Side Effects of Detox Withdrawal | Ocean Breeze Recovery
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Detox Side Effects

Detox Side Effects

Ending substance abuse is a challenge for many people hooked on addictive substances, and despite their best efforts, some people will require and seek professional help at a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center to end addiction once and for all.

It’s important to go in with realistic expectations of what the substance recovery process looks like. It will look different for each person, but overall be aware that it often is not a quick process. Instead, it requires a great deal of time, effort, and patience.

For most people, recovery begins with a medical detoxification that is designed to keep recovering users safe as they are weaned off addictive substances. Detoxification can last three to seven days or longer, depending on the drugs used and how long they were used. 

There are multiple benefits to undergoing a medical detox. It:

  • Minimizes the effects of drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Ensures recovering users will receive 24-hour supervision by medical care staff, addiction specialists
  • Provides them with access to information about treatment options after detox is completed

For these reasons and more, a medical detox is highly recommended over the other option, which is going cold turkey or quitting use abruptly. Stopping chronic or long-term use can bring on symptoms that are hard to deal with outside of a professional treatment center.  Challenging withdrawal symptoms lead many people to go back to using just to find relief from these symptoms, and this puts them at risk of overdose and death.

Common withdrawal symptoms of detox, which range from mild to severe, include:

  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever or chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Muscle pain
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia

Detox also may involve medications that are given to help users manage withdrawal symptoms, which can range from mild to severe.

DON’T GO THROUGH THE PROCESS OF RECOVERY ALONE. GET IN TOUCH WITH A TREATMENT SPECIALIST WHO CAN HELP.

DON’T GO THROUGH THE PROCESS OF RECOVERY ALONE. GET IN TOUCH WITH A TREATMENT SPECIALIST WHO CAN HELP.

Common Detox Side Effects

A medical detox, while helpful and necessary to the recovery process, can have side effects. Those side effects occur when the body is no longer able to depend on the substances abused. Brain chemistry is changed when drugs leave the body. The absence of the drugs can cause an imbalance that brings on physical and psychological changes. Some of the symptoms that stem from this imbalance include fatigue, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. The kind of substance that’s abused also plays a role in what detox side effects are experienced because they vary across different drugs. Here are the effects of some substances.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be psychological and physical; they also can be life-threatening. Detoxing from alcohol should not be a solo effort. It is risky to do so because it can lead to a relapse, permanent injury, and death. Common alcohol detox side effects someone can experience include:

  • Tremors
  • Migraines
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Confusion
  • Appetite loss
  • Agitation and mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens
  • Seizures

Addiction to prescription opioids, such as Vicodin or OxyContin, and the illegal opioid heroin have ushered in unprecedented rates of addiction in the U.S. These drugs affect the brain’s opioid receptors, which are neurotransmitters that help the body manage pain. When the brain becomes dependent on opioids and then has to adjust to their absence because users stopped using, the body’s system encounters difficulty when there are no opioids to help block out the pain.

Opioid withdrawal is not a life-threatening process, but it is a difficult one. Intense detox side effects can come just before a relapse, which can occur only a few days into dealing with the effects that present themselves during withdrawal. This is why it’s advised to go detox from these drugs with medical supervision.

Common detox side effects of opioids are:

  • Muscle pain and aches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Excessive sweating
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Tremors
  • Mood swings
  • Drug cravings

Detox side effects intensify with severe addictions or dependence on potent heroin and other powerful opioids. Symptoms that happen during opioid withdrawal also include:

  • Irregular or elevated heartbeat
  • Extremely high blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Panic attacks
  • Uncontrollable muscle spasms
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior

Benzodiazepines (benzos), such as Valium or Xanax, are central nervous system depressants that act similarly to alcohol. They cause users to feel sedated and relaxed, which is why doctors prescribed them for people who have anxiety problems and sleep disorders. As is the case with alcohol, the detox side effects of benzodiazepines are dangerous. Detox from benzos also requires medical monitoring to ensure it is done safely.  

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms also can include seizures, which are a dangerous side effect, as well as hallucinations. Rebound anxiety and rebound insomnia, which are stronger versions of regular insomnia and anxiety symptoms, are also possible during this process.

The brain stops making its own Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that regulates feelings of sedation, as benzo users consumer the drugs. When benzo use ends, GABA levels fall, which brings on anxiety and insomnia, and these may be worse than the original versions. Rebound anxiety has been linked to severe panic attacks, and rebound insomnia can keep someone awake for days.

Another detox side effect to watch out for is benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. This condition is when the withdrawal symptoms of benzo detox become significantly stronger and grow more unpredictable. Full-on psychosis, among other things, can result when this syndrome is underway.

Some benzodiazepine detox side effects of include:

  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Impaired motor functions
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior
  • Migraines
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Rebound anxiety
  • Rebound insomnia
  • Impaired memory
  • Chest pains
  • Delirium
  • Convulsions

Detox side effects that are associated with stimulants are more psychological in nature as these drugs produce euphoric effects that flood the brain with the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Dopamine mainly regulates the brain’s “pleasure center” of the brain, and when the organ becomes dependent on stimulants for dopamine, it stops making its own. When stimulant use stops, the dopamine supply dries up, users feel the results of that by feeling their mood, and energy levels decline and “crash.”  

Extreme drug cravings and severe depression increase the chances of users relapsing and doing harm to themselves relapse and self-harm. Some of the stimulant symptoms of detox include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Serious depression
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Dehydration
  • Paranoia
  • Disturbed sleep and vivid nightmares
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Exhaustion
  • Mood swings
  • Concentration difficulties

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

People who are in recovery and no longer use drugs or alcohol can still experience withdrawal months or years after they have stopped using drugs and alcohol. This is called Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), and it is a set of continuing withdrawal symptoms that affect the person mentally or physically. They can last a few days when they do occur and they can occur at different times throughout the year.

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PAWS symptoms vary according to the drug that was used, but overall symptoms that commonly occur include:

  • Anxiety, panic, fear
  • Depression
  • Anger, hostility, aggression
  • Sleeping troubles (for example, insomnia)
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Memory trouble
  • Sensitivity to stress
  • Exhaustion, fatigue
  • Irritability, unpredictable mood swings
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Unable to feel pleasure or happiness

It is advised that recovering users seek professional help to manage this syndrome if they feel they need or have been professionally advised to do it. PAWS symptoms do not have to be managed on your own.

Other things that help users in recovery getting past this difficult stage is getting enough rest, practicing habits that promote health and wellness, and having a supportive network of people. Consult with your personal physician to develop the best plan for you.

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

If you or someone you care about is struggling with a substance use disorder or addiction, Ocean Breeze Recovery in Florida can help you rebuild your new life. From medical detox to managing side effects of detox to continuing care and beyond, our trained clinicians and staff are committed to every step of your recovery journey. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that often requires treatment to recover from it.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Call 844-554-9279 now to speak with one of our addiction specialists for more information or contact us online to learn more about our services.

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