There are a lot of misconceptions out there about addiction–especially from the addict’s perspective. Early in the quitting process, most addicts believe that they have the power to quit; they have the power over themselves–body and mind–to deal with withdrawal and stay sober, all on their own. The problem is that people don’t always realize how difficult or serious overcoming a drug addiction can be. Beating addiction alone is not always attainable or safe. In some cases, professional help is necessary to prevent dangers of withdrawal symptoms, while in other cases, treatment is simply recommended because it may improve the odds of success with drug rehab treatment or at least make the process easier and more comfortable. The following are reasons why it’s best not to try to beat addiction alone but instead to rely on the support of a professional drug rehab treatment center and/or medical detox program.
Drug Withdrawal Symptoms and Dangers
The withdrawal process is the main reason people should generally not aim to overcome addiction without the help of professionals. The withdrawal process can be uncomfortable and result in many people going back to the substance to make the symptoms stop. In other words, the process can get in the way of successful recovery. Further, in some cases, withdrawal can actually be dangerous and even fatal. That’s why it’s smart, and sometimes essential, to gain professional support in going through the withdrawal process.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
There is an acute withdrawal period directly after the person stops using the substance, and then there is also an ongoing withdrawal called post-acute withdrawal syndrome that can make ongoing recovery difficult. Acute withdrawal happens because the body becomes accustomed to functioning with the drug or alcohol in its system. It has adapted to it, and the substance has been affecting the brain’s normal operation. When the substance is removed from the body, it now has to adapt to functioning without the substance there. When the removal is sudden, the body can have a harder time adapting. Withdrawal symptoms are more likely, and can be more severe, with long-term use and/or higher amounts of a substance. The type of substance and the individual can also affect drug withdrawal symptoms. In other words, different people can have differing withdrawal experiences, even with the same drug.
Drug Withdrawal Can Be Uncomfortable
Withdrawal from drugs or alcohol can cause many symptoms that are very difficult to handle. The person quitting the substance could experience sweating, shaking and irritability. They could have headaches, nausea and other difficult physical symptoms along with tough mental symptoms such as depression or anxiety, hallucinations, and even seizures. The type of uncomfortable symptom will vary by the type of substance used.
Drug Withdrawal Can Be Fatal
Sometimes the symptoms that occur because of substance withdrawal are very serious. They can even lead to death. Some of the more serious symptoms that can be experienced include seizures, tremors, convulsions, respiratory failure, strokes and heart attacks. It’s also possible for the withdrawal process tobe fatal. Can heroin withdrawal kill you? While many people think heroin would have some of the worst withdrawal symptoms, quitting this substance is not likely to be fatal. Quitting opioids like heroin can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as muscle aches and other pain, cravings, fever, tremors and digestive troubles. Is alcohol withdrawal fatal? It may surprise people to know that even though alcohol is legal and not always seen as a big deal, withdrawal from it can indeed be fatal. Stopping alcohol, especially too suddenly, can lead to serious symptoms that include stroke, seizures and heart attack. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines, a class of prescription medications, can be equally fatal, if not approached while under medical supervision. While withdrawal from other substances can be extremely uncomfortable and at times, debilitating, they don’t tend to put recovering addicts at a high risk for death.
A medical drug detox program, sometimes called withdrawal therapy, is the professional solution to withdrawal from drugs. A medical detox is designed to help a person quit using the substance in a safe and more comfortable way. There are a number of reasons that using a medically-supervised detox is preferable to trying to detox and recover on your own. Medical detox programs are:
- Highly-Supportive: Through professional support, medical drug detox can make quitting more attainable, easier and less likely to result in difficult and even life-threatening symptoms. The aim is also to help the person quit the addictive substance faster and then move forward with sobriety and recovery.
- Intensive and Focused: The detox period is different from rehab treatment. It does not generally include therapy, which is part of the later drug rehab process, but instead puts the focus on helping the person stop using the substance and get past the withdrawal symptoms that may present themselves. It is a short-term solution to prevent and manage acute withdrawal symptoms.
- Medically-Managed: Detoxification often includes medication management that helps manage some of the symptoms and may prevent others, such as seizures. The program will help the person slowly taper off from the drug or quickly stop, depending on the situation. Sometimes a medication will be used to substitute the substance the person is addicted to. Just as the withdrawal symptoms can vary, the detox program will be different to address each person’s needs and the type of substance used.
- Professional Monitored: Detox can also include monitoring to ensure that the person remains safe during withdrawal and then address any problems that may arise. Further, going through detox in an inpatient setting can help because it takes the person away from the substance and triggers while quitting to prevent her from using the substance or another substance to make the withdrawal symptoms stop.
Lasting Sobriety Requires Professional, Ongoing Support
Detox is often best approached with professional supervision, but should also be heavily supported by a comprehensive inpatient drug treatment program. Whereas medical detox fixes the body’s cravings for drugs and/or alcohol, inpatient rehab followed by a step-down program helps eliminate the mind’s cravings. Addiction is an addiction of the body, mind, and spirit; and until all aspects are healed, lasting sobriety can be near impossible. With the right inpatient program and step-down supports in place, an addict can learn to beat drug addiction for good, and live a happy, purposeful life. Granite Recovery Centers offers a full continuum of care of alcohol and drug addiction treatment in 11 centers throughout New Hampshire offering the support you need in every step of your recovery from addiction. Contact Granite Recovery Centers to find out how we can help make overcoming an addiction easier and safer, call (603) 339-4160 today.
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