Alcohol and drug withdrawal is the set of symptoms experienced when someone stops consuming alcohol or drugs. Depending on the substance in question and extent of dependence, symptoms may be either physical or psychological in nature. Alcohol and drug withdrawal is often managed at specialized drug treatment centers, with a detox period typically followed by medication treatment and behavioral therapy.
Alcohol and drug withdrawal is a set of physical-somatic and emotional-motivational symptoms that occur when someone stops or decreases the intake of drugs of alcohol. The withdrawal experience is also referred to as detox, with formal detoxification programs often used to help people get clean and sober. In order to experience a withdrawal syndrome, someone must have developed a physical or mental dependence to a particular substance. Drugs like heroin, alcohol and benzodiazepines are associated with a physical withdrawal syndrome, with other drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine having more of a psychological effect.
Cannabis has a range of psychological and physiological effects on the human body, with cannabis dependence leading to a withdrawal period in some cases. Although they are not medically serious, cannabis withdrawal symptoms can cause a range of adverse effects. Typical symptoms include anxiety, irritability, depression, restlessness, disturbed sleeping patterns and decreased appetite. While cannabis withdrawal does not require an extensive detoxification regime, some users do require medical supervision in order to cease consumption of the drug. Long-term marijuana use produces pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic changes to the body, with detox used to address these changes and behavioral therapy used to address the precedents of dependence.
The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome includes a range of physical and psychological symptoms, with physical dependence often treated through a medical detox program. Possible withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, sweating, memory problems, sleeping problems, confusion, hand tremors, headaches, muscular pain and weight loss. Additional symptoms may be experienced in severe cases, with seizures, hallucinations, psychosis and suicide all possible outcomes for benzodiazepine addicts. Withdrawal symptoms are likely to remain while the body reverses physiological adaptations, with drug treatment clinics often using medication to alleviate symptoms and encourage the recovery process.
Opioids are a class of related prescription and illicit drugs, including heroin, morphine, codeine, oxycodone and hydrocodone. Opioid addiction is common for long-term users, with physical and psychological dependence producing a withdrawal syndrome upon cessation of use. A formal detox period is recommended in cases of opioid dependence, with severe and potentially dangerous symptoms experienced when drug intake is stopped. Opioid withdrawal normally requires extensive medication and medical support, with drugs used for pain relief and within the context of opiate replacement therapy. Once the withdrawal syndrome has been experienced, patients will normally be directed toward behavioral therapy and relapse prevention programs to support long-term recovery.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), effective treatment for alcohol and drug dependence requires a multifaceted and long-term approach. While an initial detox period is essential in many cases, detox needs to be followed by medication therapy when required, behavioral therapy and relapse prevention. The withdrawal process is just the start of any effective treatment regime, with ongoing programs needed to support long-term recovery.