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Withdrawal From Drugs- Indications, Timeline, And Treatment

Addiction to anything can be a terrible thing. It can leave you impaired for the rest of your life, and in some lethal cases, it may cost you your life itself. Any kind of addiction is harmful because it brings along with it myriad issues of withdrawal. The first and foremost problem that you’ll face when you’re addicted to anything is the obsessive desire to obtain that thing, be it drug, alcohol, or addiction to even prescribed medication. Once you have got yourself addicted to anything, there will be endless dependency on that particular thing. It may seem like your life revolves around the thing you’re addicted to.

Various factors contribute to indications of withdrawal from a drug and the time required to sooth the withdrawal symptoms. The main factors determining this are the drug which you had been abusing, and the span of time for which you had been addicted to the drug. Various drugs come with varying symptoms of withdrawal and the time for which the symptoms last also vary. Some of them are as follows:

  • Alcohol: Prolonged addiction to alcohol is extremely fatal. Thus, when you quit taking alcohol, symptoms like tremors are likely to occur, which usually last from three days to a few weeks.
  • Benzodiazepines: If you are addicted to Benzodiazepines and are trying to give up, then you may have to face withdrawal symptoms like anxiety or seizures, which may last for a few weeks. And, if you had been addicted to it for a long span of time, the symptoms will last for a month.
  • Cocaine: This is a highly addictive drug. Withdrawal symptoms from cocaine include restlessness and depression. These symptoms stay for seven days to ten days.
  • Heroin and other painkillers: These show indications of withdrawal which are quite similar to what you face when you are suffering from flu. These symptoms do not last long and take around 24-48 hours to gradually diminish.

When you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, your brain undergoes various changes without your realization. These addictive substances alter the method in which the brain usually manages emotions and synchronizes your mood. This, in turn, produces a false feeling of exultation, commonly known as a “high”. Craving for any particular drug or alcohol, and the subsequent dependence on it, results when you continuously abuse the drug, or if you are a heavy alcohol addict. Withdrawal symptoms will occur once you reduce taking the drug to which you were once heavily addicted, that is, once your body has grown dependent on it. The interplay of different drugs with the body and the brain will differ from substance to substance. All the drugs do not remain in your body for the same amount of time. This also varies from one substance to another. The time for which a particular drug or any addictive substance stays in your body is referred to as that substance’s “half-life”. How much you are dependent on the drug will depend on how severely you were addicted to it. It will also be determined by some other factors like:

  • Particular drug you were addicted to
  • The span of time for which you were addicted to the substance
  • The amount of drug consumed each time
  • The way you abused the drug, like, swallowing, injecting, smoking, or snorting
  • Factors related to mental health
  • Genetic order and family history

For example, you are bound to experience extensive and painful indications of withdrawal if you had been addicted to heroin for years, and also you come from a family which has prior addiction history.

A Few Famous Drugs And Their Timeline For Withdrawal:

  • Cocaine: After you have taken your last dose of cocaine, the process of withdrawal will commence within eight to twelve hours. It will reach a maximum point in a matter of days. The longevity of the whole thing will be for about ten weeks.
  • Heroin: Heroin stays in the system for about twelve hours after the cessation of the drug. It can last for a short period of a week to a longer time span of months, depending on the amount of heroin consumed.
  • Benzodiazepines like Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Valium: Though extensive abuse of these may lead you experience prolonged withdrawal symptoms which may last for months or even for years. However, usually, indications of withdrawal commences within one to four days of the last dose. These symptoms are at their heights in the first two weeks.
  • Alcohol: With a shorter half-life, alcohol does not stay in the body for long. Withdrawal symptoms are most likely to occur within eight hours of the last drink. The symptoms of withdrawal reach a peak point within twenty four to seventy two hours. They usually last for a few weeks.
  • Prescribed opiates like OxyContin, Vicodin, Morphine, Methadone: Most opiates prescribed by doctors start to show symptoms of withdrawal within one to four days. They last for five to ten days, usually.

Opiates And Heroin

The primary reason for addiction to opiates is because it is known to increase titillating feelings and it also mitigates pain. Heroin and other prescribed medicines like Vicodin, Morphine, codeine, Percocet, OxyContin fall into this category of opioid drugs. Physical aftermaths which occur when you suffer from flu are identical to the physical symptoms of withdrawal from opiates. Withdrawing from opiates may make you experience both early and late psychological symptoms. If you are going through the early phase of opioid withdrawal, then you will experience indications like muscle pain, yawning, anxiety, sleeplessness, agitation, sweating, and runny nose. However, later phase of withdrawal comes with different withdrawal symptoms like abdominal cramps, nausea, Goosebumps, dilated pupils, and diarrhea.

alcohol abuse

Heroin is advantageous over other opioid drugs as it has the shortest half-life. It influences the body as rapidly as it leaves the system. With the expiration of the drug’s half-life and with the complete ejaculation of the drug from the stream of blood, indications of withdrawal will start surfacing. Though it is not life threatening, withdrawing from opiates can be pretty cumbersome. Thus, medical aid is a must while going through the withdrawal symptoms.

Benzodiazepines

A genre of drugs usually prescribed by doctors to treat issues like panic disorders, anxiety, and seizures, Benzodiazepines or “Benzos” are also helpful in curing sleeplessness or severe muscle cramps. These medications tranquilize the central nervous system, and mitigate the level of stress by triggering off gamma amino butyric acid. A relapse is bound to occur after your body has formed a dependence on the drug and when you suddenly quit the consumption of the drug.

The indications of withdrawal from Benzodiazepine are:

  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Amnesia
  • Irritability
  • Tension
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Heart palpitation
  • Irregularity in heart rate
  • Hypertension

Other grave symptoms of withdrawal from Benzodiazepines are extreme confusion, fever, hallucination, delirium. Often withdrawing from Benzodiazepine can cost you your life as grand mal seizure is one of the rare symptoms which lead to a coma and then eventual death. Extensive psychological indications of withdrawal are likely to stay for months. They can be taken care of by resorting to various therapies. Some Benzodiazepines whose effects do not last long are Serax and Halcion. Some Benzodiazepines, however, influence the body for quite a long time, and they are Librium and Klonopin. Moderate Benzodiazpines are Xanax and Ativan.

Cocaine

A drug which has a very short influence over the body is cocaine. It influences the body very fast, and in the very same manner, it leaves the stream of blood too. Addiction to cocaine leads to increase in the blood pressure and elevated heart rates. As cocaine provides you with the advantages of increased feelings of exultation, increases the level of energy, people get addicted to this drug very easily. And this leads to extensive abuse of the drug.

Withdrawing from cocaine occurs in three phases:

  • Crash period: This is known to last from nine hours to a span of four days. If you are under this phase of withdrawal then you may end up sleeping for long hours. Depression is bound to engulf you, and you are also likely to feel hungry, more than usual.
  • Acute withdrawal: During this phase you may go through feelings like sleeplessness, tiredness, anxiety, irritability. Cravings for the drug are likely to be enhanced during this phase.
  • Extinction period: Severe suicidal tendencies are likely to surface during this phase. You will go through severe craving for cocaine during this phase.

All these symptoms can be recovered from by an extensive medical treatment which will include medical detoxification and supplementary therapies. Withdrawing from cocaine is not life threatening.

Alcohol

This is one of those highly addictive substances on which people are starting to depend more and more for various purposes. Anything which gets a party going is alcohol. Anything which may instantly lighten your mood is alcohol. Withdrawal from alcohol can have myriad indications. They include a bland hangover, coma, or in worst circumstances, it can even lead to death. The more you are addicted to drinking the longer will the withdrawal process will take.  The detoxification process will take longer if you had been addicted to alcohol for a very long span of time.

Symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol are:

  • Headache
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Irritability
  • Problems in concentration
  • Shakiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nightmares
  • Mood swings
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of color in the face
  • Sweating
  • Tremor
  • Depression
  • Shallow breathing
  • Dehydration

Though withdrawing from alcohol may seem like a tough job in the first week, especially for those who had been heavy drinker, the uneasiness will be eased away as you gradually lower your intake of alcohol and finally quit. However, it is quite possible that you may have a craving for alcohol even months after the withdrawal symptoms have disappeared. Thus, detoxing from alcohol is the best when you are under the surveillance of a medical professional as potential seizures are likely to occur in the later withdrawal phases.

Utility Of A Detox

Detoxification is of utmost importance if you are looking forward to quit your addictive habits and lead a safe and secure life. There are treatment centers that will help you throughout your withdrawal phase and during the detoxification process. Medical detox is always preferred to abruptly quitting. Your personal safety will be ensured during the medical detox as your blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory levels will be under constant and strict invigilation. When you are under a medical detox program, it will be easier for you to flush out alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and benzodiazepine from your system. This will be very safe and it also does not entail adversities.

Medications To Be Used While Detoxing

There are various medicines which will help you a lot to fight against your withdrawal symptoms and help you get over your addiction as fast as possible. Addiction to opioid can be treated with the help of Buprenorphine and Methdone as they reduce the opioid content in the system gradually. In this way, the body does not fail to restore the lost balance as small amount of opioids are left in the system. These drugs have a longer lasting effect and they stay in the system for a longer period of time.

Medications which regulate the mood and anti-depressants are also very helpful during the detoxification process as depression and anxiety are the main withdrawal symptoms of any addictive substance. Naloxne is also useful as it allows speedy recovery. Benzodiazepines are helpful in treating addiction to alcohol and the myriad withdrawal symptoms associated with it. They ease the withdrawal process. Extensive care is provided in the medical detoxification process and makes the withdrawal phase easy to deal with.

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