Understanding Non-12 Step Holistic Approaches to Withdrawal for drug and alcohol Addictions.
This Wiki is in context to the Non 12 step program developed by Gulf Breeze Recovery called THRIVE: Total Health Recovery.
What is withdrawal?
As someone takes more and more of a narcotic (classified as) drug, they increase their tolerance and require more and more to achieve the same effect. The level of tolerance where the body can no longer naturally compensate for the absence of the substance is called physical dependence.
Withdrawal consists of a variety of symptoms that occur from the abrupt removal or rapid decrease in dosage of a substance. These symptoms are related to the particular drug that has been removed or reduced.
The symptoms of withdrawal usually include an increase in the opposite effect of what the drug was meant to treat or mitigate. For example, if the drug suppressed pain, then the person would be experiencing an increase in pain while in withdrawal.
Withdrawal is an uncomfortable process. People suffer different extremes of discomfort and pain both physical and emotional as their body becomes accustomed to not receiving their drugs of choice on a regular basis, and vary according to the substance that was being abused.
Despite the discomfort (which can be assisted with safely by a medically licensed detox facility), the withdrawal process is usually over in a matter of days or weeks.
Withdrawal is a symptom of physical dependence.
If you are not physically dependent on a substance you will not experience withdrawal from it. To achieve a comfortable transition off a medication you have become physically dependent on requires matching your taper off of the drug with your brain's ability to adapt to each decrease. Too fast will cause discomfort.
In addition, drug withdrawal symptoms may include insomnia, sweating, nausea and vomiting, and fatigue. Additional symptoms of drug withdrawal may include headaches, a loss of appetite and depression. A person coping with withdrawal from drugs may be more sensitive to pain and may experience restlessness, hot flashes, and flu-like symptoms such as body aches and weakness
Individuals may develop fevers, become more agitated, and experience hallucinations or even seizures. Confusion is also a common symptom of drug withdrawal. All symptoms should be monitored by a physician or a professional drug counselor.
What is PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms)
Achieving sobriety can be hard, but, for many people, maintaining that sobriety is even more difficult. Post-acute-withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is something that can create symptoms that challenge sobriety. When people don’t know it can happen or what it is, it can often lead to relapse.
Most people in recovery report having some symptoms of PAWS. The most common PAWS symptoms include:
Disordered sleep that can include problems going to sleep or remaining asleep. It can also include vivid dreams of the substance of choice that even cause people to awaken thinking momentarily that they did use again.
Mood swings occur as the brain becomes accustomed to not having the mood-altering substance. Without the substance, the brain is learning to find its new “normal”, and that can come with mood swings that seem to come from nowhere. The brain will, however, find its balance over time.
Anxiety can occur, especially in people who have used alcohol, a depressant, or people who have abused anti-anxiety medications, which tend to numb out normal feelings. The normal ups and downs of daily living can at first feel exaggerated as people learn to live without the substance.
Low energy levels or general low enthusiasm can occur when the brain no longer receives “feel good” substances and begins to make and regulate its natural supply of neurotransmitters that give a natural feeling of well-being.
Difficulty concentrating can be another symptom and one that can cause fear that there is brain impairment from the substance use. This is usually temporary and not a symptom of damage to the brain.
Craving the substance of choice can occur, even after long periods of sobriety. Especially during times of stress or discomfort, a psychological craving for the substance of choice is common. If recognized that it is just a passing thought, though, it doesn’t have to be acted upon and will pass.
Feelings of Stress
Difficulty in dealing with stress is common. For most people with addiction, their substance was their crutch during times of stress to decrease their feelings of stress. Without their substance of choice, even minor stress can feel very uncomfortable.
Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS) can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions and symptoms.
Being aware that these symptoms may occur can help to be prepared for them. Knowing that they usually don’t last for more than a day or two makes them bearable and less frightening. And knowing it is a normal part of the process of long-term recovery can help you take the symptoms in stride.
A supportive friend or family member that understands PAWS that you can talk to when these symptoms arise is helpful. It is important to take care of yourself and really focus on doing things that you enjoy and that bring you peace are important. Treat your recovery with care, nurture it and know that you can navigate through the tough times and have long-term sobriety.
Gulf Breeze Recovery understands the importance of helping their guests understand PAWS. Coursework and group discussions about PAWS are incorporated into the teaching curriculum. Online and in-person support groups are offered too, that allow for discussions after the program is completed. Gulf Breeze Recovery strives to provide services to promote long-term recovery for all our guests.
Fear of withdrawal is common and understandable.
However one of the hallmarks of a medically licensed detox is to make withdrawal safe and comfortable. You Can watch Corey's full testimonial as well as more unscripted guest testimonials here.
Concerns Grow Over Misuse of Buprenorphine.
suboxonesampleMore than ten years ago, buprenorphine hit the market with critical acclaim from government officials and treatment professionals alike. It was seen as a helpful tool to use for opiate withdrawal but was then later pushed as a maintanence drug as well.
The drug was originally released under the brand names of Subutext and Suboxone (buprenorphine combined with naloxone), but there has since been approval for generic versions as well. When used for withdrawing from heroin or prescription painkillers, the drug continues to work wonders for many people in the form of lessening the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
However, the number of opiate-dependent people turning to buprenorphine as a maintenance drug has increased significantly, as well as associated problems with the drug. Buprenorphine has found its way to the streets where addicts will use it and abuse it, leaving some people questioning its overall benefits if it is diverted in such a manner.
Buprenorphine sales have increased at least ten-fold since 2006 and now approach $1.5 billion annually. Perhaps the tendency to continue to look for pharmaceutical solutions has been a large contributor to the addiction problem in America.
Marijuana and Withdrawal Symptoms
Now that almost half of the states in the country allow marijuana use for medical purposes and recreational use is legal in Colorado and Washington, more marijuana-related concerns are coming to the surface.
Even with studies that strongly indicate that there are significant withdrawal symptoms attached to marijuana and that many people admit that they are addicted to it; it is still considered a harmless drug by some people. However, the neurocognitive impacts, especially with teens, have been shown to have lifelong implications.
The trend to adopt marijuana as a therapeutic withdrawal agent is not grounded in good science.
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Sources for this knowledge base recovery wiki include: National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence • The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment • Previously posted articles from Gulf Breeze Recovery's Blog