Tag Archives: insomnia

Understanding Withdrawal Symptoms

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Going into a detox facility during withdrawal from drugs and alcohol is not only safer but highly recommended to those who are trying to stop using because you will receive a lot of support. Commonly, after one goes through detox, they will be able to work with staff to determine the next steps in their treatment. This can include inpatient or outpatient programs that will help educate and inspire a life of sobriety. 

“You don’t have to go through withdrawals alone. It can be scary not understanding whats going on with your body. Below are a list of symptoms to look out for to assure that, yes, you are going through withdrawal and yes, you need to seek help. 

“I know that I had no idea that I was going through withdrawals when I first experienced it. I was in denial about my addiction and I wish I sought help immediately before I decided to simply replace my drug of choice, thinking they weren’t as bad as the ones I was using before. ” -Love and light, Robyn

withdrawal

When it comes to alcoholism and drug addiction, going cold turkey is not the right option. Supervised detox is usually safer and may be the best route for you or your loved one.

Treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction involves undergoing therapy to help you mentally and physically recover from theaddiction. In order to get better, you must physically “cleanse” your body of the substance. To avoid a life-threatening reaction brought on by withdrawal from alcoholism or drug addiction, it’s best to seek professional help instead of trying to go it alone.

Ending Drug Addiction: Withdrawal and Detox
Withdrawal — stopping alcohol or drug use — can be extremely dangerous if done on your own, which is why a carefully administered plan for detoxification is the safest way to end your drug or alcohol addiction.

According to James Garbutt, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and research scientist at the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, “Everyone is going to have to go through detoxification to withdraw from a substance. The question is, when is it medically dangerous and when does it require medical oversight?”

Withdrawal from many drugs can bring symptoms such as agitation, sweating, an inability to sleep, and high blood pressure. Opiate and narcotic withdrawal symptoms can be among the most difficult. Opiates and narcotics are classes of drugs that include heroin, codeine, Demerol (meperidine), and Oxycontin (oxycodone), which are taken to achieve a sense of euphoria in those who abuse them.

Other substances that tend to cause more severe withdrawal symptoms, and potentially life-threatening symptoms, are barbiturates, alcohol, and benzodiazepines, according to Stephen Gilman, MD, an addiction psychiatry specialist in New York City. “Withdrawal from these substances should be handled in a hospital.”

Drug Addiction: Symptoms of Withdrawal
Symptoms of withdrawal depend on the object of the addiction. The following symptoms may result:

  • For alcohol: sweating, anxiety, tremors, fluctuations in blood pressure and heart rate, seizures, delirium tremens (the “DTs” — a state of extreme agitation, hallucinations, hyperactivity, tremors, and confusion), psychosis and, adds Dr. Gilman, “ultimately death if not treated by a professional.”
  • For opiates/narcotics: anxiety, insomnia, dilated pupils, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting.
  • For stimulants, such as cocaine: excessive tiredness and depression.
  • For barbiturates (such as Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal): nausea, fast breathing, increased heart rate, tremors, muscle pain, insomnia, hallucinations, convulsions, and delirium. If withdrawal is not monitored, the consequence could be death.
  • For benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Librium, Valium): delirium, muscle twitches, hallucinations, sensitivity to light, sound, taste, and smell, ringing in the ears, tingling, numbness, and insomnia.

Ending Drug Addiction With Medication
Another reason detox in a controlled setting is important: Medical professionals can administer medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. Ironically, sometimes these are the same drugs that are being abused.

From http://www.webmd.com by Linda Foster, MA and medically reviewed by Cynthia Haines, MD

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Addiction and Sleep

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Written for Recovery Magazine on January 7, 2009 by Emily Battaglia

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Individuals who are recovering from addiction often experience significant sleep disturbances. Some of these problems persist only for the first few months in recovery, some for years after abstinence begins.

Scientific studies have recorded the major sleep difficulties experienced by recovering individuals. One small study, conducted by the University of Michigan’s Department of Psychiatry, found that individuals in recovery may experience problems related not only to actual sleep patterns, but also to their perception of their sleeping patterns. The study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, made a thorough evaluation of sleep, sleep perception, and alcohol relapse among 18 men and women with insomnia who were in the early stages of alcohol recovery.

The study also indicated the importance of seeking help for sleep disturbances while in recovery. Lead author Deirdre Conroy, Ph.D., a fellow in the University of Michigan Addiction Research Center, commented on the findings:

“What we found is that those patients who had the biggest disconnect between their perception of how they slept and their actual sleep patterns were most likely to relapse. … This suggests that long-term drinking causes something to happen in the brain that interferes with both sleep and perception of sleep. If sleep problems aren’t addressed, the risk of relapse may be high.”

Research has shown that individuals recovering from addiction to substances other than alcohol are also at elevated risk for sleep disturbances. For individuals in recovery, sleep disturbances present a unique problem. Individuals in recovery cannot utilize medicinal aids to alleviate sleep problems without possibly undermining the entire recovery process. Recovery experts recommend some of the following strategies to help individuals in recovery address sleep-related problems:

  • Seek help! Sleep disturbances can be complex and physically devastating. Don’t let a problem that may be outside of your control undermine your efforts at good health and sobriety.
  • Establish a pre-bed routine and follow it each night. This will help to signal your brain and body that it is almost time to sleep.
  • Don’t engage in any sort of stimulating activity for at least two hours before bedtime. This includes any activity that heightens wakefulness, including exercise, high-energy conversations, video games, and other similar activities.
  • Don’t overeat. Overeating, especially at dinner can contribute to difficulty falling and staying asleep.
  • Don’t do anything in bed except sleep. Watching TV or even reading in bed can send mixed signals to your brain and body. Reserving your bed for sleep will help train your body to go to sleep.
  • Avoid coffee and cigarettes for at least three hours before bed. For some, caffeine may need to be avoided after noon.
  • Try setting aside time each evening to write about your concerns in a journal. This may help you process issues that are weighing on your mind before you go to sleep. Going to bed with an unburdened mind and clearer thoughts may reduce unpleasant or anxious dreams.

Drug Addiction and Disorders

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In a dual diagnosis, both the mental health issue and the drug or alcohol addiction have their own unique symptoms that may get in the way of your ability to function, handle life’s difficulties, and relate to others. To make the situation more complicated, the co-occurring disorders also affect each other and interact. When a mental health problem goes untreated, the substance abuse problem usually gets worse as well. And when alcohol or drug abuse increases, mental health problems usually increase too.

Brain Disorders

What comes first: Substance abuse or the mental health problem?

Addiction is common in people with mental health problems. But although substance abuse and mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are closely linked, one does not directly cause the other.

  • Alcohol or drugs are often used to self-medicate the symptoms of depression or anxiety.Unfortunately, substance abuse causes side effects and in the long run worsens the very symptoms they initially numbed or relieved.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse can increase underlying risk for mental disorders. Mental disorders are caused by a complex interplay of genetics, the environment, and other outside factors. If you are at risk for a mental disorder, drug or alcohol abuse may push you over the edge.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse can make symptoms of a mental health problem worse. Substance abuse may sharply increase symptoms of mental illness or trigger new symptoms. Alcohol and drug abuse also interact with medications such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills, and mood stabilizers, making them less effective.

Recognizing co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis

It can be difficult to diagnose a substance abuse problem and a co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. It takes time to tease out what might be a mental disorder and what might be a drug or alcohol problem.

Complicating the issue is denial. Denial is common in substance abuse. It’s hard to admit how dependent you are on alcohol or drugs or how much they affect your life. Denial frequently occurs in mental disorders as well. The symptoms of depression or anxiety can be frightening, so you may ignore them and hope they go away. Or you may be ashamed or afraid of being viewed as weak if you admit the problem.

Admitting you have a dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders

Just remember: substance abuse problems and mental health issues don’t get better when they’re ignored. In fact, they are likely to get much worse. You don’t have to feel this way. Admitting you have a problem is the first step towards conquering your demons and enjoying life again.

  • Consider family history. If people in your family have grappled with either a mental disorder such as depression or alcohol abuse or drug addiction, you have a higher risk of developing these problems yourself.
  • Consider your sensitivity to alcohol or drugs. Are you highly sensitive to the effects of alcohol or drugs? Have you noticed a relationship between your substance use and your mental health? For example, do you get depressed when you drink?
  • Look at symptoms when you’re sober. While some depression or anxiety is normal after you’ve stopped drinking or doing drugs, if the symptoms persist after you’ve achieved sobriety, you may be dealing with a mental health problem.
  • Review your treatment history. Have you been treated before for either your addiction or your mental health problem? Did the substance abuse treatment fail because of complications from your mental health issue or vice versa?

Signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse or substance abuse

If you’re wondering whether you have a substance abuse problem, the following questions may help. The more “yes” answers, the more likely your drinking or drug use is a problem.

  • Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking or drug use?
  • Have you tried to cut back, but couldn’t?
  • Do you ever lie about how much or how often you drink or use drugs?
  • Have your friends or family members expressed concern about your alcohol or drug use?
  • Do you ever felt bad, guilty, or ashamed about your drinking or drug use?
  • On more than one occasion, have you done or said something while drunk or high that you later regretted?
  • Have you ever blacked out from drinking or drug use?
  • Has your alcohol or drug use caused problems in your relationships?
  • Has you alcohol or drug use gotten you into trouble at work or with the law?

Signs and symptoms of common co-occurring disorders

The mental health problems that most commonly co-occur with substance abuse are depression, anxiety disorders, and bipolar disorder.

Common signs and symptoms of depression

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Appetite or weight changes
  • Sleep changes
  • Loss of energy
  • Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Concentration problems
  • Anger, physical pain, and reckless behavior (especially in men)

Common signs and symptoms of mania in bipolar disorder

  • Feelings of euphoria or extreme irritability
  • Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Increased energy
  • Rapid speech and racing thoughts
  • Impaired judgment and impulsivity
  • Hyperactivity
  • Anger or rage

Common signs and symptoms of anxiety

  • Excessive tension and worry
  • Feeling restless or jumpy
  • Irritability or feeling “on edge”
  • Racing heart or shortness of breath
  • Nausea, trembling, or dizziness
  • Muscle tension, headaches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Insomnia