Millions of people have addictions in the U.S. Whether the drugs are legal or not, the chronic, progressive disease of addiction is ruining lives. Addicts may realize they have a problem, go through withdrawal, detox, and rehab, only to use again.
Detoxing from the most addictive drugs on earth can create physical and emotional pain that is difficult to handle. This is why so many will opt to seek addiction treatment. They need the guidance to cope with feelings that may have caused substance abuse. They need the help to stay clean.
There are many things that cause addiction for any given person. Drugs will change the structure of the brain which is why it’s considered a brain disease. Along with the mind being altered, there are physical issues at play.
It’s not easy to stop using the most addictive drugs on the planet. Detox is often important in a setting where the addict can be fully supported.
#1 Opiate Drugs
The family of drugs known as opiates are vast. Some are illegal, illicit drugs such as heroin. Some help heroin addicts from using but can also cause dependency such as methadone. There are prescription opioid pain killers that have caused an opioid epidemic in the U.S.
We consider heroin to be the most addictive drug on the planet. Studies show that even one dose of heroin can cause a user to get hooked. Almost 25% of people who try heroin just one time will become addicted. It causes euphoria and numbs all physical and emotional pain.
Heroin causes the dopamine receptors that are in charge of all the good feelings to become exhausted. When you’re not high, it creates intense withdrawal symptoms. The brain needs the heroin to feel good.
Prescription painkillers and drugs to help heroin users stop using have similar effects on the brain. They stimulate the brain’s reward center and elevate pleasure chemicals in the brain.
People will abuse those “harmless” opiates by crushing up tablets and snorting/injecting it. This cause them to create a similar high to heroin. Crushing these tablets eliminates the time release mechanism that is meant to prevent addiction risks.
What it Feels Like to Go Through Opiate Withdrawal
How dependant a person is on opiates will often depend on how they used it. A person’s mind and body will have a greater dependence if they inject it when compared to smoking opioids.
Opiates suppress the function of the central nervous system. The heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and temperature regulation will be effected. These effects will be felt as soon as the person stops using the opioid.
Again, opioid withdrawal symptoms will differ based on what kind of opioid is used, how it’s used and how reliant the person has become.
This may occur with prescription pain killers that haven’t been taken for long periods of time.
Mild withdrawal symptoms will include:
- Belly pain
- Runny nose
- Sweats and chills
- Muscles aches
Moderate opioid withdrawal symptoms from OxyContin recreational use can cause:
- Problems with concentration
- Goose bumps
Severe withdrawal symptoms from opioids often occur when someone has been using heroin intravenously. When they withdraw, they will experience:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Deep depression
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle spasms
- Inability to feel pleasure
- Drug cravings
Ways to Manage Opiate Withdrawal
The hardest opiate detox will be removing heroin from the body. Withdrawal peaks after a few days of the last dose. This is why it’s suggested a heroin addict is admitted into an addiction treatment program. It is the most comfortable way to get past the urges and symptoms of heroin withdrawal.
In a clinical setting, medical detox will occur before heroin leaves the system. This takes from 1 week to 10 days. There are a wide variety of medications to help fight the opioid addiction.
Methadone may be used as a means of minimizing heroin withdrawal. It is a tapering method which should also prevent any dependence on methadone itself. It will keep the body from rapid withdrawal symptoms.
Buprenorphine is another medicine that can help an addict get past opioid addiction. It is a partial opioid agonist so it hits a plateau. There is no real feeling of a high so the abuse potential is reduced.
Naloxone blocks opioid receptors so users won’t get the euphoric feeling they’re dependent on. Rapid withdrawal symptoms will occur when naloxone is activated. Naltrexone is another opioid antagonist, blocking opioid receptors. It is used for long-term maintenance.
Amphetamines are a stimulant for the central nervous system. They are used in a variety of prescription drugs to help patients with emotional and physical disorders. Adderall© is one of the drugs that contains amphetamines, and is commonly prescribed for adults and children who have ADHD. They will also be given to patients for narcolepsy, used as an anti-depressant, or for obesity.
Amphetamines can be abused or used for ‘off-label’ purposes. Patients may enjoy the mood and confidence boost enough that it can cause psychological dependence. Long-term use can cause chemical changes in the brain. This creates a dependency and overuse can create strong addiction.
What it Feels Like to Go Through Amphetamines Withdrawal
Withdrawing from amphetamines can cause acute feelings that are physically and emotionally uncomfortable. As many patients will take the drug to improve their mood or help them to feel confidence, abstaining can create the opposite effect.
Dopamine are neurotransmitters in the brain that allow us to feel pleasure. We can experience this naturally but amphetamines create dopamine surges. The brain will quickly stop raising dopamine levels on its own, relying on the medication to do the job.
Basically, your brain doesn’t function properly anymore without the drug. Once the drug leaves the blood, withdrawal symptoms will begin. The symptoms will be physical and psychological and can feel quite intense.
How amphetamines are used will define how challenging the withdrawal is. If the user is snorting or injecting the drug, they become more dependent.
Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms set in quickly and can include:
- An increase of appetite.
- Loss of ability to feel pleasure.
Ways to Manage Amphetamines Withdrawal
The FDA hasn’t approved any medical treatments for amphetamine withdrawal. Medical staff may prescribe medication to manage some symptoms however. Antidepressants can help the person feel less depressed and less likely to commit suicide for example.
Supervised detox at an addiction facility can help in the management of initial amphetamine withdrawal. The person gets medical care and the support they need through the acute withdrawal pangs.
The first days are the most challenging for someone withdrawing from amphetamines because the body is readjusting. There may be serious side effects that can cause danger to the addict or others around them. This include hallucinations where the person isn’t functioning properly, potentially causing danger to themselves and others.
The detox should really only take a week as the physical withdrawal symptoms will subside. It’s the psychological side effects that may linger and also requires the addicts’ attention.
#3 Methamphetamines (Crystal Meth)
Methamphetamines are a powerful, stimulant that affect the CNS in the same way amphetamines do. It is extremely addictive and has street names such as meth, ice, and crystal. It comes in a crystal form that is odorless and bitter-tasting.
It derives from its parent drug, amphetamine, originally used in cold medications. It decreases appetite and gives the user a feeling of euphoria much like amphetamines do. Meth is different however. If you took similar doses, a greater amount of meth will reach and affect the central nervous system. This creates a higher potential of abuse and addiction.
Meth is a street drug with discontinued use over the counter because of its abuse and dependence risks. The methamphetamine withdrawal is intense because the effects of the drug are so strong. The effects are so strong, it increases the user’s metabolism and heart rate.
What It Feels Like to Go Through Methamphetamine Withdrawal
Crystal meth can be compared to cocaine, having an effect on dopamine levels. Your brain will feel like it needs more of a dopamine lift all the time. The brain stops creating dopamine naturally. When a person quits, they will feel a severe sense of sadness. They may completely break down mentally and physically.
Feelings of psychosis, hallucinations, and memory loss may occur when going through meth withdrawal. They may even become suicidal. Methamphetamines can be smoked, snorted, or injected and is said to be one of the hardest drugs to withdraw from. This is especially true if someone has been injecting it. The higher the effects, the greater the dependency.
It takes between 7 to 10 days to withdraw from meth. Although cravings and mood disorders may continue after, the painful physical withdrawal symptoms will have dissipated. Insomnia may occur for the first month. Most addicts will begin to feel better after 30 days after abstaining from meth.
Ways to Manage Methamphetamines Withdrawal
Going through methamphetamine withdrawal at home is not recommended. The intense symptoms can cause harm to the person or others and it’s extremely challenging to abstain. Being admitted into a detox program allows the user to feel supported.
Through methamphetamines withdrawal, the patient will be given medication if necessary. Once stabilized, clinician staff will adjust treatments. Another important aspect of professional detox is the advice of what to do next. The transition after detox is an important part of full recovery.
There are no medications that are designed to help someone going through meth withdrawal. Some “off-label” medications are used to help with the process. Bupropion is an antidepressant that seems to reduce meth cravings. Other drugs help with the excessive sleepiness or panic attacks that may occur through meth withdrawal.
Benzos are often prescribed for those with insomnia, anxiety, or seizures. They are a depressant that binds to the brain’s GABA and neurotransmitter receptors. The drug will reduce how much activity occurs with neurons in the brain. This relaxes nervousness and muscles, helping to reduce spams.
They are useful in the medical industry but they are also excessively abused. This abuse can easily lead to addiction.
Tolerance builds quickly physically and physiologically, quickly causing addiction. People will need to keep taking more to achieve the same effect as when they began using it.
What it Feels Like to Go Through Benzodiazepines Withdrawal
When someone abstains from benzos, they will become tense and irritable. The psychological dependence occurs because the drug prevented stress from being felt. Once the feelings of anxiety begin to come back, they may become extremely stressed.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be dangerous for the user. They may experience panic attacks and intense levels of symptoms. These include:
- Inability to sleep.
- Heavy sweating.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Increase in heart rate.
- Potential for seizures.
Ways to Manage Benzodiazepines Withdrawal
As the symptoms are physical and psychological, professional medical detox is advised. Most of the treatment programs will include tapering-off benzos safely. Doses will be lowered gradually instead of shocking the system with immediate abstinence.
Through the tapering-off phase, benzos like Valium or Klonopin are used. They are long-lasting forms of the drug that are less potent than others. It helps keep the benzodiazepine withdrawal to a minimum while doses are reduced.
The initial benzodiazepine withdrawal will take about one week. Months of supervised care may be advised to go from the tapering-off period to complete abstinence. There may be supporting drugs and alternatives to help treat the patient with the anxiety that caused benzo use in the first place.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse defines alcoholism as a chronic, progressive disease that’s incurable. It happens when you use it so often that you lose control over it. Alcohol is the most abused substance in the U.S. There are over 17 million people in the U.S. that are alcoholics.
Alcohol is so addictive because the ethanol causes chemical reactions in the brain. Those reactions are what people become addicted to. It doesn’t take long for someone abusing alcohol to need the substance in order to feel normal.
Alcohol effects the GABA and neurotransmitters in the brain. Alcohol causes the brain to relax and long-term use of alcohol changes how inhibited a person is. As the brain continues to adjust to the alcohol consumption, it causes a tolerance. This means the person drinks more to get the original effects of alcohol.
Dopamine and endorphin levels are also affected by alcohol. Once alcoholism has set in, the brain alone is incapable of creating happiness for the person. Happiness can only come from having alcohol in the system.
What it feels Like to Go through Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms happen quickly if someone has alcoholism. It can be as soon as two hours since the person last drank. The symptoms can continue on for weeks and addicts are at risk of complications.
Delirium tremens or seizures can occur when a heavy, long-term drinker abstains from drinking cold turkey. At the very least, the alcoholic will experience anxiety, nausea, pain in the gut, and an inability to sleep.
The next stage of alcohol withdrawal will include an increase in blood pressure and body temperature. The heart rate may change, and confusion may occur. The final stage of alcohol withdrawal will begin after about three days of abstinence. There is the possibility of seeing things that aren’t there, fever, seizures, and agitation.
Most of the alcohol withdrawal symptoms should decrease in about a week. During the first week of withdrawal, it is recommended that medical detox take place. Alcohol withdrawal comes with the most dangerous side effects than any other addictive substance.
Ways to Manage Alcohol Withdrawal
One of the main reasons alcohol detox should be supervised by medical professionals is due to the risk of Delirium tremens (DT). They may begin a day or two after the alcohol has left the bloodstream. It can happen without warning and can cause death.
For alcohol withdrawal to be done safely, the patient should have their physical symptoms monitored. They should go through medical detox that helps treat alcoholic withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines will often be used to taper the person off alcohol. Benzos keep the central nervous system from overeacting and causing DT.
Alcohol detox may include disulfiram, naltrexone and acamprosate. These medications have been FDA approved to assist in alcohol withdrawal. They work to manage the symptoms as well as discouraging alcoholics from drinking again. Drinking becomes undesirable with naltrexone and disulfiram while acamprosate works on long-term withdrawal symptoms.
Medications may be administered to manage the depression and potential suicidal thoughts an alcoholic may have through withdrawal. Alcoholics have likely suffered from malnutrition which makes it more challenging to deal with alcohol withdrawal. Through use of nutritional supplements and a healthy diet, it can help ease the side effects.
Cocaine is considered to be the second most addictive drug in the world. It’s a stimulant that comes with dangerous side effects. An extremely deadly drug, it can cause the heart to beat rapidly and increase blood pressure quickly also. It comes in powder form or as a rock crystal which is known as crack cocaine.
When the user takes cocaine, they will experience a quick onset of energy and euphoria for a short amount of time. The onset of the high is almost instant and lasts for about 30 minutes. It’s not only deadly but it’s also highly addictive.
It has a short half-life and due to its method of action, it makes someone dependent on it quickly. There will be a steady stream of dopamine in the brain when the cocaine is active. This shuts down the brains dopamine receptors and as soon as withdrawal kicks in, the brain will crave the dopamine. This is what can cause someone to use for days at a time.
What it feels Like to Go through Cocaine Withdrawal
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can occur when you’re addicted or just stopped heavy use. The first thing a cocaine user will experience when they abstain is the cocaine crash. It can last for a few hours or a few days. Usually, for the experimenter, the symptoms will last for up to 24 hours.
Cocaine gives the user great pleasure and when the high ends, cocaine takes all that pleasure away, plus some. The crash feels terrible but it’s the body’s method of maintaining balance. The user may feel high depressed, anxious, and irritable. The feelings can be quite intense.
Users may have an increased appetite but food doesn’t give them energy if they do eat. They become physically slow with no mental or physical energy.
Ways to Manage Cocaine Withdrawal
As the dependency can build quickly with cocaine, withdrawal symptoms are intense. This is why some users may choose to seek professional help.
While there is no medication that helps ease withdrawal symptoms, it is suggested that users get treated for psychological symptoms. This means behavioral therapy or counseling.
As cocaine is so addictive, the user may opt to attend inpatient treatment for some time. This keeps them from using through the challenging withdrawal. They can also learn more about addiction and why they began using in the first place.
Managing what each drug will do on a mental, physical, and emotional level is key to prevent relapse. The extreme addictive qualities of some of the drugs can cause negative ramifications for users. All too quickly, they realize that they’ve fallen into addiction.
Detoxing from any drug will differ but the first step is the same. Admitting that the problem is there will have to occur before any healing can progress.