For people in active addiction (whether the substance used is alcohol or any other drug), the idea of getting clean and sober can be terrifying. People who have experienced drug withdrawal often remember the experience as so agonizing that they would do practically anything to avoid going through it again. And not without good reason. In addition to the host of brutal withdrawal symptoms addicts experience, stopping the use of some drugs “cold turkey” can actually kill.
Substance Withdrawal Can be Lethal: The Case of Alcohol and Tranquilizers
The two drugs/drug classes from which cold turkey withdrawal should never be attempted are alcohol and tranquilizers. The reason for this is simple: without professionally-supervised medical detoxification, withdrawal from either alcohol or tranquilizers can prove fatal. The frequent use of alcohol or tranquilizers, when abruptly stopped, can lead to seizures, strokes, or heart attacks. Other symptoms of alcohol and tranquilizer withdrawal include hallucinations and delirium tremens (DTs). A medically-supervised detox can soften the severity of a person’s withdrawal symptoms and minimize the risk of serious health threats.
Heroin and other Opioid Drugs
It is well accepted that opioids are a highly addictive and widely abused class of drugs. Opioids include illegal drugs like heroin and fentanyl, as well as equally potent prescription drugs like OxyContin/oxycodone, morphine, and methadone. Less powerful members of this drug group include hydrocodone and codeine. These drugs produce both pain-numbing effects and intense pleasure when consumed—experiences that the user often seeks to replicate through repeated use and increasingly larger doses. The potential for becoming addicted to these substances is, therefore, extremely high. A pain management regimen that includes opiate use beyond a few weeks can easily lead to the user becoming addicted. It is estimated that there are at least several million Americans currently suffering from opiate use disorder.
One of the great challenges to recovery that individuals suffering from alcohol or opiate use disorder face is the withdrawal period. There are many opiate withdrawal symptoms and none of them are pleasant. Addicts in opiate withdrawal frequently experience flu-like symptoms like fever, vomiting, diarrhea, runny nose, and stomach cramps. These symptoms often come in waves over a period of days, sometimes stretching into several weeks. The length of time these symptoms are experienced depends on a variety of factors, including the kind of opioid the addict was addicted to and how much, how often, and for how long the drug was used.
One of the reasons why a medically-supervised detox is advisable for opioid addicts is that some of the symptoms left untreated, can result in death. These are the dehydration and diarrhea most addicts experience as part of their opioid withdrawal. The human body requires water and various salts and nutrients to stay alive. Extended and severe dehydration and diarrhea can rob the body of these substances to the point where it can no longer function. Medically-Supervised detoxification can minimize the length and severity of these symptoms and make the addict’s withdrawal much more comfortable and safe.
While the symptoms of stimulant withdrawal are rarely life-threatening, they can be very challenging to endure and can leave the addict more vulnerable to relapse. Stimulant withdrawal symptoms can include nervousness, sleeplessness, anxiety, increased hunger, low energy, cravings, and difficulty feeling pleasure.
One symptom many individuals withdrawing from stimulants report during withdrawal is depression. Because stimulants make users feel good by increasing the body and brain’s production of a variety of “feel good” neurotransmitters—like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine—it can take many weeks or even months before the recovering addict begins to feel good again. Depression can make an addict more vulnerable to relapse since using is a sure way to once more flood the brain with the absent “feel good” neurotransmitters.
Medically-Supervised detoxification can minimize and, in some cases, eliminate these symptoms. In so doing, the recovering addict can focus less on feeling miserable more on the recovery process. Starting the recovery process in a warm, safe, and supportive environment can make the difference between a successful start to recovery and a brutal relapse. There is a widespread belief that relapse is a part of recovery. However, this is simply not true for every person in recovery. The reality is that drug and/or alcohol relapses are dangerous and can easily become deadly. It makes a vast amount of sense to limit the chances of relapse as much as possible. Medically-supervised detoxification can help.
Every addict or alcoholic who makes the choice to stop using and drinking wants to improve the chances of starting a new life in recovery. Medically-supervised detoxification can serve this purpose by providing comfort and security during the withdrawal process. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug and alcohol addiction in Miami, please call the Summer House Detox Center now at 800-719-1090. Speak with one of our addiction specialists about how we can help start the recovery process in the least painful and most beneficial way possible. You can also visit us at 13550 Memorial Highway Miami, FL 33161. We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.