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Signs of Drug Withdrawal

Feb 01 | 2014
signs-of-drig-withdrawal

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





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