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Drug Withdrawal

According to Webster’s online dictionary, the definition of withdrawal is as follows: A period during which somebody addicted to a drug or other addictive substance stops taking it, causing the person to experience painful or uncomfortable symptoms.

Generalized drug withdrawal has 4 categories, ETOH or alcohol withdrawal, opiate withdrawal, benzodiazepine withdrawal and stimulant withdrawal. All of which, excluding stimulant withdrawal, can be both physically uncomfortable and sometimes fatal.  Severity depends on the amount of the drug abused.

Alcohol appears to be the most life threatening. Alcohol, the legal drug most commonly abused, remains in the body for approximately ½ - 1 day and suppresses the central nervous system. The withdrawal symptoms present themselves almost immediately.  Tremors of the upper extremities can be mild, moderate or severe. The patient’s gait can be stable or unstable, and in more severe cases DT’s (Delirium Tremens) can occur. DT’s are the latent stages of alcohol withdrawal.  The patient has severe tremors of the upper extremities, gait is unsteady, and more often than not the patient is incoherent (disoriented).

Second, there is Opiate withdrawal.  Though very painful and uncomfortable, it is not as life threatening as alcohol withdrawal. Opiates can best be described as any substance derived from the Morphine family (i.e. Heroin, Vicodin, Norco ect.). Opiates depress the central nervous system and can be intravenously injection or ingested. The withdrawal symptoms consist of achy bones, chills, runny nose, diarrhea and vomiting.

Next is Benzodiazepines including Ativan, Klonipin, Xanax and Valium. Benzodiazepine withdrawal is always accompanied by seizures if abruptly discontinued. All benzodiazepines act by enhancing the actions of a natural brain chemical. They affect both the body and the brain. Withdrawal symptoms consist of high levels of anxiety.

Finally, there is stimulant withdrawal. Stimulants include methamphetamine and cocaine. Although they also affect the central nervous system there is generally no physical withdrawal, only psychological withdrawal: whereas, craving to continue the use of these drugs is so over-powering that judgment is impaired.  Individuals routinely places themselves in harm’s way (i.e. prostitution, crime, disease ect,).

In conclusion, anything that is physically or psychologically addictive will cause some type of withdrawal. But withdrawals of any kind should be medically monitored to alleviate the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.

Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles provides medical detoxification services for all drugs as part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare in alcohol and drug treatment.  If you or a loved one needs help with alcohol or drug detox, please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.



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