Why do Withdrawals Happen?

Man with Withdrawals

Once you’ve made the decision to get clean and sober, depending on your substance of choice, you may experience significant withdrawals.  When you use drugs and alcohol more than recreationally, your body develops a physical dependence to them.  After a surprisingly short time, your body depends on these toxic substances in order to function, and will rebel if it doesn’t receive them.  Addiction is a powerful disease which takes over your entire life.  It controls your ability to think rationally and affects simple bodily functions.

There are two types of withdrawals that can happen when you stop taking drugs or alcohol.  The first to show are physical withdrawals, and can last several days to a few weeks.  Depending on the substance, the physical withdrawals can be quite painful.  The effects that occur from the discontinuation of opiates or alcohol can be severe, and potentially life threatening.  When your body adjusts to receiving a drug on a consistent basis, removing it can cause great shock.  Your organs have likely gotten used to the excess stress you put on them.  Physical withdrawals from drugs or alcohol can include increased blood pressure and heart rate, severe nausea, excruciating joint and muscle pain, and extreme sweating. 

The other type of withdrawals are emotional, which can be equally as painful, yet last months.  At the same time the body is developing a dependence, the brain is simultaneously becoming reliant upon the substance as well.  The brain adjusts to the chemicals received by altering the amount of neurotransmitters that are released.  Typically, the natural amount of dopamine is decreased because the drugs provide so much.  Therefore, discontinuing the substances can cause severe depression, anxiety, irritability, and confusion.  Those who suffer from addiction usually rely on drugs and alcohol to sleep, as well, so insomnia can occur for months in the beginning of sobriety.  

Treatment centers offer a wide variety of options, including medical detoxification.  Often times, a person’s withdrawals can be so painful they need medical intervention to get through them.  You may be severely dehydrated, yet so nauseated you can’t eat or drink.  A medical detox can provide the nourishment you’re lacking, which will help speed up the physical recovery process.  Certain drugs can cause such severe pain, and detox can help with pain management for those symptoms, should you need it.  Understanding that withdrawals will likely be painful and unavoidable is important, but the long-term benefits you will receive from a life of sobriety will be well worth it.

The answer to recovery is Simple. Our multi-tiered program is designed to help your loved one find success on a new path in life through school, work, and meaningful volunteering. Structured for progress, clients at Simple Recovery transition seamlessly through each phase of their recovery. Call us today for information: 888-743-0490