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How to Handle Withdrawal

Many addicts that are considering treatment for their addictions worry about withdrawal. This is genuinely a valid concern, as withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe and even dangerous and life threatening in some cases, depending on the substance that the addict is trying to stop using. Many addicts and their families feel that the addict is safer and more likely to be successful in this endeavor if they participate in a detox that is supervised by trained addiction personnel, and in many cases this is correct as they have the specialized training necessary to teach the addict how to handle withdrawal. For alcoholics, detoxing from alcohol can be very dangerous. Over time, the addict has developed both a physical and mental dependence on alcohol, and as they withdraw and the body metabolizes the alcohol from the system, the body can react violently. Withdrawal symptoms include irritability, dizziness, depression, anxiety, sweating, shaking and much more. These symptoms can progress to hallucinations, convulsions, tachycardia, unstable heart rate, Delirium Tremens (DTs), heart attack, stroke and death. For this reason it is recommended that alcoholics may be safer to complete detox in a medically supervised setting. Detoxing from other substances such as heroin and other opiates, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and others can also be quite painful, but are not known for being as likely to cause death or serious injury during withdrawal. Some of the symptoms of withdrawal from these substances are very similar to some of the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol because some of the neurochemical and physiological changes are similar. Many addicts of these substances also choose to undergo medically supervised detox to help with the withdrawal symptoms as there are medications and counseling available to help them deal with the withdrawal symptoms and ease their pain and suffering. In addition to these coping mechanisms, many addicts find that it helps to have someone with them to talk to while they are going through symptoms of withdrawal. It can really be beneficial to the addict to have both those who are trained in fighting addiction as well as visits from family members and friends to encourage them during this tough process. Other coping mechanisms to help handle withdrawal include meditation, prayer, daily exercise that can include traditional workouts, tai-chi, yoga and more to help burn off some of the nervous energy that can accompany withdrawal. During this difficult time it can be very important to ensure that attention is paid to nutrition and vitamin and mineral supplementation may be provided to help the addict’s body in the recovery process as drug use is very damaging to the body and so the body has special needs to facilitate healing during this process. The important thing for addicts to remember is that even though the withdrawal symptoms can be painful or even severe, it is worth this temporary period of suffering to begin the process of becoming drug free. Drug use actually threatens the very life of the addict, so medical detox should not be put off when the addict is willing to make an honest effort and commitment to stop abusing drugs.