For those using drugs or alcohol, the discomfort of withdrawal is often what keeps them trapped in the cycle of addiction. But, what is withdrawal? Why does it happen? And, what’s the best way to deal with this challenge? We’re tackling all these questions and more. 

Withdrawals are a symptom that occurs when your body starts to detox from a substance. These symptoms can be physical, mental and emotional. Withdrawals aren’t limited to situations that involve drugs or alcohol. For example, many people are familiar with caffeine withdrawals, which can cause migraine-like headaches, among other uncomfortable symptoms.

For those who are struggling with substance abuse, withdrawals can be one of the first hurdles to addiction recovery. Understanding how they work and the best way to face them can help you overcome this obstacle on your road to sobriety.

Why Does Withdrawal Occur?

In many cases, substances like drugs or alcohol interact with and make changes in your body. For example, opioids and opiates (like prescription painkillers and heroin) activate receptors in your brain. This interaction with your body is what causes the high or any other effects of the drug.

But as you continue to use drugs or alcohol, your body can become used to this altered state. It becomes the new normal. When you suddenly stop introducing more of the substance into your body, it has a physical reaction as it tried to adjust from the new norm created by the substance abuse to a healthier state. During this adjustment period, you may experience several symptoms.

What to Expect From Withdrawal Symptoms

Each type of drug has a unique set of symptoms. Some common ones are anxiety or agitation, stomach issues, sweating or shaking, changes in sleep patterns and mood swings. More dangerous effects can include an increased heart rate or changes in blood pressure.

How long you experience withdrawal symptoms and their severity depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • What type of substances you have been taking
  • How much you’re taking at a time
  • How often you’re using 
  • Whether you’re combining substances
  • Your age, gender and overall health status

What Helps Ease Withdrawal 

Many people who try to fight addiction by themselves think withdrawal is something they have to get through by sheer willpower. And while you do sometimes have to dig deep and bear some symptoms, going it alone is a top reason so many people relapse. The fact is that going through drug or alcohol withdrawal can be scary, painful and even dangerous.

Medication-assisted detox in a residential rehab environment is one of the best ways to deal safely with this process. During the first few days or weeks of your treatment, you can be monitored by doctors and nurses to help alleviate the worry and discomfort that may be experienced at this time. And in some cases, the patient can be treated with medication to help come off of drug use in a more proactive and positive way.

Getting help with getting drugs and alcohol out of your system lets you concentrate on other aspects of your recovery, such as discovering root causes for substance abuse and developing healthier coping mechanisms to manage your addiction in the future. If you want to quit drugs or alcohol but find yourself being driven back to use by withdrawal, call New Day Recovery today at 330-953-3300 to take the first step toward getting caring, professional intervention that can make recovery more comfortable and successful.