Why Drug Withdrawal is Painful

Understanding Drug Withdrawal

Drug withdrawal can be an excruciating process for someone to experience, and it’s important to understand why this is the case. Drug use affects the brain in a variety of ways. Drugs, both illegal and prescribed, create changes in the way neurons communicate with each other and interact within our brains.

These chemical reactions affect many areas, including emotion regulation, decision-making, moods, pain reception, and memory. Over time, these reactions become dependent on drug use, creating physical addiction and psychological cravings.

As a result, when an individual tries to quit or stop taking the drugs they’ve become dependent on, their body will experience withdrawal symptoms such as intense cravings and even physical pain as it works to balance itself again.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

The intensity of withdrawal symptoms depends on multiple factors, including what type of drug was taken, how long they were used, dosage amounts, and frequency of use. However, the withdrawal from opioid drugs is considered among the most painful processes due to its extreme impact on an individual’s physiology and mind chemistry.

The primary symptom that makes opioid withdrawal so agonizing is “protracted withdrawal,” where the individual feels intense flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, and muscle aches coupled with intense cravings for days or weeks after quitting drugs completely.

The individual may also have bouts of depression, insomnia, irritability, or mood swings from physical dependence on drugs and imbalances in their brain’s chemical systems caused by prolonged substance abuse.

No matter what drug is used, if enough physical dependence is created over time, it is likely that going through withdrawal will be uncomfortable at best or outright unbearable at worst.

It’s best to discuss any plans of reducing or stopping substance abuse with your doctor, who can help manage uncomfortable symptoms safely until you reach sobriety or better understand your personal needs regarding recovery services like residential rehab programs.

With proper care withdrawing from drugs can become much more manageable, allowing individuals to heal while providing comfort throughout this challenging transition.

Understanding Withdrawal pain

Withdrawal from drug use can cause various uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms, such as body aches, nausea, anxiety, and depression. People who have recently stopped using drugs may experience withdrawal pain in different parts of the body. It is important to understand these pains to manage them safely.

The severity of withdrawal symptoms and the type of pain experienced will depend on the drug used, how long it has been used, the dosage consumed, and an individual’s unique physiology. Commonly reported aches and pains associated with drug withdrawal include:

  • Muscle Tension: Many people report feeling general muscle tightness or tension during withdrawal, usually in the shoulders and back.
  • Joint Pain: Drug use can lead to increased inflammation in the joints and cause swelling that can cause achy joints or muscles near them.
  • Headaches: Headaches are a common withdrawal symptom due to dehydration caused by a lack of fluids or electrolytes.
  • Abdominal Cramping: Withdrawing from certain drugs like alcohol or opioids may cause intense stomach cramps due to electrolyte imbalances.
  • Restless Legs Syndrome: This disorder is characterized by an overwhelming urge to move the legs while resting, which causes significant discomfort during withdrawal.

How To Cope With Withdrawal Pain

Withdrawing from any addiction is never easy, but there are some things you can do to minimize your discomfort. Below are some tips on how to reduce the severity of withdrawal aches and pains:

  • Get Plenty of Rest: Getting plenty of rest during withdrawal is important to help your body recover. Aim for 8 hours or more each night and frequent naps throughout the day if possible.
  • Eat Well-Balanced Meals: A balanced diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, and complex carbohydrates can provide vital energy for recovery and keep cravings at bay. Avoid sugary snacks or processed foods that may trigger urges for the substance being withdrawn from.
  • Drink Plenty of Water: Staying hydrated is key when dealing with aches and pains associated with withdrawal. Not only will it keep your body functioning optimally, but it can also help flush out toxins that build up over time due to substance use.
  • Exercise Regularly: Even though it might seem like the last thing you want to do when feeling uncomfortable, regular exercise helps promote overall well-being while providing an effective outlet for stress and tension. Even a light daily walk can help improve mood and make the process more manageable.
  • Take Hot Baths: Soaking in hot baths with Epsom salt or essential oils can soothe sore muscles and relieve stress caused by withdrawing from substances. Doing this a few times a week can help manage pain levels during this challenging time.
  • Ask For Help When Needed: Don’t be afraid to ask for support if needed! Talk therapy, online support groups, meditation, and yoga classes – all these things may be helpful during your withdrawal journey. Everyone’s experience is different, so find what works best for you! Understanding aches and pains during drug withdrawal makes it easier for individuals in recovery to effectively manage their symptoms with greater confidence, enabling them to stay focused on reaching their long-term sobriety goals despite experiencing difficult moments.

Start Your Recovery Journey at White Light Behavioral Health

At White Light Behavioral Health, we are dedicated to helping you in your journey toward recovery. Our trained staff of professionals is available to assist you every step of the way. We offer various mental health services tailored to meet your individual needs.

From cognitive-behavioral therapy and stress management to medication management and nutrition counseling, our team works closely with you to find solutions that best fit your lifestyle and situation.

 In addition, we have access to community resources such as support groups and 12-step programs, all designed to aid in your overall recovery process. We aim to help you achieve the highest health and wellness possible to live a life full of joy and happiness. Together, we will work hard toward improved mental health, creating the space for long-lasting physical and emotional healing success.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Ryan Wakim, M.D.

Dr. Wakim is a board-certified psychiatrist with a passion for and expertise in addiction, mood disorders, trauma-related disorders and the subspecialty of interventional psychiatry. He obtained his medical degree from West Virginia University where he also completed his residency training, finishing as chief resident. Dr. Wakim co-founded and served as the CEO of Transformations leading to a successful merger with Shore Capital in May 2021. He is purpose driven towards improving the standard of and removing stigma related to behavioral healthcare. Dr. Wakim enjoys golf, traveling and time spent with his two dogs, Lulu and Rayna.

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