How to Identify Someone That is Going Through Drug Withdrawal

The Effects on an Individual Going Through Drug Withdrawal

If you’re worried about someone that you know is going through drug withdrawal, it’s important to be aware of the physical signs that they’re experiencing. These signs can include chills, alternating hot and cold body temperatures, heavy sweating, trembling, changes in sleep patterns, mood swings, and dramatic shifts in energy levels. Additionally, addiction can cause compulsions for food or alcohol or changes in appetite. Overall physical weakness, nausea, and cramps can also be common. In some cases, addicts may even become unable to concentrate or think clearly, which could lead to dangerous decisions.

To help identify someone going through drug withdrawal, it’s important to pay attention to their overall behavior. For example, someone who is addicted may become paranoid or irritable as their brain chemistry starts to shift. Personality changes and/or behavior might also occur – such as an increase in risky behaviors or an unusual decrease in personal hygiene habits. Financial issues may arise. Furthermore, addicts lose interest in activities that used to bring them pleasure. All of these factors should be taken into account when trying to help a loved one through drug withdrawal.

What Exactly is Addiction?

Let’s take a look at addiction and how it comes about. Most people don’t start off doing something to get addicted on purpose. It is a simple process. Addiction, also known as dependence, occurs when a person finds it difficult to stop doing something that makes them happy. Addiction can be physical, psychological, or both.

Physical Addiction: When you stop using the addictive substance or engaging in the addictive behavior, withdrawal symptoms appear.

Phycological Addiction: When you believe you need the addictive substance or behavior to function, you have psychological addiction. You may believe you require the substance at times. For example, to socialize at a party or to unwind after work. Or you may think you need it all of the time. (1)

Many addicts lose control over their actions. They crave and seek alcohol, drugs, or other substances regardless of the consequences—even if it means losing their jobs, hurting their family, or destroying friendships. What is it about addiction that causes people to behave so destructively? And why is quitting so difficult?

How the Brain Functions Affect Addictions

Spending time with loved ones, maintaining a balanced diet, and regular exercise are some good habits that a healthy brain can enjoy. It achieves this by stimulating reward circuits in the brain, which in turn encourages desirable behavior. Furthermore, a healthy brain will quickly signal the body to respond with fear or alarm when danger is present.

However, when you become addicted to a substance, the normal hardwiring of beneficial brain processes can start to work against you. Drugs or alcohol can hijack your brain’s pleasure/reward circuits. This is how they hook you into wanting more and more. Addiction can also activate your emotional danger-sensing circuits. This can cause you to feel stressed and anxious, which then leads to using more alcohol or drugs to combat those feelings.

Furthermore, repeated drug use can harm the crucial decision-making center at the front of the brain. This region, known as the prefrontal cortex, should assist you in recognizing the dangers of using addictive substances. (2)

Facts on Addiction

There was a study done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in 2017. This study was to seek out what type of numbers we are looking at for addiction in our country. The findings are astonishing, to say the least. Let’s take a look at those now.

  • Co-occurring disorder affects 8.5 million American adults who have both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder.
  • One out of every eight adults struggled with both drug and alcohol abuse.
  • An estimated 38% of adults had an illicit drug use disorder.
  • Alcohol was the most abused substance among those studied, accounting for nearly 74%.
  • There were 19.7 million people aged 12 and up who struggled with substance abuse. (3)

This study shows that you are not alone when suffering from an addiction. While many people might feel alone, many others are suffering in silence.  

How Does Drug Addiction Develop?

Addiction is a serious problem that affects millions of Americans. It’s a complex problem that begins with stress and other environmental factors. These factors can trigger a cascade of events that lead to addiction. Here are four key causes of addiction:

1) Stress and other environmental factors: Exposure to stressors like poverty or abuse can disrupt the brain’s chemistry and lead to addiction.

2) Social influences, including those in vulnerable communities: People who grow up in communities with high levels of violence or poverty are at increased risk for developing an addiction. This is because they’re more likely to have been exposed to drugs at an early age and to have experienced mental health problems or trauma.

3) Genetic components: Some people are born with genes that make them more vulnerable to addiction.

4) Disruption of brain chemistry: Drug addiction can also be caused by changes in the levels of chemicals in the brain. For example, repeated drug use can damage nerve cells in the brain, leading to craving and dependency on drugs.

Signs And Symptoms Of Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms can be a difficult experience for anyone, but they can be even more challenging when trying to deal with them on your own. It can be hard to know the signs and symptoms of withdrawal, and it can be even harder to identify them in yourself. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for. 

Withdrawal symptoms are often accompanied by anxiety and mood changes. This is because withdrawal affects both mental and physical health simultaneously. Oftentimes, people will experience an intense craving for the substance that they’re withdrawing from. Additionally, physical illnesses such as headaches, aches, and pains may develop during withdrawal.

Physical withdrawals, such as aches, pains, and fever, and can get extreme such as vomiting and violent shaking, are very common in those that are withdrawing from various drugs. You may have mild symptoms such as tiredness, lack of interest, and depression as well. 

It is likely that the addict will experience both psychological and physical withdrawals at the same time. These could be anxiety, depression, and even feeling like you are not in control. The withdrawals can be mild to severe. However, it is important that if you are experiencing withdrawals, you are not alone. This can lead to panic and even overdosing in some cases. Discuss with your doctor about things you can do to lessen the effects of the withdrawals. In some cases, it might be best if you were in a drug rehab facility for the detoxing step of your journey. 

How Long do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Although withdrawal is only temporary, it can be unpleasant and uncomfortable. Everyone’s drug withdrawal timeline is unique. In general, the first symptoms appear within 24 hours of taking the drug, and withdrawal symptoms are most severe during the first 48 hours. Delirium tremens can occur 48 to 72 hours after you stop using the drug.

However, as your body adjusts to being without the drug. Your withdrawal symptoms will gradually improve with time. 7-10 days is the typical length of time needed to complete this process. 

Work With A Trusted Toxicology Expert

Keystone Laboratories, a CAP-accredited North Carolina licensed laboratory and CLIA-licensed lab, is committed to helping you make important decisions that impact the safety and health of your patients with greater confidence. Clients in 48 states can get prescription drug and substance abuse recovery monitoring, specialized testing, workplace drug testing, screening, and program management services from Keystone. Contact Keystone Laboratories today to receive the industry-leading laboratory testing services!

Drug Withdrawal
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