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Xpert Withdrawal Q & A

Xpert Withdrawal Q & A

What are the medical risks associated with drug and alcohol withdrawal?

There is a long list of symptoms that can be experienced during withdrawal from drugs and alcohol. Some of these symptoms are not life-threatening but can cause an individual to be in extreme discomfort. This includes but is not limited to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, restless legs, hot/cold sweats, and anxiety. Though these symptoms themselves are not life-threatening, if they are not handled correctly, they can lead other issues such as dehydration and sleep deprivation. These issues require immediate medical intervention.

When it comes to benzodiazepine, alcohol, and high amounts of opiates, a medically supervised withdrawal is required to prevent serious risks. Seizures are one of the biggest risks associated with certain drug and alcohol withdrawal. If not handled properly, one could potentially die due to complications with withdrawal.

Do all treatment centers use medications to get you through the withdrawal process?

Treatment centers use a couple of different approaches when it comes to getting someone through withdrawal, and not all them use medications.

There are 3 main approaches:

  • Drug-Free withdrawal: This approach uses vitamins & nutrition to help the body. While an individual is abusing drugs, the body is depleted of vital vitamins and nutrients that can contribute to and worsen the effects of the withdrawal. Though there can be mild discomforts, with medical supervision to ensure things are safe, a drug-free withdrawal can be the most effective and fastest way to come off of drugs.
  • A symptom-based approach: In this option, individuals are not prescribed drugs to take the place of the substances they were using but are given medication based on their symptoms. Medical professionals use a mix of over-the-counter medications and less powerful prescription drugs to help the individual through the withdrawal process. Though this approach is not as “comfortable” as a medically assisted withdraw, it tends to be over in a shorter amount of time, and latent withdrawal symptoms are less frequent.
  • A medically assisted withdrawal: In this treatment option, an individual is prescribed medication to help them taper down from the amount of drugs they were taken. This option is recommended for high levels of benzodiazepine and alcohol abuse as it prevents an individual from experiencing seizures and other risks associated with withdrawal. It can also be utilized for those coming off high levels of opiates. Though the health risks are not as severe. A medically assisted withdrawal can help with the pain and discomfort associated with withdrawal and can make getting help easier to confront.

When is medically assisted withdrawal necessary?

Medically assisted withdrawal or detox is usually necessary when you’re on high levels of certain drugs and alcohol that could potentially pose a health risk when stopping cold turkey. With drugs like benzodiazepine and alcohol, withdrawal can cause the body and mind to have debilitating side effects like hallucinations and seizures. It is important to know that sometimes just stopping your drug and alcohol use is not always the best way to get clean, and in some cases could be dangerous. One should always consult with a counselor or health professional when deciding to stop using substances. Doing so will allow them to help you find the best treatment for you and help you avoid potential health risk.

Besides physical discomfort, what can someone expect while going through drug and alcohol withdrawal?

There are a lot of mental and emotional obstacles one faces when going through withdrawal. The three main things I have noticed in my professional experience are as followed:

  • Cravings – One of the biggest mental obstacles while going through withdrawal are the cravings of the substance you are coming off of. If you are at the point of going through withdrawal, your body has a physical dependency on your drug of choice. Your body is constantly telling your mind that you need this substance to feel better. Fighting craving can be very difficult. Many people who try and stop taking drugs on their own are hard-pressed to overcome this obstacle because it can be very easy to obtain the drugs you’re trying to escape when you’re not in a professional setting. A moment of weakness can lead to a call or a text that sets things in motion to keep you hooked. Sometimes multiple failed attempts at trying to stop can lead an individual to think that stopping is just not possible. That is why it is very important to get an individual who wants to stop into a facility that can help them be successful. There is no substitute for a trained medical professional.
  • Shame and Guilt – While coming through the fog of and sobering up, a lot of people start feeling emotions that were suppressed by the use of substances. A lot of times people are ashamed of their actions and feel like they have wronged everybody they love. The guilt of putting drugs and alcohol above their friends and families can sometimes make an individual feel that there is no hope for them because they have burned too many bridges. That is why positive reinforcement from family and staff plays a crucial part in getting someone through withdrawal.
  • Missing Family & Loved Ones (Especially children) – When an individual enrolls in an inpatient substance abuse treatment program, it means that they will be away from their loved ones for an extended period of time. This can lead to individuals missing their family and close friends to the point that it negatively affects their progress. There have been countless times where I have dealt with mothers during their withdrawal who claimed they needed to go home so they could be there for their kids. At times like these, I would have to remind them that they are doing this for their kids and that while on substances they weren’t really “there”. That being said, it is important to talk to someone who can explain how different treatment centers operate. If someone is a mother and/or very close with their family, it is important to find a center that allows visitation. These can provide much needed moral support and give them something to l look forward to during their initial withdrawal. This is not available at all treatment centers so ensure you speak with someone who can go over what these rules are because every treatment center operates differently.

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