There are a few difficult circumstances that sometimes arise during substance abuse addiction settings, and withdrawal is one of the most well-known and often one of the most serious. Withdrawal can take place for a variety of forms of substance abuse, and one type where it can be especially difficult is among those whose addiction is to prescription drugs.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we offer caring prescription drug addiction treatment services to people around Boise plus surrounding states like Oregon and Washington. How might withdrawal from prescription drugs vary depending on the sort of drug in question, and which important tactics will help those entering prescription drug addiction treatment to manage withdrawal symptoms? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Withdrawal?
Before we get into the specifics of prescription drug withdrawal and its management, we should clarify what withdrawal is in the first place. Withdrawal occurs when a person has been using a substance for an extended period of time and suddenly stops or drastically reduces their dosage. This sudden change can cause physical and/or psychological symptoms including anxiety, sweating, nausea, headaches, restlessness, etc. The severity of these symptoms can depend on a variety of factors, including how long the person has been using the substance for, what kind of drug it is, and any underlying mental or physical health issues.
Kinds of Prescription Drug Withdrawal
As we touched on above, prescription drug withdrawal tends to vary depending on the specific drug being abused. Here are some of the most common drug types, plus how withdrawal often happens for those abusing them – and what needs to be done to help make withdrawal simpler.
- Opioid withdrawal: Perhaps the most well-known type of prescription drug withdrawal, opioid-based drugs like Oxycodone and Codeine can cause symptoms such as sweating, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, depression, anxiety and insomnia. To manage these effects, it’s best to gradually reduce the dosage of opioids, rather than stopping cold turkey.
- Benzodiazepine withdrawal: Commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia, benzodiazepines like Xanax can cause extreme symptoms when stopped suddenly. These tend to include intense fatigue, headaches, seizures, nausea and vomiting, heart palpitations, muscle pain and restlessness. Again, the best way to manage this type of withdrawal is to gradually reduce the dosage, rather than stopping completely.
- Sedatives or anti-anxiety medication withdrawal: For drugs like these, the individual’s body is typically used to the medication and could suffer dangerous consequences when the medication is stopped. Symptoms can include difficulty sleeping, confusion, increased anxiety and panic attacks. In this case, it’s best to taper off the drug slowly with medical help in order to avoid any severe withdrawal symptoms.
As you can see, a common thread here is that it’s safest to decrease the dosage gradually in order to avoid any uncomfortable or even dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Support is a huge part of the addiction recovery process, and the withdrawal period is a great example of why. This can be a difficult time for the person going through it, and having people around to help and encourage them can make a world of difference.
Some forms of support that anyone going through prescription drug rehabilitation may consider include:
- Family and friends: In many cases, the most important kind of support is from family and friends. Having a strong network of people who love and care for the individual can help them to get through this challenging time.
- Support groups: Support groups are another great option, as they provide an opportunity for individuals to connect with others who understand what they’re going through and offer advice and tips on managing prescription drug withdrawal symptoms.
- Counseling: Professional counseling is also important, as it can help the individual to better understand their addiction and learn how to manage it in a safe way. Many of our treatment programs at Moonlight Mountain Recovery involve counseling and therapy approaches.
- Sponsor: Those in recovery may also benefit from having a sponsor – someone who has been through the same thing and can offer guidance, advice, and support.
Preparing for Withdrawal
Finally, while this may not be realistic for some people, it’s best to prepare as much as possible before attempting to go through withdrawal. Here are a few suggestions on how to do that:
- Educate yourself: It’s important to learn as much as possible about prescription drug addiction and the withdrawal process, so that you can be prepared for what lies ahead.
- Set goals: Setting specific, achievable goals can be a great way to stay motivated and focused on your recovery.
- Develop a plan: Developing a plan of action is key, as it can help you to know what steps to take when dealing with cravings or other challenges that may arise throughout the withdrawal process.
- Talk to your doctor: Talking to a medical professional about your addiction and withdrawal can be beneficial, as they may be able to provide advice on how best to manage the symptoms.
For more on how to manage withdrawal during prescription drug addiction treatment, or to learn about any of our caring addiction treatment and recovery programs in Boise, Washington and Oregon, speak to our dedicated staff at Moonlight Mountain Recovery today.