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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Post-acute withdrawal

Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Originally Posted @ NewBridge Recovery Blog

Stopping using drugs and alcohol is a life changing event. Working at an outpatient treatment center I have the benefit of talking to people who call and want to get sober. Many of them do not know about detox and others think it unnecessary. Another portion of patients are eager to find relief from the pains of withdrawals that detox can offer. Some patients don’t really require a medical detox. However, the reality is that most incoming patients need a medically assisted detox, whether they agree or not. Depending on the type of drug, withdrawals can be miserable, dangerous, and even fatal. Discover what type of drug/alcohol abuse demands a medical detox, like the services offered here at NewBridge.

The Dangers of Withdrawals

The level of danger of going through unassisted withdrawals varies with drug type. The symptoms of withdrawals and the negative effects produced also differ. Although typically not life-threating, one of the most painful and excruciating withdrawals is from opiates. Heroin and opiate users who stop using these drugs will experience a massive absence of dopamine, resulting in both physical and mental side-effects. Withdrawals from opiates has been described as flu-like symptoms, with vomiting, fever, shakes, and sweating.
The opiate user will also experience hopelessness, numbness, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. Drugs like cocaine and meth have less obvious withdrawal effects. Users often report feelings of fatigue and apathy, although it goes away quickly. The danger with withdrawal from stimulants is minimal. The more dangerous drugs to withdrawal from are benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and alcohol. These drugs can even result in seizures and death if stopped without medical detox. These class of drugs,
depressants, all work to slow down the central nervous system and GABA activity. This is why these drugs cause feelings of relaxation and drowsiness. When these drugs are stopped, the brain responds by rapidly increasing the activity in the central nervous system. Due to the deficiency of activity from abuse of depressants, the brain overstimulates without these drugs. The effects are shakes, anxiety, and more. The real risk of withdrawals from these type of drugs is the danger of having a seizure. By increasing activity in the brain to dangerous levels, the person is at risk of having a seizure and death. Getting medical detox for these drugs is of high importance. The quantity of substance abused and the frequency of use is an important consideration, but with depressants it is better to play it safe. Many alcoholics do not feel they need detox. However, if they have been daily drinkers for even a month, then their body will be at serious risk of seizures quitting alcohol. Binge drinkers are not at as much of a risk for seizures, but caution should be used.

 

Benefits of Detox

Detox programs, like those at NewBridge Recovery, offer the person quitting drugs and alcohol a wide range of benefits. First, detox offers the person the relief of physical withdrawal effects. By offering medical assistance and tapering from the drugs, the person is relieved of the awful side-effects of quitting drugs/alcohol. Also the mental stress, such as anxiety, depression, apathy, are lessened when detoxed medically. At NewBridge we give our patients medication to reduce anxiety and mental stress of withdrawals. Our patients are monitored and treated if any physical or mental problem arise during the crucial detox period. The chance of giving up and returning to using drugs or alcohol is very high without detox. The physical and mental pain becomes too great and the person seeks relief in drugs/alcohol. At NewBridge we seek to reduce relapse during detox by making our patients as pain-free and comfortable as possible. Results show that people who undergo a medical detox have a greater start on getting sober. Perhaps the most important benefit is the reduction of risk and fatality provided by medical detox. With a full-time nurse and two resident doctors, NewBridge is available to assist our patients in the case of medical emergency and also to prevent such a crisis from occurring. If you are considering stopping drugs or alcohol, please consult with NewBridge or another detox center before going ‘cold-turkey’. Outpatient service offer other benefits to someone trying to someone struggling with addiction.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

Where’s That Pink Cloud When You Need It? Understanding and Managing Post-Acute Withdrawal

pink cloud

When I was in training, more years ago than I care to count, my mentors warned me not to float away on the “pink cloud” likely to envelop patients in the early stages of  recovery from substance use disorders.  I was told  that   the initial rockiness of stopping alcohol and/or other psychoactive drugs is often followed by feelings of elation and  great expectations for the future.  In this irrationally exuberant state, recovery can feel essentially effortless and treatment activities may seem like an unnecessary  waste of  precious time.  The danger, of course, is that  abandoning these activities leaves one  defenseless when the pink cloud vaporizes.  At some point,  the hard work of sustaining sobriety in the face of the wreckage wrought by addiction  seems daunting if not overwhelming,  and those who are going it alone and who  fail to  anticipate the transience and fragility of the pink cloud experience often take it hard when their mood darkens,  and  are vulnerable to relapse.

Clinical experience has taught me that some people do pass through a pink cloud after negotiating the acute withdrawal phase of recovery,  but I’ve also learned that the  first year(s) of recovery  are a jarring and complex mix of  emotional highs and lows for most people.  And I’ve found that  some people never catch a  glimpse of the pink cloud in the early going.  They  just feel chronically down,  out, scared and  hopeless for months on end.

Today, the treatment and recovery communities offer  more detailed guidance to practitioners, recovering individuals and family members about the array of difficult and highly individual challenges people face during the first months and years of abstinence from alcohol and drugs. And they caution that it can take a good deal of time  for mood, thinking and behavior to improve and stabilize. Terms likes “Protracted Withdrawal” and  “Post-acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) are used to describe the psychological and physiological phenomena that can destabilize and derail people in recovery  for an extended period after drug and alcohol use end.

For example,  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMSHA) warns thatlow feelings are to be expected for most people in early recovery and that protracted withdrawal may persist for “weeks, months, and sometimes years”.  In a 2010 Advisory SAMSHA explained that:

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