What To Do When A Loved One Is Going Through Withdrawal
First, last, and always, it must be noted that withdrawal is only a physical reaction to the absence of a substance or substances to which the body has become accustomed. The underlying conditions that caused them to seek comfort and fulfillment in addictive substances must be addressed, or the addict will likely fall back into those behaviors again after completing the process of withdrawal.
Chemical dependency can cause a person to react poorly when they stop taking the substance. In some cases, the withdrawal process can be dangerous, but for the vast majority of cases, all that is needed is a little time for the body’s natural healing processes to assert themselves. A week of rest and detoxification should clear most of the physical manifestations. Never forget that negotiating the physical aspect of withdrawal is a minor issue compared to the realities of addiction and substance abuse. Most people familiar with chemical dependence know that addiction is much more than a physical issue. It is a deeply complex psychological disorder, related to compulsion and self-esteem. However, we are physical beings, and the state of our health and bodies takes primacy over all other matters. Detoxification and withdrawal simply must be completed before the real work of addiction treatment can begin. There are a few things to know when helping a loved one through the withdrawal process from a substance.
Determine if you need professional help
The first question to ask yourself before you dive into this is this; “Would professional help be more appropriate for your loved one?” Rehabs and detox centers can offer things that an individual would find impossible. It is not only the medication, on-call therapists and counselors, nor is it only their vast knowledge of withdrawal and their easy access to emergency services. Professionals can offer a kind of help that loved ones cannot. They are immune to many forms of emotional manipulation, they are not as liable to be hurt or insulted by the things that a person in the depths of withdrawal might say, and they can easily compartmentalize their feelings about the job they’re being paid to do in a way that a loved one simply cannot. We all need love and acceptance, and a person in the throes of addiction needs it more than anyone. They need love, they need acceptance, and they also need professional help.
Become Familiar With the Substance Your Loved One is Withdrawing From
Different substances cause vastly divergent withdrawal symptoms, and some of them even have levels of actual danger of death and permanent damage. For instance, withdrawing from alcohol, especially hard liquor, can literally be fatal. It can give the addict a grand mal seizure, cause organs to fail, or even kill them. Professionals usually recommend that an alcoholic with a severe habit should treat it with prescribed medication and gradually wean themselves to a couple of drinks a day. Barbiturates and methadone are two of the other substances that can be severely dangerous to withdraw from. Professional help is recommended when coming down from these chemicals.
Most of the other drugs will just make the addict feel like they are going to die. In reality, they’re going to be fine. Heroin and other opioids such as Fentanyl, Oxycontin, Dilaudid, Hydrocodone, and Morphine will cause the person withdrawing to have flu-like symptoms for a week or so after use has ceased. During this period the addict should expect symptoms such as cold shakes, hot flashes, nausea, loss of appetite, extreme physical and emotional distress, and disorientation.
As the addict goes through withdrawal, it is a foregone conclusion that they will lose control and attempt to procure some sort of drugs. Expect them to beg, wheedle, and attempt to emotionally manipulate anyone in their vicinity to help them get some small amount of their substance of choice. It is best to expect this from the beginning.
Beyond this, the only task is to maintain their physical comfort and health as their body detoxifies. Here are some things that the caregiver for an addicted person experiencing extreme withdrawals should have the following things on hand during the process:
A large supply of clean sheets and towels.
A space heater.
Nutritive broth and plain crackers
Water and juice
Hot showers and baths can be used to ease severe withdrawal symptoms, so try to find a space with a large hot water heater.
The road to recovery is not easy, but help through this process can mean the difference between life and death. While many do not survive the disease of addiction, many do. The people who find sobriety and success do so with the help of the loving people in their lives, the people who did not shut them out. Whether that person is a guidance counselor, a close family member, or a spouse, all that matters is that they get support from people who care. Life after addiction is possible. Getting through withdrawal is the first step on the way to that life. Contact us today at Victory Detox Center to get yourself or a loved one on the right road to recovery.