The Risks And Challenges During Withdrawal
Withdrawing from drugs and alcohol poses risks and challenges that can make some feel concerned. The body purges harsh toxins that it was once dependent on and suffers a variety of side effects caused by the impact of the drug. Withdrawals carry specific risks based on the substance someone has used, the frequency of drugs used, if the individual has combined drugs together, and when they last used.
Moreover, drug withdrawal affects people in various ways. Age can play a factor; younger populations may need more support, as they are still developing aspects of their personality and cognition. Quitting “cold turkey” in some cases may be successful, depending on the substance. However, individuals with substance use disorders may find it hard to cope with effects like depression, anxiety, insomnia, unpredictable behavior, and can become tempted to relapse to avoid discomfort. While detox may seem like an intimidating idea, getting cutting-edge medications when one is purging is the best way to withdrawal safely.
Withdrawal And PAWS: Safety With Detox
Withdrawing from Opioids can be extremely difficult. Short-term Opioids produce symptoms 8 to 24 hours post-withdrawal, and long-acting Opioids produce symptoms 12-48 hours post-use. In some cases, people can feel the impact 20 days later. Furthermore, substances like alcohol, Marijuana, Benzodiazepines, Cocaine, Meth, and Heroin produce withdrawal effects that last between 6 months to 2 years; this is known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). PAWS creates many uncomfortable side effects that can be overwhelming, especially if someone endures it without professional support. Some of these include, but are not limited to:
Enduring these over time can cause disturbances that can offset relapse or poor coping skills.
The distress of quitting substance abuse suddenly combined with the mental fatigue of withdrawal or PAWS syndrome can feel unsafe without guidance, monitoring, or support. For example, detoxing provides medications like Methadone for Opioid withdrawal, while treating underlying conditions like depression or anxiety simultaneously, hence making withdrawal safer and more comfortable.
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Nutritional Support, Detox, And Withdrawal Safety
For many, maintaining a healthy diet during withdrawal can be extremely difficult. As someone purges their body and mind from harmful chemicals, eating and taking vitamins can seem like an afterthought. Furthermore, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating can dehydrate the individual, worsening symptoms and health. For example, during alcohol withdrawal, individuals can feel depressed due to the lack of dopamine they feel; getting access to food that creates natural amounts of dopamine, along with other nutrients available, can improve their mood.
Having proper guidance with nutrition along with someone present to monitor vital signs, behaviors, and provide comfort if needed can boost trust. It can encourage vitality while creating positive feelings of safety associated with detox for withdrawal.
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Monitoring, Safety, And Detox During Withdrawal
If someone who abused drugs has extreme mental health imbalances, has had thoughts of suicide, or has done self-harm, they would benefit from detoxing in an inpatient facility. The protection of the patient would remain a motivating factor in creating a safe space for recovery. Furthermore, enduring withdrawal for substances and experiencing depression, anxiety, or hallucinations can make matters worse. Since the patient is not isolated while trying to get sober, and medical staff provides around-the-clock, hands-on care, they may feel more connected and supported. Lastly, they are monitored, so if they attempt to hurt themselves during detox, someone can try and intervene.
Safety During Withdrawal: Detoxing While Pregnant
According to a study, “22% of pregnant women were prescribed Opioids for pregnancy.” This puts them at risk of developing Opioid tolerances and addictions before and during pregnancy. Furthermore, if an expecting mom endures depression or anxiety during pregnancy, and abuses Opioids, she puts herself at greater risk of developing an addiction. If she drinks alcohol during pregnancy, the fetus can be at risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), and birth defects which have marked impairments with sometimes life-lasting effects. Miscarriages and stillbirths can occur.
Expecting mothers who abuse drugs are endangering both the fetus and themselves; stopping substance abuse can pose dangerous effects. Withdrawing from drugs while pregnant can be both dangerous and unsettling. Because of the risk of miscarriage, birth defects (both physical and developmental) and anxiety that can stem from birth complications, pregnant women addicted to drugs are in a vulnerable population. Detox would provide drugs that are safe while staff monitors mood changes and ensures the proper nutrients needed to thrive are received.
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Safety For Expecting Mothers During Detox: Medication
Detoxing in a medical setting can encourage the connection needed by caring staff. Recovering in an inpatient facility with nutritional meals, support groups, counseling, and detox programs can provide the emotional support needed for recovery. Medical staff can comfort and provide substances that are safe for expecting mothers in the right dosages. Detoxing with no medications can create more harm for pregnant women; because of this, detoxing under the care of a medical professional is ideal to prevent an increased chance of relapse.
Get Help Today
Deciding to live drug-free and having a fresh, new start in life is a commendable decision. Don’t let the fear of the unknown and the fear of detox hold you back. Trust the process. Start your recovery experience today by contacting a treatment provider to talk about rehab options.
Ashish Bhatt, MD, MRO
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Learn about Dr. Ashish Bhatt
Dr. Bhatt has been Addiction Center's Medical Content Director for more than three years, providing his expertise to ensure quality and accuracy.
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Expert in adult and child psychiatry
Over 20 years of professional experience