Alcohol and drug abuse are problems that have reached epidemic levels in our nation. Not everyone understands how people can become afflicted with addiction, but many do, including our experienced and highly-trained staff at The Treehouse. As addiction becomes more prominent, the person affected may experience withdrawal symptoms and require detoxification. Symptoms are not all-inclusive, but detox is a trying process.
For this reason, if you suspect you may be undergoing withdrawal or if you anticipate that you might, you should seek help right away. When symptoms progress, you may even want to seek treatment. The Treehouse is adept at providing a medication-assisted detox, under the directive of our Treehouse medical director, a physician certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine.
Withdrawal denotes a set of symptoms that occur when a person suddenly stops using a drug after chronic and intense use, as is characteristic of addiction. This can often lead to severe symptoms and may be prolonged. It is important to note that withdrawal does not happen with recovery from every substance but will occur with some, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines and opioids. On the other hand, detoxification (detox) is the process by which the body rids itself of the buildup of chemicals from addiction, while also moderating and reducing the symptoms of withdrawal.
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Foremost, medical detox addresses the physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal. Through the aid of various medications, if deemed necessary, and even nutritive support, our highly-trained staff will work with each patient and their individual needs, to ensure the best treatment. This allows a person’s body and brain to begin establishing a more healthy equilibrium.
In addition, our staff will compassionately address any emotional concerns that arise as well, as this process may at times be emotionally draining. Whether it be words of encouragement, a patient ear or providing a well-needed distraction, our staff will stand by you every step of the way, ensuring that your emotional, mental and physical needs are addressed with the best measure of holistic, individualized and integrated care.
Detox is usually the first step in recovery but often needs to be followed by treatment, such as medication (medication-assisted therapy, or MAT) or various behavioral therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy, all of which we offer at The Treehouse. Studies show that individuals who complete detox only and refrain from seeking further treatment have decreased rates of success and abstinence from drugs or alcohol. Your sobriety, health, and happiness are our top priorities. Learn more about withdrawal, detox and what we can do to help you successfully transition through these processes. The following drugs are examples of some of the more commonly abused drugs that may require detox and/or treatment, however, the scope of our care is not limited only to these. We’ve included signs of withdrawal for these drugs of abuse, so that you may better spot this serious situation should it arise, thus enabling you to promptly seek detox care and treatment.
Though alcohol withdrawal occurs mostly for adults, it may occur in children affected by alcohol addiction. As the U.S. National Library of Medicine explains, “the more you drink regularly, the more likely you are to develop alcohol withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking.” For some people, withdrawal symptoms may occur as soon as eight hours after the last drink; for others, it can occur up to several days later. Although symptoms may be worst within 24 to 72 hours, they can persist for weeks. Some possible symptoms are:
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Being jumpy or shaky
- Mood swings
- Losing the ability to think clearly
However, some persons affected by alcohol abuse may also experience more severe symptoms, such as:
- Clammy skin
- Pupil dilation
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Paleness of skin
- Increased heart rate
- Hand or other body tremors
In the worst-case scenario, a person in advanced stages of withdrawal may also undergo even more severe withdrawal symptoms—called delirium tremens—a stage that may even be life-threatening. Delirium tremens is characterized by:
- Becoming very confused
In order to check for signs of withdrawal, when you seek treatment, a professional may use tests. People with symptoms ranging from the moderate to the severe may require medical oversight to receive proper treatment. Treatment may include monitoring certain body functions, such as blood pressure, heart rate and chemicals present in the blood. It may also include receiving medication or other fluids intravenously and being sedated for the remainder of the detox process. The Treehouse offers you, or your family member, a comprehensive and compassionate medical detox from alcohol.
Those with less severe to very mild symptoms may not require a full medical detox. This type of treatment may incorporate a number of methods, such as sedative drugs to help with the withdrawal symptoms, blood test monitoring, testing and subsequent treatment for other conditions which may co-occur with alcohol addiction and individual or family counseling. During and after this time, Treehouse can offer comprehensive alcohol treatment encompassing a wide range of impactful treatment modalities.
Benzodiazepines (benzos) are some of the most widely prescribed depressant medications in the United States, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Research. They are taken for the calming and relaxing effects they produce—taken incorrect dosage, they can be effective for persons with anxiety, insomnia, seizures and at times, depression. But they can have extremely negative side effects as well, like tremors, confusion and long-term effects comprising gaps in memory or judgment, slurred speech and/or muscle weakness. Withdrawal from benzos can have staggering effects on the body, but according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these are rarely life-threatening. Withdrawal may include some of the same, milder effects as mentioned above, or it may result in something so severe as seizures.
Though withdrawal from benzos may not be an immediate threat, treatment should be taken seriously. Benzos may foster dependence, and persons who struggle with abuse may take larger and larger doses of them in order to produce the same effect. This could eventually result in an overdose. For this reason, treatment should be comprehensive—such as that which the Treehouse so expertly offers.
There is no single method that works for every person suffering from withdrawal but some combination of methods may prove effective. Medications and differing forms of behavioral therapy are available for those suffering from prescription drug abuse. Utilizing non-addictive antidepressants may aid in detox; while this idea may seem counterproductive, for some persons struggling with withdrawal, this method may present a safe alternative to stopping use completely and abruptly.
There are two types of opioids: prescription painkillers and illicitly manufactured ones, such as heroin. “Narcotic” may be used to refer to both. Though there are many forms of prescription opioids, some of the more common ones are:
- Hydrocodone also called Vicodin
- Hydromorphone, also called Dilaudid
- Meperidine also called Demerol
- Oxycodone also called Percocet or Oxycontin
Opioids may cause dependence and addiction once a person becomes tolerant to the effects of them. When someone stops taking opioids or reduces usage, he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms, from mild to severe. Mild symptoms could involve:
- Muscle aches
- Increased tearing up
- Inability to sleep
- Getting a runny nose
If symptoms persist, the person affected may also see them worsen, possibly resulting in:
- Pupil dilation
- Stomach cramps
In order to make it through the effects of withdrawal, a person will need not only treatment but a strong support system. The staff at Treehouse is standing by to offer you, or your family member, both of these critical elements.
Certain medications, such as Suboxone, may help to reverse or mimic in part the effects of opioids and aid in reducing the cravings and uncomfortable symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal. Used in a gradually decreasing dosage, this allows the person to not experience the extreme symptoms of withdrawal, while still weaning off the drug—this is just one of the many reasons why Suboxone is the drug of choice at Treehouse for withdrawal from strong opioids. Certain other medications, such as non-addictive antidepressants may also be used at this time. In all cases, a person in withdrawal from opioids should seek treatment.
Understanding The Benefit Of Medications Within Treatment
Though countless scientific studies support the benefits of medications within a treatment, many people may still be hesitant to understand or accept the role of medications within drug rehab. This is understandable—it can be confusing as to why a drug is used for an individual that is attempting to get over an addiction to another drug, and some may feel as if this is a weaker path in comparison to finding sobriety on their own.
This is not a weaker path—on the contrary, admitting that you have a problem and accepting help are signs of strength. Seeking withdrawal on your own may be very dangerous and increase your chances of complications and relapse. Addictive substances can actually change the way your brain functions—this is why withdrawal symptoms arise in the first place. Because of this, sometimes a person can greatly benefit from the introduction of certain medications that decrease the intensity of this chemical change on a person’s brain. The use of specific medications within treatment has been shown to increase treatment retention rates.
In certain cases, like we’ve mentioned, especially in those concerning alcohol or strong opioids, the use of medications can effectively render a person’s situation less dangerous and more comfortable, in a manner that allows their physical and mental states greater opportunity to find balance. The sooner this happens, the sooner a person is able to begin thinking of and progressing towards the next step of their treatment.
Fighting Withdrawal—Get Help Today
With so many people affected by substance abuse and addiction, withdrawal is inevitable for many. But it does not have to be a battle fought alone. Whether you are struggling with alcohol addiction, benzodiazepine abuse, opioid abuse or another drug of abuse, you can get the help you need. If you know someone who is affected by substance abuse or addiction and want to get help, contact us today to get started. We will listen to your needs and help to create and implement a treatment method that suits your specific situation.
- Center For Substance Abuse Research — Benzodiazepines
- National Council On Alcoholism And Drug Dependence — Understanding Addiction
- National Institute On Drug Abuse — Frequently Asked Questions: What Is Detoxification, Or “Detox”?
- U.S. National Library Of Medicine — Alcohol Withdrawal
- U.S. National Library Of Medicine — Opiate And Opioid Withdrawal