction alone – our friendly team of addiction experts are here to help. Likewise, if you want to help your wifeor help your husband – or even help your friend, we can help.
Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.
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