What Happens During Drug Withdrawals?

The process of withdrawal is physical, mental and emotional. Depending on the addictive substance, the length of time you’ve been using and underlying health conditions, you may also be dealing with a resurgence of symptoms from mental health issues, physical pain and emotional trauma. Getting through physical withdrawal is the first step in getting treatment. Because physical withdrawal from many substances can be life threatening, you should not attempt withdrawal on your own. Many substances that require a monitored withdrawal can impact your heart for the first 72 hours. You will also need careful monitoring to make sure you stay hydrated and get some nourishment.

Getting Through the First Week

Depending on the drug or combination of drugs that make up your addiction, the first withdrawal symptoms can crop up within 6 hours of stopping the drug. During those first 24 hours, you may feel

  • anxious
  • depressed
  • irritable
  • confused

as your brain tries to come back into balance without the addictive substance. It will be hard to focus on your detox goal and you may become quite paranoid, depending on what you are cleansing from your system. Depending on the substances you are leaving behind, there is a risk that you will lose connection with reality. Alcohol abusers who stop drinking suddenly can be at risk of the Delirium Tremens, or DTs. Someone in the throes of this stage of withdrawal can suffer hallucinations and may become violent. It is critical that you do not attempt the detox process on your own. It’s also critical that you remember that detoxing with the help of a friend or loved one may put them at risk.

After the first 72 hours, the mental stress and anxiety will fade. As you gain clarity, having a counselor to talk to is critical. You may also feel the need for a pastor or other spiritual support. Getting help from professionals in a secure setting can help you regain confidence in your mind and better manage your spirit. Physically, your body is also coming into a new level of “normal” or homeostasis. The physical symptoms of withdrawal that are particularly dangerous can include

  • heart palpitations
  • rapid changes in blood pressure
  • extreme nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhea or constipation

The risk of passing out goes up, as does the risk of vomiting, which can lead to aspirational pneumonia or death if the airway is completely blocked. Worse, the nausea can make it impossible to eat and may leave you dangerously dehydrated. Many undergoing drug withdrawals eventually need IV fluids to bring their body back into balance. Physical support from detox professionals may include a nutritional review, a specific diet to help you rebuild your strength, and a regular regimen of water to boost your hydration. If your teeth have been impacted by time and the addictive substance, your diet may need to be modified to make it easier to eat a healthy selection of foods.

Finally, you will feel pretty lousy about your state of hygiene. Detoxing causes dehydration, which will make your mouth taste terrible.During the first 72 hours, it may be hard to keep down water. You may do a lot of sweating, as well as having the shakes and feeling dizzy. The result of this is that you will want a shower, but if you can’t stand up on your own steadily, you will need help. Be prepared to be extremely dependent on others during this process to avoid injury. The professionals who can help you during a managed detox can assist you to stay clean as your body sheds the toxins that have built up in your tissues. Getting and staying hydrated is critical to improving your personal hygiene during this first week.

The gut, kidneys and liver all need water to function effectively. They have been under stress while you have been using, and abusing any substance may do damage to these organs. Detoxing is a brutal but necessary first step to recovery. Getting through withdrawals will take help and support. If you are ready to put in the work of withdrawal with a goal of a clean life, support is available. We can help, call now 833-364-0736.