Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Detox from Dangerous Substances

By | June 18, 2016

Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and Detox often seem like the hardest things a person suffering from addiction or alcoholism will have to go through. However, a great deal of this conception is due to inaccurate depictions of what drug or alcohol detox centers are really like. Few people who haven’t experienced it for themselves understand that patients receive medication and therapy during detox in a calm, comfortable environment that helps to promote faster physical and psychological healing. But while acute withdrawal syndrome and detox isn’t as bad as what’s showcased on television and in movies, there are a few substances that can actually be dangerous to detox from. Therefore, detox should always occur in a medical treatment facility.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 17.6 million people in the United States abuse alcohol or are full-blown alcoholics. Because alcohol is one of the few substances that can be deadly to detox from, this is an especially alarming figure. When an alcoholic suddenly stops drinking, neurological pathways in the brain that were previously inhibited become active all at once, leading to serious side effects. These include Grand Mal seizures, uncontrollable urges to drink, Delirium Tremens, cardiac arrest and stroke. However, with proper treatment in a professional detox center these side effects can be minimized and controlled.

Benzodiazepines are a group of sedatives that work by depressing the central nervous system. They are used to treat panic attacks, anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. This sedative/hypnotic drug class includes Xanax, Lorazepam, Diazepam, Valium, and many others. Dependence to drugs such as these develops very rapidly and detox can be deadly in some cases. Dangerous Acute Withdrawal Syndrome symptoms include Delirium Tremens, hallucinations, seizures, cardiac arrest and pulmonary complications. These symptoms are wildly unpredictable from person to person but are often related to the severity of the addiction.

Barbiturates are not often prescribed in the United States today, but there are still plenty on the black market and doctors do occasionally make them available to patients under certain circumstances. These drugs are dangerous because of their toxic-to-therapeutic ratio and the propensity for patients to die from an overdose or while detoxing from the substance. In fact, forty years ago barbiturate addiction was a significant problem in the US; so much so that the federal government virtually pulled the drugs from American shelves. In an effort to fill the void in the pharmaceutical market this created, benzodiazepines were developed, leading to an entirely new class of drugs to become addicted to.

Once patients are medically stabilized in a professional detox center, medication and therapy programs begin as part of the detoxification process. Alcohol and barbiturate addictions are medicated with benzodiazepines, while benzodiazepine addicts must be weaned progressively from their drug of choice. Medical supervision is provided at all times and therapies are begun that will be incorporated into a long-term addiction or alcoholism treatment plan.

Most people experience Acute Withdrawal Syndrome for about 5-7 days, with the worst of the symptoms peaking at around the second and third days. Once detox is completed further treatment is usually required in a residential or outpatient program lasting anywhere from 28 to 90 days in order to manage symptoms of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.

Terrance is a Canadian-born writer and comedian who specializes in the health and addictions fields. All writing and editing work performed by Terrance is 100% guaranteed.

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