Medical Detox: On Reducing The Symptoms of Drug or Alcohol Withdrawal
Addiction to any substance is most likely going to lead to unpleasant and possibly dangerous withdrawal symptoms upon cessation. If it didn’t, those who are addicted would find it much easier to quit and remain sober.
While the withdrawal symptoms exhibited by individuals vary according to the substance of abuse and the severity of the dependency, there are similar effects experienced among those who are detoxifying from substance abuse.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Depression, suicidal thoughts
- Anxiety, feelings of nervousness, panic
- Mood swings, irritability
- Lethargy and low energy
- Insomnia, nightmares
- Tremors, in extreme cases, seizures
- Chills, sweating
- Aches and pains, general malaise
- Decreased libido
Undergoing a medical detox helps reduce withdrawal symptoms in a number of ways. One, patients are supervised 24-7, as vital signs are monitored along with his or her physical, mental, and emotional state.
Second, medications are often administered to mitigate the worst effects of detox. Overall, the patient is privy to the best health care options, including proper nutrition and hydration. The main objective of a medical detox is to maintain a patient’s safety, relative comfort, and overall stability.
Withdrawal symptoms persist after detox, however, and depending on the drug and level of addiction certain symptoms can last for days, weeks, or months. For this reason, addiction treatment includes aspects intended to help the patient continue to reduce the effects of withdrawal. These include nutritional support, exercise, non-addictive alternatives for pain relief, and mind-body practices such as medication.
While the detox and recovery process is never easy, medical support can make a huge difference in a person’s comfort and aid in their ability to maintain long-term sobriety.
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If you or someone you love is abusing substances, please seek treatment as soon as possible. There are many resources available to help you or your loved one.
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~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology