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Signs of Drug Withdrawal

Authentic Recovery Center | Licensed Provider for Detoxification, Residential, Outpatient and Co-Occurring Disorders Treatment in Los Angeles, California.

“I had been to 2 other treatment centers prior to finding the Authentic Recovery Center. Take it from me, I did more work there in 30 days there than I did in both other facilities combined, and I didn’t relapse afterwards…”

Jason – Santa Monica, California

Getting Started

The Authentic Recovery Center is a co-occurring disorders and addiction treatment center located in Los Angeles, California. We offer multiple treatment options that incorporate an individualized approach and evidence-based clinical philosophies. If you would like to learn more about our rehabilitation techniques call 1 877 415 4673 now.

Learning More

This section of the website will provide a broad overview of the more common manifestations of signs associated with drug withdrawal. Discussion will include a general summary of what constitutes signs of Drug Withdrawal, followed by a brief overview its symptoms, and finally ARC’s treatment methods.

Signs of Drug Withdrawal

Drug withdrawal refers to a set of symptoms that occur as a result of cessation from a drug or medication that one has habitually used for a prolonged period of time. The symptomology of withdrawal is as varied as the substances that produce their effects. One can experience withdrawal symptoms from Stimulants such as Methamphetamines, from Sedatives such as Valium, long lasting tranquilizers such as Barbiturates, in addition to Opiates such as Heroin.

The Essence of Addiction

The development of withdrawal symptomology is exclusively precipitated by dependence, which in turn necessitates habituated use, and usually occurs in tandem with addictive pathology. For the sake of clarity, addictive pathology can be regarded as an umbrella term – a shorthand – that covers a wide range of behaviors, disorders, and personality traits, which, taken together, indicate the presence of addiction. In cases where addiction is present, there is a constellation of characteristics that, broadly speaking, give shape to the treatment measures best suited to the individual, and orient the trajectory of the protocols that will be employed to help them get clean. At ARC, each client is treated as an individual, and as such given the dignity of a personalized assessment that strives to avoid assumptions with regards to their care. For the person looking to get clean or a loved one attempting to help a spouse, son, daughter, etc, acquire help, this is of the utmost importance.

Personalized Protocols are Critical

Unfortunately, treatment has become an industry; primarily concerned with the bottom line as opposed to the well-being of the client. Efficiency has become so pervasive that the integrity of the treatment process has degenerated proportionally to the quality of care that is available. Today, more often than not, the treatment process is preoccupied with streamlining its protocols and operating under generalized assumptions that have less to do with ensuring the client receives dignified, personalized care, as it does maintaining census. With regards to the medical component of treatment, addiction is not the same as, say, high cholesterol, where treatment measures are standardized and adhere to a set of interventions that apply effectively to both elderly Caucasians as well as young African Americans. Addiction is so complex with regards to its pathology that to make overly broad assumptions actually hinders the addict’s progress towards recovery. ARC’s treatment team is distinguished by the manner in which it approaches the person seeking help. And, although there are elements and features of addiction that occur on a continuum of dysfunction – regardless of race, ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic factors – the bane of effective treatment is relying on presumptions that effectively evades the nuances of the person as well as their specific needs.

Withdrawal Causes are Complex

Addiction is multifaceted, and is the result of myriad factors, which include genetic markers, physiological traits, psychological disorders, family history, personal history, and a host of other features that make effective treatment a form of alchemy. What works for one person may very well harm another, and when other mental health disorders are present (what is referred to as dual diagnosis – more below), successful treatment protocols become that much more refined. Usually, by the time a person experiences withdrawal symptoms, their condition has progressed to a point where professional care is a necessity. It is at the preliminary stages of treatment where assumptions can be employed with little or no harm done to the addict.

For example, Heroin withdrawal follows a predictable course and manifests with a predicable set of symptoms which last for a specific set of time that occur regardless of one’s personality traits or psychological characteristics. As such, detoxing someone from Heroin requires certain steps that are as universal as the symptoms themselves; as such detox can be successfully achieved with the assistance of assumptions that usually pertain to the physical aspects of the detox process. It should be noted, however, that even symptomology as predictable as Heroin, it is nonetheless necessary to take into account emotional and psychological considerations that are unique to the individual, without which comprehensive treatment is impossible.

This holds true for Stimulants and Sedatives alike. Each substance, medication, or drug, manifests common features that will occur at stages regardless of the personality traits each person brings to the table. There are also scenarios that, by their very nature, require scrutiny in a way that honors them as unique beings requiring a unique set of interventions. This is especially true where a person has become dependent on a drug but demonstrates little or none of the Addictive pathology that typifies the Addictive cycle.

Med Compliance Dependency and Withdrawal

There are situations in which a person becomes unwittingly dependent on a medication that is obtained legally and prescribed by a physician. This particular scenario presents certain complications with regards to treatment protocols, not the least being that they otherwise manifest none of the drug seeking behaviors and co-occurring illnesses that are present in most addicts. This particular variety of Addict is usually baffled, terrified, and resistant to the idea that they are in the same situation as a Heroin addict who has spent years running the street and engaging in anti-social behaviors. There are scenarios in which a person becomes addicted to a Sedative – Valium, for instance – without demonstrating the behaviors that typify addictive pathology. In situations of this kind, detox protocols must be tailored to the individual, despite the fact that this is the stage of recovery where assumptions can be safely made because of the commonality of physical withdrawal symptoms.

Severity of Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptomatically (in addition to the variety of drug being abused), the severity of the withdrawal symptoms is proportional to the quantity and duration of abuse. A long-term Methadone habit will be significantly more uncomfortable than a two month Vicodin habit, although symptomatically there will also be similarities. And, in the same way Addiction occurs in stages, withdrawal progresses through clearly defined stages, as does the entire treatment process.

Antidepressant Withdrawal

It is also worth noting that withdrawal symptoms can occur from cessation of drugs that are not regarded as drugs with abuse potential. Antidepressants, what are known as SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin reuptake Inhibits), can generate symptoms that are fairly uncomfortable and possibly injurious. Before a person stops taking a medication of this nature, it is important to explore with their physician what course of action is best suited to their situation. Regardless of the drug or medication’s abuse potential, symptoms of withdrawal may be even more dramatic when the drug has masked prolonged malnutrition, disease, chronic pain, or sleep deprivation, conditions that addicts often suffer as secondary consequence of their drug habit.

Physical Symptoms of Drug Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms can manifest as both physical and psychological symptoms, which are caused by physiological adaptions in the central nervous system and the brain due to chronic exposure to a specific substance. The following list is not comprehensive but should give you an idea of some of the more common physical symptoms that indicate the presence of withdrawal. These include:

  • Increased heart rate and/or blood pressure.
  • Sweating, chills, and tremors.
  • Confusion.
  • Seizures.
  • Cramps.
  • Body aches and paions.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Insomnia.
  • Runny nose and fever.

Emotional Symptoms of Drug Withdrawal

In addition to physical withdrawal symptoms, symptoms can also manifest emotionally. Emotional symptoms include:

  • Extended periods of depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Nervousness.
  • Volatile mood swings.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Drugs with Abuse Potential

The following is a list of some of the more commonly abused drugs available. These drugs include:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Hallucinogens
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opiates
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Inhalants
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nicotine

Drug Withdrawal & Dual Diagnosis

At ARC, the primary operative principle is to meet the client where they are at, and from there create a personalized treatment plan that will honor them as an individual and strive to do away with assumptions based upon conventional or standardized modes of clinical care. Addiction treatment that successfully addresses the issues accompanying a Dual Diagnosis and Chemical Dependency must work as one intervention, with each condition being thought of as part of a whole. The first phase of any treatment plan, however, is detoxification (Dual Diagnosis refers to a condition in which one’s Chemical Dependency plays out in tandem with another mental health disorder – Depression, Anxiety Disorder, etc. – complicating treatment and requiring a subtle set of protocols to halt the progression of both conditions).

Initial Assessment

At ARC, a Dual Diagnosed client is carefully assessed by one of our independent physicians to determine the correct course of action to rid the person of their physical Dependence.  During and after this initial phase a comprehensive treatment plan is developed, taking into consideration all of the factors that contribute to a client’s mental health status, including family history and medical history, in addition to all relevant psychological factors.

Holistic Treatment Approach

Chemical Dependency treatment following detoxification at ARC is multi-faceted.  As stated before, Chemical Dependency and Dual Diagnosis is a complex set of issues that requires multiple tactics to successfully treat. Unfortunately, the medical components of the detox process are so varied and so exhaustive that to individually list them all lays outside the scope of this article. Suffice to say, treatment at ARC includes individual and group counseling, attending 12 Step meetings and working a 12 Step program, psychotherapy, as well as education and supplemental, alternative therapies such as nutrition and exercise, in addition to after-care and continued monitoring of one’s medication regiment and psychological progress.

Social Model Treatment

Unique to ARC’s treatment strategies is utilizing the social aspects of the residential setting. Addiction is in part a disease of isolation. The addict isolates themselves, and also ends up isolating loved ones, friends, and family. The social component of addiction treatment is vitally important, without which treatment cannot occur. The group must be used to organically create an environment in which a Chemically Dependent person learns to express feelings, process emotions, successfully resolve conflicts, and essentially learn to develop and maintain healthy relationships that will be crucial to their long-term recovery. If successful, the social element of ARC addiction treatment will act as a map of sorts that the addict will unconsciously carry over into other aspects of their life.

Family Support

Addiction treatment also must take into consideration the family component. At ARC, family support is provided with group therapy, couples counseling, and family therapy.  This network of support encourages and supports loved ones to become a part of the addict’s process of recovery, and in turn fosters their own growth. As with all diseases that are chronic and debilitating, addiction takes a toll on families, and requires both treatment of its own kind, in addition to education, to be fully comprehensive. Everyone has heard of the word “enabling”, and it is a word which is perhaps overused. However, with regards to long-term addiction, enabling takes on a very specific meaning. Typically it is used to describe how loved ones unwittingly assist an addict to continue using. But the term actually means more; enabling it is not only the ways in which loved ones allow an addict to continue using, but more importantly refers to the unconscious ways in which loved one’s perpetuate both addiction and their own deterioration, usually without their knowledge.

Types of Therapy

ARC’s Chemical Dependency programs employ various behavioral therapies in conjunction with medications and cognitive behavioral therapies. These therapies include:

  • CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, targets destructive thoughts and destructive behaviors and aims to have the client unlearn them. In place of these destructive traits the client is instructed and encouraged to construct new belief systems that counter the destructive cycles that characterize addictive behaviors and thinking.
  • IGT, or Integrated Group Therapy, is a recent addition to the preexisting therapies designed to tackle Dual Diagnosed individuals. Using the group setting, this style of therapy targets people suffering from bipolar disorder and drug addiction.
  • ET, or Exposure Therapy, is a behavioral model that had proven useful in assisting addicts also suffering from phobias or anxiety disorders. Frequently with people suffering from anxiety disorders, they find themselves triggered by specific stimuli, which in turn triggers a craving for a drug. Like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Exposure Therapy seeks to unlearn these responses, and to establish in their place more rational, less destructive responses. This style of treatment has promise assisting individuals who experience anxiety and are also addicted to cocaine.
  • DBT, or Dialectic Behavioral Therapy, specifically seeks to lessen behaviors that cause self-harm, such as cutting or mutilation. It is also used to treat individuals with a history of suicidal ideation or suicide attempts, and has proven helpful treating individuals who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Multidisciplinary Methods

It should be noted that no one single therapy provides a cure, and that the most successful interventions combine different therapeutic styles in conjunction with various medications. This is where the need to utilize an integrated approach becomes necessary.  At ARC, Chemical Dependency treatment is distinguished by the comprehensive programs created by our multi-dimensional staff, which includes after-care programs specifically tailored to the needs of each individual.

ARC’s multidimensional approach includes:

  • The most advanced and effective Dual Diagnosis treatment available.
  • Comprehensive assessments that take into consideration both medical, psychological, and emotional factors.
  • Detoxification services that are closely monitored by our trained staff and overseen by independent doctors.
  • A dignified approach that honors the total needs of the client.
  • Counseling that includes Family Counseling, Group counseling, as well as One-on-One Counseling.
  • Ongoing therapy with clinicians who specialize in Addiction pathology.
  • Long-term treatment planning that includes Aftercare, Extended Care, and Alumni services.
  • Integrated treatment specially designed to treat Dual Diagnosed individuals. This includes psychiatric care, oversight of medications, and continued aftercare.

Call to Learn More about the Authentic Recovery Center Today

This is by no means a comprehensive picture of the services ARC provides. Please visit the other sections of our website to better understand the full spectrum of Addiction Treatment options available to you or your loved one. Education is the most important tool available to you, and keeping current on latest treatment practices is the best way to ensure you or someone you love receives the care they need. If you would like to learn more about our Dual Diagnosis treatment services please call 1 877 415 4673 to speak with a counselor today.

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