Physical and Mental Challenges of Withdrawal

Posted on 10. Jan, 2014 by in Alcohol & Drug Abuse

The challenges associated with withdrawal can vary depending upon which type of substances you are trying to overcome. Some of these drugs, such as alcohol, opiates, and certain prescription drugs, can present very physical withdrawal symptoms. Others, such as marijuana and cocaine, will present limited physical symptoms, but will present very mental withdrawal symptoms. Overcoming the challenges of withdrawals can be helped by first understanding the types of challenges you will facing.

The physical withdrawal symptoms may include heavy sweating, palpitations and a racing heart, difficulty breathing or tightness in the chest. You may experience tremors, muscle tension, or gastrointestinal problems. Emotional symptoms run through anxiety, insomnia, depression, and self-isolation. There are also some very dangerous symptoms which add to the challenges of withdrawals. These serious symptoms include seizures, heart attacks, hallucinations, and more.

Another significant challenge presented by withdrawal from addictive substances is the length of time during which those symptoms are apparent. You may experience these symptoms for many weeks, and might have recurring bouts of symptoms for the rest of your life.

The first stage of withdrawal is called the “acute stage.” This part of the withdrawal process typical lasts for a few weeks. The severity of your symptoms may be very difficult to overcome. Surround yourself with a strong support network, with people who understand the struggle you will be facing and who have some familiarity with effective techniques in providing the necessary support.

Following the acute stage, you will enter into the “post-acute stage.” During this stage, your physical symptoms should be lessened, but the mental and emotional symptoms may be more difficult. You can expect to suffer from mood swings, irritability, fluctuations between high energy and none at all, lack of enthusiasm, difficulty concentrating, and trouble with sleeping. These symptoms may seem intense at first, but will gradually begin to stabilize as you progress through your recovery. The typical length of time during which you will be in the post-acute stage is two years.

Your success may depend in part upon the availability of support. The path to recovery may seem long and difficult at the beginning and throughout your progression through the challenges of withdrawals. With the support of a friend or professional who has had experience with this path, you may be better able to stay focused on the end goal of recovery.

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