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Do Detox Symptoms Depend on the Drug?

Every drug does something a little different to your body and brain, which is why different drugs have different effects. Over time, your physiology adapts to those effects, creating a higher tolerance. When you stop taking the drug, those tolerances, which were built up over months and years, still persist, but now your chemistry is totally out of balance. This sudden chemical imbalance is what you experience as withdrawal.

These physiological adaptations are different, and so your withdrawal symptoms will be different too. Compare cocaine and alcohol for example. Cocaine works by blocking dopamine receptors in the brain, causing dopamine to build up in the synapses. This flood of dopamine makes you feel good but it also tells your brain it’s producing too much dopamine. Over a period of regular use, your brain produces less and less dopamine, but you don’t notice because you use more and more cocaine. When you stop using, your brain suddenly finds it produces too little dopamine and you feel depressed. Nothing seems very interesting or important. The color has gone out of the world and you feel like you’ll never be cheerful again.

Alcohol has a different mechanism. It enhances the effect of GABA, which calms you down, and blocks the effect of glutamate, which amps you up. Over a prolonged period of heavy, consistent drinking, your brain makes less GABA and more glutamate to counter the effects of the alcohol. Then, when you stop drinking, your brain produces way too much glutamate and not nearly enough GABA. As a result, you feel anxious, agitated, and irritable. You can’t relax.

As a general rule, withdrawal symptoms will include the opposite of the feelings the drug produced. Just as depression is a symptom of cocaine withdrawal and agitation is a symptom of alcohol withdrawal, pain is a symptom of opioid withdrawal. If you have been addicted to opioids for a while, you have gotten used to not feeling pain. When you stop using, everything is painful.

Beyond that, some drugs have withdrawal symptoms seemingly unrelated to their primary function. Opioid withdrawal, for example can include runny nose, yawning, and diarrhea.

There are some withdrawal symptoms common to many drugs. Anxiety is very common, as are headaches, nausea, shaking, sweating, and depression. Some of these symptoms, like nausea and sweating are the body’s way of getting rid of toxins. Others are more coincidental. Although depression is pretty direct effect of stopping cocaine, it may have more complex causes in other drug withdrawal. Addicts often feel like withdrawal will never end. Even when it does end, they may believe they are facing a life devoid of joy without the drug.

Human dignity has value. When a loved one chooses detox, they should be comfortable and treated with respect. Struggling with addiction is not something punished. Recovery should be supported with empathy and acceptance. Gardens Detox stands out, changing the way the industry approaches detox. Call us today for information on our programs:  (844) 325-9168