Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to dependence and addiction. Not only is addiction detrimental to physical health, but it also impacts emotional and psychological wellness negatively. When someone decides it’s time to stop the downward spiral, rehabilitation is usually the next step. Facilities generally offer a variety of inpatient and outpatient treatment options to assist patients with addictions to various substances. Some people require intensive inpatient detoxification first before they can move on to addiction counseling to address their behaviors. Understanding drug detox and potential withdrawal symptoms helps people prepare for the process, which can help ensure successful recovery.

Identifying Withdrawal Symptoms

Individual withdrawal symptoms will vary for every patient depending on the substance abused and other personal health factors that could make symptoms less or more intense. Physical withdrawal symptoms happen because the body becomes accustomed to the presence of a substance. When the substance suddenly disappears, the body reacts. For example, addiction to depressant drugs suppresses normal production of neurotransmitters in the brain. Once these drugs are gone from a person’s system, the brain responds with a large surge of adrenaline, which leads to withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, headaches, insomnia, sweating, heart palpitations, tremors, nausea, and more. Some symptoms can be severe or even life-threatening, depending on the substance involved. Withdrawal from benzodiazepine prescription drugs, for example, requires medical supervision, with the patient gradually decreasing the drug instead of just stopping it abruptly. Opiate withdrawal is generally not life-threatening, but it is usually very uncomfortable for a patient, so many facilities offer medication to help lessen opiate withdrawal symptoms. A medically supervised detox helps keep patients both safe and comfortable.

Coping Strategies

Coping with withdrawal symptoms can be challenging, but patients can take steps to help minimize their discomfort. Drinking adequate amounts of water can help flush out toxins and keep body processes functioning correctly. Paying attention to nutritional intake and eating healthful foods with high vitamin and mineral content may also help. Some patients find it helpful to engage in exercise, deep breathing, and meditation during withdrawal. These practices can help with anxiety. If exhaustion hits, rest is also beneficial. Depending on the nature of the addiction, some patients might use specialized medications that help ease withdrawal symptoms.

Physical Activities

When you exercise, your body responds by producing dopamine, which enhances your feelings of well-being. Drug addiction is also responsible for interrupting the natural balance of dopamine in the brain. Thus, anyone going through rehabilitation might benefit from adding exercise to their treatment plan. Mood naturally improves with exercise, which can be very beneficial for patients struggling with withdrawal symptoms. Moderate exercise that elevates the heart rate, such as brisk walking or jogging, can help ease withdrawal symptoms. This type of activity also stimulates appetite and helps with insomnia, which can be helpful during rehabilitation. Even laughter has been shown to produce chemicals that enhance feelings of well-being.

Preparing for Withdrawal Symptoms

Knowledge is one of the best ways to prepare for withdrawal symptoms. Understanding the process helps you know what to expect and how you might feel throughout the transition. The first 48 hours are generally the most intense, and during this time, the cravings will feel the strongest. Having a plan in place to fight these cravings can be helpful. For example, if anxiety hits, you can plan to use meditation or deep breathing to calm yourself. Psychological symptoms may also be a challenge. Once your brain isn’t impaired anymore, intense feelings such as anger or depression are common. The duration and intensity of these feelings depends on the length of the addiction and the substance abused. Knowing that you are in a structured and supervised environment with professionals available to assist you can also be comforting.