Why do People Develop Chemical Dependency?
Addiction and chemical dependency are diseases of the human brain.
It is understood that our personalities, behaviors, and emotions directly correlate with the structure and chemicals, called neurotransmitters, that makeup the human brain. Drugs of abuse hijack these chemicals and change how they are released. This can cause major imbalances in the nervous system as the body adjusts to drug or alcohol abuse.
When a drug is stopped suddenly, a void is left in the chemical balance of the brain. There is often not enough chemicals being produced to account for the drug that is now absent from the system. This means that the individual suffering from substance use disorder has now become dependent on the drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication.
What is Drug or Alcohol Withdrawal?
Drug or alcohol withdrawal occurs within hours after the last dose of a substance. Some drugs produce powerful physical withdrawal symptoms including profuse sweating, nausea, fast heart rate, difficulty breathing and other physical symptoms.
What is Physiological or Physical Withdrawal?
Substances that induce physical withdrawal symptoms include alcohol, opioids and certain prescription medications that depress the human nervous system. These withdrawal symptoms can be extremely dangerous and in some circumstances produce even more dangerous withdrawal symptoms including seizures, delirium tremens (DT’s) heart attacks, and even stroke. Although opioids can cause agonizing withdrawal symptoms they do not pose the same threat as other sedatives like benzodiazepines and alcohol. Never undergo withdrawal by yourself and always seek medical attention.
What is Emotional or Psychological Withdrawal?
Other drugs—including prescription stimulants, methamphetamine, cocaine, and cannabis—generally cause less intense physical withdrawal symptoms but at times can cause the user to experience intense feelings of anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and depression. They may also exhibit poor concentration and forms of social isolation. Psychological withdrawal is also associated with many other drugs, including those mentioned above that cause intensive or dangerous symptoms.
What is Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)?
It is understood that there are two stages to withdrawal. Firstly, there is the acute stage which can last many hours, to days, or even a few weeks. Next comes Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). Oftentimes physical symptoms of withdrawal are more confined to the acute stage, yet the psychological symptoms can last for much longer. Some symptoms of PAWS include intense cravings, low energy, dysphoria, trouble with concentration, and disrupted sleep patterns.
The length and intensity of abuse often unsurprisingly translates directly into the length and intensity of PAWS. PAWS can last up to two years for some individuals and thus requires tremendous patience. The key is to understand that addiction, recovery, and PAWS are never straightforward and require you to have resilience. PAWS also demonstrates that ongoing recovery practices are absolutely essential – creating a support network of family, friends, and others that have gone through the darkest places of addiction is key to recovery.
Olympia House provides multiple strategies to help you cope with PAWS including alumni groups, case management services, and tune-ups, where you can stay at Olympia House free of charge post-treatment. We have discovered that offering these unique options after substance abuse treatment ensures a high rate of success among our clients and residents.
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) during Detox
Olympia house provides a non-medical yet medication-assisted detox to ensure your comfort during this process. Medication Assisted Treatment or MAT involves the use of evidence-based substitute medications including Suboxone (Buprenorphine) to ease both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. It has long been our philosophy to combine both integrated psychotherapeutic tools as well as those of modern medicine to help you on your journey of recovery.