Coping With Withdrawal: 6 Mistakes You Should Avoid
Withdrawal can be the first step in recovery from addiction, and for many it’s the hardest part. Giving up on a substance is never easy, whether you have been addicted for the long haul or want to quit right after developing dependency. Cravings may hit at unexpected moments, tempting you to break your commitment. Withdrawal symptoms are an even bigger challenge when they are painful.
Studies show that most people undergoing rehab experience withdrawal symptoms, though these signs vary according to the substance and severity of dependence. These include anxiety, irritability, nausea, diarrhea, and sleeplessness. Another survey indicated that anxiety or panic (66%) and irritability (62%) were the most common ones people struggled with during rehab.
Coping with these signs can be challenging, so you must consider addressing them while creating a rehab strategy. Remember that there are no shortcuts to handling withdrawal symptoms. You may even make some mistakes while dealing with them. Awareness can help you skip the common blunders and successfully navigate the road to recovery.
In this article, we will highlight a few mistakes people often make while addressing withdrawal symptoms.
Mistake #1: Failing to Recognize the Red Flags
Starting rehab is exciting because you feel good about taking the first step toward recovery. But it is easy to feel carried away and miss out on the early red flags indicating withdrawal symptoms. Overlooking these signs is a common mistake, and most people end up in a worse place as these symptoms aggravate without timely treatment.
Watch out for the following signs in the early stages of rehab:
- Sudden changes in appetite
- Mood swings
- Fatigue and muscular pain
- Shivering or chills
- Sleeping difficulties
Mistake #2: Avoiding Professional Help
Withdrawal symptoms are an integral part of addiction recovery. A trial including 585 individuals with addiction showed that 79.3% of the people who had been on drugs for more than three years experienced some withdrawal effects. Severe withdrawal effects were reported by 48.6%. Among the users on harmful substances for less than six months, 60.9% stated some withdrawal effects, and 20.7% rated severe ones.
Overlooking red flags is a wrong decision, and avoiding professional help is even worse. An expert can help you understand the signs of drug or alcohol withdrawal, interpret them, and create a strategy to manage them. You can hardly find the way if you try going alone. There is a good chance of falling back into the habit when withdrawal symptoms become unmanageable.
Canadian Centre for Addictions notes that symptoms can be treated at home or a rehab facility, depending on their severity. However, it is critical for patients to understand the need for professional guidance and counseling support.
Mistake #3: Trying Self-Medication
The treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome includes medication such as benzodiazepines, specifically diazepam and chlordiazepoxide. You may also need common ones for addressing day-to-day issues like nausea and diarrhea. Even if you know the medications for handling withdrawal symptoms, trying self-medication is a blunder you should absolutely avoid.
Trying to self-medicate to ease withdrawal symptoms seems like a shortcut. But you may end up in a new cycle of dependency while getting rid of an old one. Imagine the pain of becoming habitual to a sleeping pill when trying to address sleep issues. You should consult a healthcare professional to get recommendations for safe and effective methods for the long haul.
Mistake #4: Expecting Instant Relief
Many people start experiencing withdrawal symptoms within four or five days of abstaining from alcohol or drugs. They may last for weeks or months until you learn to control them with effective measures. Expecting instant relief is another mistake you should steer clear of. Not even the most experienced professionals have a magic pill to address withdrawal symptoms instantly.
You should be realistic and patient about the recovery timeline from the outset. Setting unrealistic expectations can cause frustration, even more, if symptoms do not improve quickly. You may experience emotional distress and potentially relapse. The best piece of advice is to take withdrawal red flags in a stride, focus on progress and celebrate each milestone achieved.
Mistake #5: Isolating Yourself
Isolation is not just a personal decision for people dealing with feelings of shame or discomfort during addiction recovery. Studies have established a correlation between addiction and isolation, showing the gravity of the problem. Most people accessing addiction treatment report often feeling lonely. The worst thing about isolation is that it can intensify depression and anxiety.
Maintaining social connections with friends and family members can lift you up during the challenging phase. Joining peer support groups is even better because you can seek insights and inspiration from people going through similar experiences. Moreover, it makes you accountable and reduces the chances of going in the wrong direction again.
Mistake #6: Missing Out on Self-Care
Proper self-care can be your savior during alcohol or drug withdrawal. You may neglect the basics while trying too hard to solve the bigger issue. However, adopting an optimal self-care routine can be a game-changer when it comes to reducing the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Here are a few wellness measures you should adopt as a part of your rehab plan:
- Follow a well-rounded nutritious diet and avoid fried, fatty or sugary foods
- Stay hydrated, as adequate water intake can help with symptoms like nausea and diarrhea
- Adopt a daily exercise routine with mood-boosting activities such as stretching, walking, swimming and aerobics
- Get adequate sleep and develop a healthy sleep-wake cycle to deal with sleep deprivation
- Embrace mental relaxation activities like meditation, deep breathing and yoga
- Follow a hobby that keeps you busy and reduces the focus on addiction and withdrawal symptoms
You cannot expect your body to adapt to substance withdrawal overnight. It will surely show some signs when you give up a habit. Vigilance, determination and treatment are the best solutions to address withdrawal symptoms and ease your addiction recovery journey.
You should also avoid these mistakes as they can slow you down and affect the outcome of your rehab plan. On the other hand, handling your withdrawal symptoms effectively sets you up for success, no matter how long you have been addicted.