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Drug addiction continues to be a problem throughout the world. It can affect people of all ages, socioeconomic levels and educational backgrounds. Breaking free of addiction often starts with drug detox.

Over 23 million people in the United States are addicted to drugs or alcohol, according to research conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Although street drugs are sometimes the cause of addiction, millions of people are abusing prescription drugs, such as painkillers. Once drug abuse develops, it can be difficult to break free. Various methods of drug and alcohol detox are available to help addicts on the road to recovery.

Symptoms Of Drug And Alcohol Withdrawal

Drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms develop due to both the physical and psychological dependency on a substance. When someone uses a drug long-term or on a regular basis, their brain gets used to the substance.

Withdrawal symptoms can develop when users suddenly quit taking the drug.

It is also important to understand that addiction can develop more or less quickly depending on the drug a person uses. An individual’s age and genetics also play a role in how fast addiction develops. In some cases, it is possible to become addicted to a substance after only short-term use. Depending on how severe the addiction is, withdrawal symptoms can start about eight to 12 hours after the last use of the drug. 

When symptoms first develop, it is considered the acute stage of withdrawal.

The acute stage often causes physical symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, fever and muscle and stomach cramps. Sweating, shaking and irritability are also common. Some people also have insomnia and become paranoid.  Acute withdrawal symptoms may last about a week, with symptoms peaking within the first three days. As physical symptoms taper off, psychological symptoms may continue for weeks or even months. 

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is considered the second stage of drug or alcohol withdrawals.

Symptoms often include memory problems, difficulty concentration and anxiety. 

What Is Drug Detox?

In many cases, people who are addicted to drugs are unable to stop because they cannot deal with withdrawal symptoms. They may not use to get high as much as to prevent developing withdrawal symptoms. Detox is often an effective first step in helping someone battling addiction. According to National Institute of Drug Abuse, detox is the process of ridding the body of the substance while managing withdrawal symptoms. The body needs time to re-balance and adjust to not having the drug on a regular basis.

Although it is possible for someone to go “cold turkey” and detox on their own without medical supervision, it can be difficult. The emotional and physical symptoms may be too difficult for someone to deal with on their own, resulting in continued drug use. In addition, in some cases, severe withdrawal symptoms are possible. For example, seizures can develop when withdrawing from alcohol abuse. In order to increase the chances of success and be safer, medically supervised detox programs have become common in treating drug and alcohol addiction. 

Medical detox programs involve supervision from a trained staff of clinicians.

The detox process can vary in length, depending on which drugs a person was using and how frequently. Although medical detox is often needed to beat addiction, it is not the only treatment that is needed. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, while detoxification is often successful in managing withdrawals symptoms, it is just the first step.

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