Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
What are the symptoms of opioid withdrawal?
Opioid withdrawal can be a challenging process that presents both physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on factors like the type of opioid used, the duration and intensity of use, individual health status, and genetic factors. Here are common symptoms that might be experienced during opioid withdrawal:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Restlessness and agitation
- Runny nose and teary eyes
- Excessive yawning
- Goosebumps (hence the term "cold turkey")
- Abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Intense cravings for opioids
These symptoms can begin as early as a few hours after the last dose of the opioid and typically peak within 72 hours, though they may persist for a week or more. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which are primarily psychological, can continue for weeks or even months.
It's important to note that while opioid withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, it is generally not life-threatening. However, complications like severe dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea can occur, which is why medical supervision is recommended during the withdrawal process. Furthermore, the risk of relapse is high during withdrawal, and using opioids again after a period of abstinence can lead to a potentially fatal overdose, as tolerance may have decreased.
What areas of the body are most effected by long term drug abuse?
Long-term drug abuse can have significant impacts on various systems and organs within the body. The specific effects can vary depending on the type of drug used, but here are some general areas that can be affected:
Brain: Drug abuse can change the brain's structure and function, leading to alterations in behavior, judgment, memory, decision-making, and even mental health. Chronic use can lead to neurological disorders and cognitive decline.
Heart: Many drugs put a significant strain on the cardiovascular system, leading to a range of heart-related issues. These can include increased heart rate, high blood pressure, damaged heart muscle, irregular heartbeat, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Liver: The liver plays a key role in metabolizing substances, including drugs. Chronic drug use can lead to a variety of liver conditions, such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver failure.
Lungs: Drugs that are smoked or inhaled can cause serious lung damage. This can lead to chronic bronchitis, emphysema, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases. Opioids can also slow breathing, potentially leading to hypoxia, a condition where not enough oxygen reaches the brain.
Kidneys: Certain drugs can lead to kidney damage and disease, including kidney failure. This can be caused by increased body temperature, breakdown of muscle tissue that clogs the kidneys, and direct kidney toxicity from the drugs themselves.
Digestive System: Drug use can also affect the digestive system, leading to nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and changes in appetite and metabolism. Some drugs can also cause significant damage to the stomach and intestines.
Skin: Certain drugs can also affect the skin, leading to conditions like acne, skin infections, or skin picking resulting in sores. Intravenous drug use can lead to collapsed veins and infections of the blood vessels and heart valves.
Immune System: Some drugs can weaken the immune system, making users more susceptible to infections, diseases, and certain types of cancer.
It's important to note that the specific health effects of drug abuse can vary depending on the individual, the drug(s) used, the frequency and duration of use, and other factors. Seeking professional help and treatment is crucial for mitigating the negative health consequences of drug abuse.
What will a rehab do to help me get through my withdrawal symptoms?
Rehabilitation centers use a combination of medical, psychological, and supportive care to help you manage and overcome withdrawal symptoms during the detoxification stage of recovery. Here's what you can expect:
Medical Supervision and Care: During withdrawal, you'll be under the constant care of medical professionals who monitor your vital signs and general health. This is crucial because withdrawal from certain substances can be life-threatening.
Medication-Assisted Treatment: Depending on the substance you're withdrawing from and the severity of your symptoms, the medical team may administer medications to alleviate discomfort and reduce cravings. For example, methadone or buprenorphine might be used for opioid withdrawal, while benzodiazepines might be used for alcohol withdrawal.
Psychological Support: Mental health professionals provide psychological support during withdrawal. This might include individual counseling, group therapy, or cognitive-behavioral techniques to help manage cravings and cope with the emotional stress of withdrawal.
Comfort Measures: Rehab centers often use comfort measures to help manage withdrawal symptoms. These might include a quiet and comfortable room to rest in, nutritional support, hydration, and complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, or yoga.
Preparation for Ongoing Treatment: Detox and withdrawal management are just the first steps in the recovery process. While helping you through withdrawal, staff at the rehab center will also be preparing you for the next phases of treatment, which may include therapy, medication management, and skill-building to maintain long-term sobriety.
Peer Support: Many rehab centers facilitate peer support groups, where you can share experiences and coping strategies with others who are going through a similar process.