Fear of withdrawal symptoms is often a major obstacle on a person’s journey to freeing themselves from addiction. Whether a person is going through drug withdrawal or alcohol withdrawal, it is important that you know what to expect at every stage. The most vital piece of information to have is that quitting is possible and that there is life beyond addiction. With the right support and a willingness to keep trying, detox and treatment can lead to health and healing. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or alcoholism, it can be helpful to learn about the stages of withdrawal and the best strategies for getting through each stage.
Stages of Withdrawal
You may be wondering about the stages of withdrawal. While everyone is different, the following are typical five stages of withdrawal:
The First Stage: Deciding to Quit and Taking Action
People who struggle with addiction often go back and forth about whether they want to quit. Major life changes require major life changes, so the decision to quit needs to be backed by something more than promises. It’s important to take time to research, learn about treatment options, and sort out feelings. If this is the stage where you or a loved one are, it is a perfect time to reach out to a treatment program or licensed substance abuse counselor in your area. Even if you are not sure how to proceed just yet, tell someone whose opinion you trust that you are thinking about quitting – this can help provide accountability and support in a delicate time.
The Second Stage: The Start of Withdrawal Symptoms
Once you or your loved one actually stops using drugs or drinking, withdrawal symptoms will start. How long that takes to begin depends on the type of substance, but in most situations, it will happen within twenty-four hours. The best strategy to get through this difficult time is to reach out to a professional substance abuse treatment program, detox center, or counselor. They can advise you or a loved one about whether or not medical supervision is necessary. They can also provide some more specific information about what to expect in individual situations. In the meantime, the person who is withdrawing from a substance should take extra care to rest and stay hydrated.
The Third Stage: Withdrawal Symptoms Intensify
People who are going through this stage of withdrawal can experience a wide variety of symptoms. Again, how long this stage lasts depends mostly on the type of substance but can last several days to a week. Some of the possible symptoms are:
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Feeling too cold or too hot
- Craving drugs or alcohol
- Mental health symptoms (depression, anxiety, paranoia, etc.)
This stage of withdrawal is difficult to do alone, so it is best to have the support of a drug or alcohol treatment program to help navigate the unpleasant symptoms. It also helps to be supported in that kind of environment because the staff and other clients understand the process.
The Fourth Stage: Symptoms of Withdrawal Are at Their Peak
When this stage happens, many people choose to have medical assistance to help them endure the most unpleasant parts. However, unpleasant as it is, the peak of withdrawal symptoms also lets the person know that the difficult physical symptoms are almost over. At this stage of withdrawal, it is crucial that a treatment plan is made for further support.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact a treatment center near you. Liberty Health Services in Southern New Hampshire offers medically assisted detox and treatment for a variety of substances and alcohol in a luxurious, wooded setting. Reach out to their caring and knowledgeable staff at 855.959.4521 today and take the first step on the path back to sobriety and health.