Drugs and alcohol change the brain’s chemical composition, and constant use of mind-altering substances like benzodiazepines and opioids can lead to dependence. When such dependence is formed, and you decide to quit, your brain circuit and chemistry attempt to regulate the resultant chemical changes and absence, which results in a withdrawal syndrome.
Typically, the duration, intensity, and type of withdrawal symptoms vary based on the form of abuse, dependence level, and existing co-occurring disorders in the body. A few substances like opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines can be greatly unpleasant and lethal when stopped, also termed “cold turkey.” However, there are strategies to help in overcoming withdrawal symptoms.
What is withdrawal?
Also known as detox or detoxification, withdrawal refers to the period of abstaining from drug or alcohol use. This period is often associated with a combination of physical and mental effects, and the symptoms you’ll experience mainly depend on the state of your health, age, withdrawal method, how long you have been using the drugs, psychological characteristics, etc. So, what causes withdrawal exactly?
In simple terms, your body becomes accustomed to drugs after a certain amount of time taking them, to the point that you could develop a dependency, like requiring them to feel relaxed. Withdrawal symptoms start showing up once you stop the substance use suddenly or abruptly or cut down on your use drastically after becoming dependent.
You can experience various withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, difficulty sleeping, weakness, profuse sweating, rash, loss or increased appetite, and body aches. Withdrawal is generally unpleasant and potentially dangerous in some cases.
Strategies for overcoming withdrawal symptoms
Anyone struggling with breaking a dependency or overcoming addiction will benefit from a strategic approach. When the body has adapted to the use of a substance or anything addictive in nature, it takes more mindful and targeted efforts to combat natural resistance once that addiction is no longer available. Get started on your journey to regression, by considering the actionable strategies below.
Get professional support
Withdrawal symptoms can be physical and emotional and sometimes dangerous without proper treatment. For example, according to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), 3-5 percent of people suffering from alcohol withdrawal experience delirium tremens (DTs), a life-threatening form of alcohol withdrawal.
Hence, rather than taking it upon yourself, the best way to deal with withdrawal symptoms is to consult a professional. They have handled similar cases and are in a position to offer the best support. In addition, they might be able to tell you about the ideal treatment options, like a detox program in a detox rehab in Massachusetts that provides around-the-clock supervision and medical management for withdrawal.
Stick to healthy diet
Drugs and alcohol deplete the body of resources it needs to run efficiently. Hence, a diet rich in essential vitamins, proteins, and nutrients is essential to help restore healthy brain and body functioning. Avoid caffeine, processed food oils, refined sugars, and saturated fats. It is also helpful to take supplements to replenish vitamins.
When alcohol metabolizes in your body, it turns into sugar. Hence, your body is used to a lot of sugar. Eat healthy fruits and vegetables to balance the sugar levels your body is used to.
A healthy diet heals your body and brain, reduces your cravings, and boosts self-image and self-care.
Drink plenty of fluids
Dehydration and nausea are common occurrences during withdrawal. Therefore, it is essential to drink a lot of fluids, particularly those rich in electrolytes, that will help address these symptoms. Sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium are electrolytes commonly found in sports drinks. So, consider taking them to help your body hydrate itself.
However, water is always the best option. It offers countless benefits to your body, alongside facilitating mental clarity, building more energy, and improving oxygen flow around the body. Also, consider foods with a high proportion of water.
Start a new hobby
Do you have a hobby you’ll like to consider? Or, do you have an old one that will not cause a relapse in your health? Then, it’s time to get yourself involved!
When you withdraw from your addiction, you will find more time on your hands. You might even be shocked at how much time you spent drinking alcohol, using drugs, obtaining it, and recovering from its usage.
It is always an ideal option to invest your time and energy into something productive and fulfilling.
Consider mild exercises
While you might not feel like indulging in physical activities during withdrawal, mild exercise is one of the best ways to cope with withdrawal symptoms. Healthy amounts of exercise release endorphins into your brain, restoring the chemical balance.
Additionally, exercise can reduce tension and stress, improve blood circulation and heart rate, improve your mood, help you sleep better, and make you feel stronger. Finally, it is good for your self-confidence and recovery.
The key to addressing withdrawal
One thing you should remember when going through withdrawal is to lean in. When you are in pain, don’t find ways to numb it or make it go away. Instead, lean in and stand against your addiction. Getting sober is challenging. So, own the pain of withdrawal, wear it like a badge of honor and overcome what has held you back.