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Is it true you can die from withdrawal?
It is possible, but only if you attempt to detox without supervision.
The dreaded withdrawal phase of recovery is something that anyone who has a substance dependency would like to avoid. The truth is, though, that there is no way to proceed into a sober life without first completing detox and withdrawal.
How harsh the symptoms are during detox will depend on which substance is involved. There are other factors that also weigh in and affect how severe the withdrawal process will be. Learn about substance withdrawal, and if you can actually die from it.
What Causes Withdrawals?
When someone ingests drugs or alcohol, it triggers a chemical response in the brain. With continued use of the substance, the brain will undergo changes in the neural pathways. Without the substance in the system, the person is unable to function normally and feels ill.
The pain of withdrawal is the body’s way of relaying a need for the substance it has become dependent on. In its absence, a long list of withdrawal symptoms will commence. This is proof of how significantly the brain has been altered due to the ongoing drug or alcohol use.
As the body purges the last remnants of the substance from the system, it becomes destabilized. As it attempts to achieve a new state of balance, or homeostasis, it progresses through the various withdrawal symptoms.
Can You Die from Withdrawal?
The good news is that only a small number of people have a fatal result during detox and withdrawal. Although some unforeseen risks could cause death, usually a fatal result occurs because the person stopped cold turkey without support.
The most high-risk substances to detox from are alcohol and benzos. These both have a much higher risk profile than more substances when it is time to detox. For this reason, someone with an alcohol use disorder or a benzo addiction should not attempt detox alone.
The Dangers of Alcohol Detox and Benzo Detox:
Alcohol Detox. When ready to commit to sobriety, someone with an alcohol addiction should plan to undergo a medical detox. These programs provide a trained detox nurse who can monitor withdrawal symptoms and respond to any medical issues swiftly. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms range from mild to severe, with the risks measured by the length of the alcohol use disorder, prior detox attempts, and health status. For high-risk people, there is the danger of the delirium tremens (DTs) on about day 3 of the detox. These are highly severe symptoms that may include seizures, psychosis, coma, or death.
Benzo Detox. Someone with a benzo addiction faces a high-risk detox as well. The best way to avoid severe symptoms or even death is to partner with a detox expert who will set up a tapering plan. By slowly reducing the benzo dosing slowly over a two week span, the symptoms will be manageable. But someone who attempts to quit benzos abruptly puts their life at risk, with seizures, coma, and death possible.
Going through the process of withdrawal takes anywhere from five days to a couple of weeks. Each person’s detox experience will be unique. There are three basic stages of detox: Emerging symptoms, peak symptoms, and subsiding symptoms.
There are factors that determine how severe the withdrawal symptoms will be. These include:
- Duration of the substance use disorder.
- Which substance or substances are involved.
- Level of consumption.
- General health status.
- Mental health status.
- History of prior detox attempts.
Based on this information from the outset, the detox team will be able to predict cases where severe withdrawal symptoms might occur.
What Helps with Detox and Withdrawal?
The safest way to attempt detox is under the care of an expert detox program. This involves a high level of support during which symptoms are closely observed throughout the detox. The trained staff members are able to provide the medical support needed to help manage the symptoms as they emerge. They are also trained to spot signs of serious trouble, and will react swiftly.
There are many drugs available to help someone going through detox. Simple over-the-counter meds can help with nausea, headache, fever, joint and muscle pain, and diarrhea. Some drugs can be helpful in preventing seizures, while others help reduce drug cravings.
Also, an essential psychological support is also offered. People going through detox often struggle with feelings of anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, and even psychosis. Helping the client through these difficult symptoms can make the difference between quitting detox or finishing the process.
What Happens After Detox?
Congrats! You made it through the withdrawal stage and are ready for treatment. Now that the substance has cleared your system, you are likely feeling more clear-headed. This can really help you make the most out of the treatment phase of recovery.
Treatment requires effort. This is because you will be trying to replace old patterns that kept you enslaved to a substance. It takes time to examine your old habits, thought patterns, and triggers, and then make a conscious effort to change. Change takes time.
To help you make these important changes, you will engage in many types of activities in rehab. These include:
- One-on-one talk therapy.
- Peer group sessions.
- Education and life skills.
- Relapse awareness and prevention planning.
- 12-Step program or similar.
- Nutrition and fitness.
- Holistic methods.
Once you have finished the rehab program, there is still work to be done. By keeping up with outpatient therapy, recovery meetings, and even sober living housing, you further improve your chances of success.
You may have wondered, “Can you die from withdrawal?” Now that you know the facts about detox and withdrawal, it is time to begin the recovery process.
Capo by the Sea Luxury Drug and Alcohol Rehab
Capo by the Sea is an upscale rehab center that provides on-site medical detox services. Face this first step in recovery knowing you will be well attended throughout the detox process. After detox, enroll in our evidence-based treatment program with pet friendly housing. Contact our team today at (888) 529-2114.
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