Withdrawal management is defined as the medical and psychological treatment of individuals who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms as they seek to reduce or cease dependence on a given drug. Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely painful and can be a major impediment to recovery.

substance abuse treatment program Carbondale IL offers is an important tool to help patients successfully recover and become drug-free.

Withdrawal Management

young man in need of withdrawal management programLong term drug use and addiction cause the body to acclimate to the drug. Over time, substances such as alcohol or opioids produce physiological changes to the human body, increasing or decreasing the production of neurotransmitters to counteract the effects of the drug.

As the addict attempts to wean off the drug, the body feels the effects of the changed state. The body’s altered state without the drugs is what produces the withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal management is the process of helping the addict and the body to deal with the withdrawal symptoms physically and mentally.

Withdrawal symptoms have both a mental and a physical component. The exact set of symptoms depends on the drug.

Common mental withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Cognitive issues such as a lack of concentration or poor memory.

Common physical symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing and chest pain
  • Racing heart or palpitations
  • Nausea, vomiting and stomach aches
  • Muscle aches, tremors, “the shakes”
  • Sweating and tingling

Alcohol dependency and withdrawal is a prime example of how the body becomes dependent on a drug and how the withdrawal symptoms occur. Alcohol is a depressant and over time decreases the level of neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter which increases arousal, alertness, and the fight or flight response.

As an addict attempts to reduce their alcohol intake or end it altogether, the body feels the effects of the reduced noradrenaline and attempts to compensate by flooding the body with adrenaline, which produces many of the withdrawal symptoms, such as sweating, and heart palpitations.

In some cases, dangerous or even deadly withdrawal symptoms may occur, including:

  • Seizures
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens – a sudden and severe onset of symptoms including confusion, tremors, and sweating

How Withdrawal Management Works

The process of a withdrawal management program may involve both clinical and psychological support, to help reduce the withdrawal symptoms to a more manageable level. The clinical support may involve administering drugs such as methadone for opioid addiction or benzodiazepines for alcohol addiction.

Benzodiazepine, for example, is a central nervous system depressant, much like alcohol. In some cases, a tapering process will be used, where the patient is given ever-decreasing doses of benzodiazepine instead of alcohol. This helps to reduce the withdrawal symptoms while giving the body a chance to acclimate over time.

Psychological support in a withdrawal management program may involve counseling, either in groups or individually, to help the patient learn new coping mechanism and reduce the risk of sliding back into addiction.

When to Seek Help at Gateway Foundation Carbondale 

Although it may be possible to quit drugs or alcohol “cold turkey”, professional support and withdrawal management is highly recommended. If you have been suffering from long term addiction to drugs or alcohol, it may be very dangerous to try and quit on your own.

If you are ready to quit, Gateway Foundation Carbondale can help. We offer individualized substance abuse treatment programs to meet your unique requirements, including withdrawal management support. We have over 50 years’ experience helping people recover from drug and alcohol abuse. We’ve helped more than 1 million people achieve their long-term recovery goals. Contact Gateway Foundation Carbondale at 618.529.1151 today.