08 Nov Dangers of Withdrawal From Alcohol and Drugs
Withdrawing from alcohol or drugs can be not only uncomfortable, but also extremely dangerous and possibly life-threatening. Withdrawal symptoms give your body a clear message that you’ve become physically dependent on the chemicals that you have been using and that it doesn’t know how to function without them. There are certain substances that should never be discontinued suddenly or without medical supervision.
When active addicts or alcoholics try to quit drinking or drugging without help, they will probably experience intense cravings. They want relief from this feeling and other bad feelings at any cost, and it’s this compulsion that typically causes them to return to alcohol or drugs again and again.
The nature of addiction is that once you have begun to habitually use alcohol or drugs, there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to quit without help. In the case of many substances, you shouldn’t even try. Efforts to quit cold turkey can have devastating effects. This is especially true if you have been addicted for several months or years.
The Most Dangerous Chemicals
You may be surprised to learn that one of the most dangerous chemicals to withdraw from is alcohol. If you have ever tried to quit drinking on your own, you may have experienced some pretty uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Tremors, sweating and a sense of panic can set in within 12 hours of your last drink. Many alcoholics quickly reach for another drink to relieve these disagreeable symptoms.
Symptoms of withdrawing from alcohol can range from mild to severe. Examples of severe symptoms include tremors, hallucinations and seizures. A person who experiences severe symptoms from alcohol withdrawal should be immediately placed under medical supervision as withdrawal from alcohol dependence can be life-threatening. Delirium tremens, also known as alcohol withdrawal delirium, causes major problems with your nervous system and brain. It is a medical emergency.
Withdrawal from other substances, particularly benzodiazepines, can be equally dangerous. If you try to quit benzodiazepines cold turkey, you may feel extremely nervous, anxious or depressed. You may experience body aches or flu-like symptoms. You may shake, have trouble sleeping and you may have seizures.
One of the most challenging types of withdrawal is caused by trying to kick multiple substances. If you have been abusing several drugs, you will probably experience very overpowering withdrawal symptoms. In severe cases, stroke, heart attack or even death can result.
Drugs That Are Psychologically Addicting
Other drugs are considered psychologically but not physically addicting. You may experience intense emotional reactions when trying to give up your drug of choice and you will probably also experience a variety of physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea, difficulty breathing and heart palpitations.
Discontinuing the use of opiates such as morphine, oxycodone and heroin can lead to extremely frightening and uncomfortable feelings that typically trigger a compulsion to quickly go back to using drugs. Emotional withdrawal symptoms include irritability, headaches, insomnia, restlessness and an inability to concentrate.
The withdrawal symptoms from these drugs are unpleasant but not necessarily dangerous, at least not physically. But there is always a risk of suicide or relapse. Many people will be unable to give up substances without help.
Seeking Medical Care
Drugs and alcohol affect people differently so the exact symptoms or duration of withdrawal aren’t always predictable. And it isn’t always easy to identify patients who are at risk of dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
If you have been using drugs or alcohol on a habitual basis for any length of time, you will probably experience a combination of intense withdrawal symptoms that are both physical and psychological. For most addicted people, it is best if you go through detoxification while a medically trained person is present. Medically supervised detoxification can help to control withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of dangerous complications. Getting medical help can help you get past withdrawal symptoms so that you can get on the road to recovery.
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