Whether you are addicted to drugs, nicotine or alcohol, dealing with withdrawal symptoms can be difficult and, when unsuccessful, can lead to relapse. Coping with cravings means instituting good habits that effectively circumnavigate your attention from the substance to the new, healthy practice. If you’ve tried to quit before, you know that this can be the worst part of beginning recovery. If you’ve relapsed in the past, you may not know that these feelings do not last forever; getting past the first few days or weeks of withdrawal is often the hardest.
Identifying Withdrawal Symptoms
Drugs alter a person’s ability to think clearly and exercise good judgment. Especially when experiencing withdrawal, the brain will try to rationalize just about any reason to make taking drugs a good idea. Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Increased sensitivity to pain
- Emotional instability, anxiety and depression
- Restlessness or insomnia
- Sweating, hot flashes
- Flu-like symptoms: weakness, body aches and headaches
- Lack of or increased appetite
These symptoms alone don’t always lead to relapse. There are other emotional, social, or mental factors that can contribute to a relapse as well, according to Helpguide.org. These symptoms include:
- A heightened negative or positive emotional state (using because you feel bad or because you want to increase your good feelings)
- Social situations – using due to social pressure, because you’re in circumstances in which substance use is occurring, or because of conflict with another person
- Physical discomfort
- Strong cravings or temptation to use
- Testing personal boundaries – many people use just “one more time” because they think they can stop at any point
Not every treatment option or coping mechanism works for every person. Each person has a different addiction and reasons for using, so not every treatment will work for everyone. It’s important to remember that if something doesn’t work, you can try another method. Commitment to abstinence is key in achieving lifelong sobriety. Look at the reasons why you started using and why you kept using. It may help you identify which coping approaches will be best for you.
- Physical activities like exercising and yoga can be very helpful in keeping your mind off drugs. Yoga tends to help balance and center a person, much like meditation, and can prove very valuable in averting cravings. Many smokers for example don’t quit smoking for fear of gaining weight. Exercising just a few times a week can negate this result and make it easier for someone to quit.
- Support systems of family and friends, even counseling groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous, can be very encouraging for someone when quitting. Having someone to talk to and talk through your cravings can help quell the desire to use.
- Prepare for withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, and physical effects. By knowing what to expect during withdrawal, you can make an action plan to help combat the cravings. If you’re prone to anxiety, identify ways you can work through the panic. Meditation, breathing exercises, and sensory strategies can help with this.
- Many medications are on the market to help with withdrawal from a variety of substances. Methadone and disulfram are two such medications that can treat withdrawal from heroin and alcohol, respectively. Recently, as reported on Bloomberg, Zofran (ondansetron) was noted as having positive side effects on patients coping with withdrawal. When compared side by side with a placebo, participants noted significantly less restlessness, hot flashes and sweating associated with withdrawal.
Sometimes a person can cope with withdrawal symptoms on their own but usually only if they are dealing with a mild or short-term drug or alcohol abuse issue. When that doesn’t work, a treatment facility like Futures of Palm Beach can help you achieve and maintain sobriety. We can work with you implement a variety of strategies that can help you cope with cravings and effectively manage your abstinence. Call us today to learn more about the treatment options available.