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Drug Withdrawal Stages

Drug withdrawal stages most often refer to the wide range of symptoms that occur upon the abrupt discontinuation of a chemical that the body has become accustomed to. Physical drug withdrawal stages occur because the body has become metabolically adapted to a particular chemical substance. Drug withdrawal symptoms can range from mild discomfort that is similar to having a bout with the flu to severe withdrawal symptoms that could possibly be life threatening.

Drug withdrawal stages occur because when it comes to addiction, the brain acts like a spring; thus, drugs and alcohol are brain depressants that act to push this spring down. The chronic abuse of drugs and alcohol will suppress the brain's normal production of neurotransmitters. When an individual abruptly stops using a drug that the body is accustomed to, it is like taking the weight off of the spring; it is at this point, that an individual's brain will rebound and begin to produce a surge of adrenaline that causes drug withdrawal symptoms.

Although drug withdrawal stages are often associated with the abuse of recreational drugs, all different types of chemicals that are abused for long periods of time can have a profound effect on the user when stopped. When drug withdrawal symptoms occur as a result of the abuse of any type of medication, it could possibly be harmful or even fatal. Every type of drug is different; some drugs, such as alcohol and tranquilizers will produce more severe physical drug withdrawal stages; other types of drugs, such as ecstasy and marijuana, will produce milder physical drug withdrawal stages, but many more emotional withdrawal symptoms.

Drug withdrawal stages are the result of the sustained use of a drug, causing adaptations within the body that tends to lessen the drug's original effects over time; this phenomenon is commonly referred to as drug tolerance. At this point, a person is said to have a physical dependency on the chemical; thus, drug withdrawal symptoms may be experienced upon discontinuation of the substance. Some of these symptoms represent the opposite of the drug's direct effect on the body. Depending on the length of time that a drug takes to leave the bloodstream, drug withdrawal stages can begin to manifest within a few hours to several days after discontinuation; additionally, some withdrawal symptoms will occur in the form of strong cravings.

Drug withdrawal stages will begin to manifest after an individual has become addicted to a drug; it is at this point that the person will to experience uncomfortable physical symptoms when it is no longer present in the body. Drug withdrawal symptoms can best be managed during a professionally supervised detox in the context of a long term drug rehabilitation program. Withdrawal symptoms can last for several weeks, or in some instances, drug withdrawal stages can last substantially longer, depending on the drug that was abused and the length of the drug or alcohol addiction problem.

Drug withdrawal stages will vary, because of the vast amount of different types of drugs that exists; thus, there are hundreds of different symptoms that an individual may experience when a drug that has been abused is no longer present in the system. When an addict is going through the various drug withdrawal stages, they may begin to experience uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating drug withdrawal symptoms. Going through withdrawal can be an extremely uncomfortable process, and in the case of severe long term addiction, it could potentially be life threatening. There a two distinctly different types of drug withdrawal symptoms-physical and emotional.

Drug withdrawal stages will commonly range from mild to extreme, but some of the accompanying drug withdrawal symptoms could be deadly. In the case of mild drug withdrawal stages, an individual may experience symptoms such as nausea, headaches, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, tremors, and insomnia. More serious drug withdrawal symptoms will often include, but are not limited to, heavy sweating, fever, respiratory distress, heart palpitations, rapid pulse rate and hallucinations. When an individual is going through the various different drug withdrawal stages, they may begin to experience dangerous physical symptoms, such as difficulty walking, confusion and in rare instances; the person may begin to have seizures.

An addict that is going through initial drug withdrawal stages will gradually begin to feel worse and worse, until they eventually reach a plateau; it is at this point that the withdrawal symptoms should slowly begin to dissipate. Because some drug withdrawal stages could potentially be life threatening, an individual should only undergo the detox and withdrawal process under the watchful eye of caring professionals at a quality drug rehabilitation facility.

The trained staff at a quality detox facility will have many helpful tools that they can utilize in order to help to ease the discomfort that an individual may experience during the various drug withdrawal stages. Many drug treatment centers will offer counseling to an individual that is going through the various drug withdrawal stages that accompany the detox process. Counseling a person during this sometimes painful process, can be an effective tool that helps to manage an individual's drug withdrawal symptoms.

Getting through the various drug withdrawal stages is an important part of the treatment and drug recovery process. If a person experiences constant discomfort, it can be extremely difficult for them to continue to move forward in the drug recovery process. Trained detox professionals at a quality drug rehab center can design a personalized treatment plan to help ease the severity of the drug withdrawal stages, which will allow the patient to return to a more healthy state.

The drug withdrawal stages for certain types of drugs, such as alcohol and tranquilizers, can produce the most dangerous physical symptoms; thus, the abrupt discontinuation of these chemicals could be extremely dangerous. A medically supervised detox process can help to minimize an individual's drug withdrawal symptoms, ultimately reducing the risk of many dangerous health complications. Some of the most dangerous alcohol and tranquillizer drug withdrawal symptoms may include grand mal seizures, heart attacks, strokes, delirium tremens, auditory and visual hallucinations, and death.

There are two primary drug withdrawal stages; the beginning stages of the detox is most commonly called the acute stage, which has been reported to often lasts for up to several weeks. While in this stage, an individual is likely to experience a wide-array of physical drug withdrawal symptoms. The second drug withdrawal stage is most commonly referred to as the Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). In this final detox stage, an individual is likely to have less physical drug withdrawal symptoms, but may experience a much greater degree of psychological and emotional symptoms.

The drug withdrawal stages that are commonly referred to as post-acute symptoms will occur because an individual's brain chemistry is gradually returning to normal. As this process begins to take place, the levels of brain chemicals will fluctuate, causing post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Most addicts that are going through the various drug withdrawal stages will begin to experience some withdrawal symptoms that are post-acute. In the acute withdrawal stage, most individuals will experience a host of different symptoms, in post-acute withdrawal the large majority of people will have the same types of symptoms.

The most common post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) may include but are not limited to:

  • Chronic mood swings
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Being extremely tired and lethargic
  • Depressive episodes
  • Low enthusiasm
  • Being unable to concentrate for long periods of time
  • Disturbed sleep patterns

The drug withdrawal stages that include post-acute symptoms may make an individual feel like he is riding an emotional roller coaster, as many of their symptoms will change from minute to minute. During the final drug withdrawal stages, as an individual recovers further, post-acute symptoms may disappear for a several weeks, only to return again. As a person continues in their drug recovery by going through the various drug withdrawal stages, the stretches of time without experiencing post-acute symptoms, will become longer and longer.

Each post-acute withdrawal episode can last for several minutes, or for up to a several days. Once an individual has gone through the various drug withdrawal stages and has been in recovery for awhile, they will find that post-acute withdrawal symptoms will gradually begin to diminish. Individuals that are going through post-acute episodes will not normally point to specific drug triggers as the related cause. Most people who have experienced a post-acute episode have reported that upon waking they often felt sluggish and irritable, and many have indicated that the related withdrawal symptoms would leave just as quickly as they came. After a while, a person that is going through these final drug withdrawal stages will develop confidence that they can get through post-acute withdrawal (PAWS), because they will come to know that each episode is time limited.

Listed below are some of the most common drugs and the associated drug withdrawal stages:

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms - Alcohol is reported to be one of the most commonly abused legal drugs that exist. The drug withdrawal stages that are related to alcohol can begin to occur within 48 hours of the last drink; these symptoms may be manifested in the form of slurry speech, hallucinations, tremors and seizures. For the person who is severely addicted to alcohol, one of the most serious drug withdrawal stages could include a condition known as Delirium Tremens (DTs); although quality treatment professionals can help to alleviate some of the symptoms that are related to DT's, there is no known medical treatment that can stop these symptoms completely.

Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms - According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), millions of people throughout the United States have reported using marijuana on a regular basis. Marijuana acts on the central nervous system (CNS), often times causing a euphoric effect; thus the various drug withdrawal stages that are related to the discontinuation of this drug may include anxiety, irritability and extreme agitation.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms - People who use benzodiazepines such as alprazolam and diazepam will usually build up a tolerance by six months of use, according to research that was conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center. The various drug withdrawal stages that are commonly related to the discontinuation of benzodiazepines can include abdominal pains and twitching; additionally, when a person is withdrawing from benzodiazepines, their cognitive functions can also be affected. Other, less common, but much more severe benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can include psychosis, delirium, severe confusion and seizures; it is important to note that these types of severe symptoms are not likely to occur with a gradual reduction in dosage.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms - Cocaine gives the user a euphoric feeling, but some of the associated drug withdrawal phases can cause a person to "crash," upon the abrupt discontinuation of the drug. Various other types of cocaine withdrawal symptoms that an individual can experience may include an intense craving for the drug, fatigue, depression, agitation, increased appetite, paranoia and bad dreams.

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms - The National Institute on Health has recently reported that over ten percent of the population misuses opiates, which includes methadone, morphine and codeine. Drug withdrawal symptoms that are reported during the drug withdrawal phases that are related to opiates can start within as little as 12 hours. Opiate withdrawal symptoms have often been reported to include insomnia, agitation, sweating, anxiety, and muscle-aches. As the drug withdrawal phases begin to progress, the person who is withdrawing from opiates may exhibit withdrawal symptoms that include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dilated pupils, chills and cramps.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms - Symptoms can start in as little as 4 hours after the last dose of heroin has been administered. The various drug withdrawal phases that are related to heroin are reported to peak during the first seventy-two hours from the last hit and then begin to recede after a week or so. Symptoms often been reported to include stomach cramps, fever, dilated pupils, loss of appetite, chills, diarrhea, vomiting, irritability, runny nose and muscle cramps.

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