Substance withdrawal is the process that takes place when a person addicted to drugs or substances of abuse decides to stop using them. This process is usually painful and excruciating, needing expert medical supervision and guidance.
Some withdrawal symptoms include extreme body pains, anxiety, increased heart rate, restlessness, seizures, insomnia and impulsive kicking movements.
These symptoms could grow worse with some types of drugs, and could be fatal if abrupt substance withdrawal occurs. That is why persons who are addicted to certain substances are advised to undergo rehabilitation when they decide to quit their addiction because of its serious repercussions. An addict is considered a sick person, and should be treated as such.
First phase of the substance withdrawal is to obtain complete information from the person or user
The interviewer should obtain the complete medical and drug history of the user. When did he start using the drug? How much amount of the substance is taken daily? What were the symptoms when he had not taken his usual consumption?
All the answers to these questions and other pertinent data should be noted. This would help tremendously in the management of the withdrawal symptoms. Previous conditions, such as heart ailments, should also be noted, because these might increase the propensity of the person towards serious side effects.
It would help, also, if the effect of the specific substance of abuse on the person is known, so that appropriate measures by the medical personnel are instituted.
Second phase is detoxification from the addictive substance
Detoxification is the removal of the drug in a slow and safe manner. The administration of the drug or a lesser toxic substance is tapered into smaller doses until the person is weaned from it.
The rehabilitation personnel should constantly monitor the person’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, respiration rate and heart rate, during the process to prevent fatal reactions.
There are various substances of abuse namely: alcohol, cigarettes, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine, and barbiturates.
These substances create physical and psychological dependency because of the temporary euphoria and ‘happy’ mood that they provide users. It would help if the environment of the person undergoing the treatment is free from drugs, is safe and comfortable. A warm and friendly attitude of the staff inside the rehabilitation center would encourage and motivate the addicted person to open up, easing his emotional and mental burdens.
Each individual would respond differently to substance withdrawal, so he may also respond in a different manner to the management process. The person-in-charge should be aware of these various behaviors so he would succeed in rehabilitating a person previously addicted to substances of abuse.
You may want to know more about The Physical Basis of Drug Addiction.