Alcohol and drugs can significantly affect a person’s brain and body, causing a strong compulsion and craving to use these substances. As a result, one loses control and develops an addiction. 

When a person is dependent on alcohol and drugs, quitting can be challenging. The mind and body have become accustomed to the presence of these substances. So, they may feel like they need drugs or alcohol to function or think. When they attempt to stop or reduce their intake, the brain and body will try to adjust without the drugs and alcohol. The person may then experience withdrawal symptoms. 

The severity, type, and duration of these effects usually vary depending on the substance abused, method of use, extent of addiction, and co-occurring disorders.

Examples Of Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines often cause severe withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, the effects can be life-threatening or result in death, especially if you attempt to stop using abruptly. 

Alcohol withdrawal may cause delirium tremens, a potentially fatal condition whose symptoms may include tremors, seizures, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, trouble breathing, hallucinations, and sepsis.

To avoid the risk of experiencing life-threatening or fatal substance withdrawal symptoms, you may seek professional help. Consider medically managed detoxification or treatment administered by certified experts.

young people at rehab group meeting, anonymous alcoholics gathered to share problems and get advice, psychology therapy

The physical symptoms you might experience due to withdrawal may include the following: 

  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Low or high blood pressure
  • Irregular or rapid heart rate 
  • Involuntary shaking 
  • Aches and pains
  • Fever 
  • Sweating
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting

The psychological symptoms of withdrawal usually persist longer than physical effects and may include: 

  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Nightmares
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion

You may experience more intense cravings for a substance once you try to stop using it. This is quite common for people with opioid addiction. In such cases, the urge to take the drug again may be too compelling, and it’s easy to fall back into using the substance. If one goes back to consuming such drugs, the chances of overdosing are relatively high. 

With drugs like opioids, a person’s tolerance may increase while abstaining from the substance. Consequently, they might not notice they’re taking too much when they relapse. This may result in an accidental overdose that can be potentially fatal. 

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How To Overcome Withdrawal Symptoms

Recovery from drug and alcohol addiction may not be easy, but it’s achievable. Withdrawal symptoms are expected, and you may fail several attempts to treat substance abuse. The first and most crucial step is acknowledging your problem and accepting that change is essential. 

If you’ve decided to start your sobriety journey, below are some ways to deal with the withdrawal symptoms you may experience:

  1. Consider A Treatment And Recovery Facility

Substance abuse professionals can help you manage withdrawal symptoms and stay on track in recovery. You may check out the websites of treatment and recovery facilities like apibhs.com to learn more about their treatment programs. Alternatively, ask a friend or loved one to recommend a reputable center. 

It’s advisable to consider licensed and accredited treatment and recovery facilities because they offer expert intervention and support for those with substance abuse disorders. Their treatment plans may include the following:

  • Medical Detoxification: Medical detoxification is used to manage withdrawal effects safely. It’s a form of treatment where professionals prescribe medications to help you overcome symptoms or intense cravings. Constant emotional support, supervision, and care are also part of this process. 

Detoxification is considered a crucial first step to getting rid of the drugs and alcohol in one’s body. After this procedure, you may proceed with other types of treatment that help you deal with withdrawal symptoms and keep cravings under control.

  • Psychotherapy: Group, family, or individual psychotherapy is conducted by trained specialists. Also called talk therapy, psychotherapy can help you identify effective ways to get yourself out of triggering situations and overcome thoughts and feelings that may have led to addiction. Additionally, psychotherapy can be valuable in mending relationships broken by substance abuse.
  • Aftercare Follow-Up: Some centers offer aftercare follow-ups. These can help you maintain long-term recovery, avoid relapsing, and work towards achieving your life goals. You may consider an outpatient or inpatient option. For the former, you go to the facility to get treatment and return home at night. As for the latter, you stay in the facility where you can receive round-the-clock support and care. 

People with mild to moderate addiction withdrawal symptoms may opt for home treatment. While this option may be something to consider, know that withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable. Also, since you’re likely to experience agitation, emotional outbursts, depression, and other symptoms, you might hurt your loved ones while recovering from home. 

If treating withdrawal effects at home feels challenging, it may be best to consider professional assistance from treatment and recovery centers. A suitable facility can help you overcome withdrawal symptoms and recover from substance abuse. 

  1. Eat Nutritious Foods

Shifting to nutritious foods can help you deal with withdrawal and hasten your recovery. Substance abuse usually leads to poor nutrition, significantly affecting your mental and physical well-being. When you fail to focus on healthy eating, your body and brain don’t get adequate nourishment. 

In addition, nutritional deficiencies during addiction may occur because you aren’t eating due to decreased appetite. Such deficiencies may also manifest because some substances make you crave and eat unhealthy foods. These can cause mood fluctuations that can result in drug or alcohol misuse.

Furthermore, substance abuse can damage your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to infections and illnesses. The habit may also lead to health complications like hypoglycemia, acid reflux, and irritable bowel syndrome. 

Nutritious meals can benefit your body and mind in several ways during recovery, especially when experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The following are particularly helpful:

  • Peanuts, almonds, healthy carbohydrates, and leafy vegetables can boost your energy, making you less likely to experience withdrawal fatigue.
  • Cabbage, lemons, berries, apples, and garlic help with detoxing by cleaning your digestive system, kidneys, and liver faster. They lessen the severity of withdrawal effects and promote recovery.
  • Sunflower seeds and bananas increase dopamine, which makes you feel good. With this, withdrawal symptoms might be less severe, and alcohol cravings may be suppressed.
  • Salmon, tomatoes, ginger, green tea, cocoa, lentils, and avocado contain healthy fats and vitamins that aid in regulating your moods and restoring brain function. These may help alleviate anxiety and depression. 

Reducing the intake of sugar, caffeine, saturated fats, and processed foods is advisable because they can cause mood swings. When you experience withdrawal symptoms, mood swings can increase the urge to use drugs or alcohol again.  

  1. Drink Enough Water

Dehydration commonly occurs during detoxing due to sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea. Therefore, it’s critical to stay well-hydrated during addiction withdrawal. Water can also help your body eliminate toxins faster. Furthermore, you’ll enjoy several other benefits from drinking water

Withdrawal from substances like opioids can lower your energy level. Water helps provide much-needed energy. It also facilitates the flow of nutrients, oxygen, and blood throughout the body. Thus, adequate hydration helps reduce the severity of withdrawal effects, promote a speedy recovery, and improve overall health.  

  1. Get Adequate Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential during addiction withdrawal. It aids in reducing mood swings, cravings, and hallucinations.  A structured sleeping routine—waking up and going to bed at the same time every day—is recommended. Overall, adequate sleep can help lower the chances of a relapse.

It’s common to experience insomnia during withdrawal. This condition is associated with difficulty sleeping and waking up several times at night. To manage insomnia, avoid using your phone, watching television, or exercising a few hours before bedtime. These activities can lead to overstimulation, preventing restful sleep. Also, practice good bedtime habits like reading, meditating, or other calming activities that promote sleep. 

  1. Exercise Regularly

Exercising offers several benefits during withdrawal from substance abuse. For one, physical activity promotes the production of endorphins. These feel-good neurotransmitters help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression and enhance mood.

Exercising also clears your mind and keeps you from thinking about substance use or its withdrawal effects. Any symptoms you may be experiencing will feel less severe while you exercise. 

Start with low-intensity exercises, gradually increasing the intensity as your body gets accustomed to physical exertion. Regular exercise can boost your energy, giving you the strength to detox and attend therapy sessions. 

In addition, physical activity can promote quality sleep. Exercising enhances relaxation, making it easier to fall into a deep sleep that lasts longer.  

  1. Find A Support Group

Joining a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can significantly help during addiction withdrawal. People who have experienced what you’re going through can offer better support. Also, they can share tips that work for them in overcoming challenging withdrawal symptoms.

A support group can also assist you in achieving long-term sobriety. Surrounding yourself with people with whom you share a common goal can keep you motivated and committed to recovery. Celebrating each other’s little victories over addiction goes a long way in nurturing hope and self-worth. 

  1. Talk To A Therapist

Withdrawal symptoms can make it challenging to carry out your daily activities and have a happy life. Sometimes you’ll have difficult days and feel like you can’t cope with the challenging situation. In such instances, it’s advisable to talk to a behavioral therapist. They can help you find better ways to overcome negative emotions and thoughts. Also, they can suggest healthy coping mechanisms to deal with other withdrawal symptoms. 

A therapist can help if you’re experiencing post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) as you abstain from substance abuse. This condition is characterized by withdrawal effects that continue for months or years after the initial symptoms. A behavioral health professional can guide you through the various treatment options to manage PAWS effectively. 

  1. Take Time To Relax 

You may encounter periods when withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, tremors, mood swings, insomnia, nausea, and reduced appetite, are particularly intense. During such times, it can be difficult to resist your cravings for the addictive substance.

Relaxing can help alleviate negative thoughts and challenging symptoms. So, when you experience tough periods, take some time to rest and relax. Remind yourself why you’re quitting, and acknowledge that you’re taking the proper steps toward a life free of substance abuse and its devastating consequences. Motivate yourself by recognizing that sobriety isn’t easy for anyone and that what you’re feeling is your body and mind going through a normal healing process.

If you need more time to relax, take a break from work or other activities to care for yourself. Get enough sleep, exercise, eat well, get a massage, listen to calming music, meditate, and practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques. Also, allow a loved one to take care of you. They can provide the love and support you need to carry you through withdrawal from substance abuse. 

  1. Try New Healthy Habits

Staying away from drugs or alcohol can make you realize how much time you’ve wasted engaging in substance abuse. As you gradually overcome your addiction, you’ll have more free time. However, being idle can intensify withdrawal symptoms and increase the risk of relapsing. 

Keep yourself busy by taking up healthy hobbies. You can try leisurely activities like gardening, woodworking, cooking, or painting. It’s also ideal to connect with sober friends and engage in athletic activities, such as playing tennis, rock climbing, or cycling. Do something to get your mind off withdrawal symptoms and substance abuse.

Final Thoughts 

Withdrawal symptoms can make recovery from substance abuse challenging. The physical and psychological effects accompanying detoxification can cause much pain and distress. In some instances, the symptoms can be life-threatening or even fatal. For this reason, it’s advisable to seek professional help. 

Behavioral health specialists can help you overcome negative thoughts and avoid triggers that lead to substance abuse. Participating in a support group also reinforces your resolve to break your addiction as members motivate each other. The support of family and friends is likewise vital to keep you on track. Finally, you can help yourself by eating nutritious food, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and engaging in relaxing activities. 

The road to sobriety and recovery may be long and hard, but specialists, your loved ones, and a support group can help you get there. 

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