Addiction is a chronic condition recognized by the medical community as a disease. Currently, there are millions of people in the United States and around the world fighting for their lives against this harrowing disorder. Unfortunately, there is no cure available for addiction, or the diagnostic term substance use disorder.
Upon getting an official diagnosis of a substance use disorder, you may feel hopeless. However, although there may not be a cure currently available, there are different treatment methods that, when implemented, can successfully arrest the disorder and provide relief from symptoms.
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One of the more challenging forms that a substance use disorder may take is that of sedative addiction. Sedatives are a classification of drugs, typically prescription medications, that have a high potential for addiction. Even when taken correctly, the body can develop both a physical and psychological dependence to the drug that wreaks havoc on multiple areas of life. People struggling with a sedative addiction face challenges in personal relationships, emotional stability, physical health, and financial stability.
Sedatives also present another challenge for their users: a difficult and even dangerous withdrawal process. Sedative withdrawal can be uncomfortable and life threatening. Due to the arduous withdrawal process, many addicts give up trying to quit altogether. However, recovery from sedative addiction is possible when receiving proper sedative withdrawal treatment. Here’s what you can expect from your sedative withdrawal.
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How Sedatives Affect the Brain
Before getting into the actual stages of sedative withdrawal treatment, it’s important to understand the biology behind sedative addiction. Sedatives, as mentioned above, are a highly addictive classification of drug.
When ingested, they can actually change the very chemical makeup of the brain.
There are many different kinds of sedatives on the market. The blanket term sedative can refer to any one of the following drugs:
- Sleeping pills
- Allergy medication (antihistamines)/OTC medications
- Opioid sedatives
If any of the drugs you’re currently taking fall into any of the above categories, you’re taking a sedative. Sedative drugs, despite their different purposes, all impact the brain and body in the same way. Sedatives are central nervous system depressants, meaning they slow down normal brain functions. They do so by directly interfering with the neurotransmitter (brain chemical) known as GABA.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), is responsible for naturally slowing down brain activity, performing communication between brain cells, and providing a relaxing effect. With sedative ingestion, the medication or drug will increase GABA activity in the brain. They may also act as anesthetics at higher doses.
Sedatives will bind to the GABA receptors located on the nerve cells. They amplify and mimic GABA naturally calming effects. This can result in a euphoric sensation in people if taken in larger doses and is what can make this classification of drug desirable. The overwhelming feelings of euphoria and relaxation are often the target sensation of sedative addicts.
Overtime, your brain and body will begin to develop a tolerance to the drug. This means that larger doses are required in order to achieve the same effects. The brain’s chemical makeup begins to change, as the natural production of GABA changes due to the consistent presence of the sedatives within the system.
This is what makes sedative withdrawal dangerous. Whenever the user stops taking the medication after a physical dependence has developed, the brain needs time to balance itself chemically.
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This period of time in which the brain is working to return to homeostasis is when the sedative withdrawal symptoms will begin to manifest. These symptoms can produce uncomfortable effects and can be life-threatening in the most serious cases.
What You Can Expect From Sedative Withdrawal
If you or a loved one currently has a sedative addiction, you may be wondering what you can expect during the sedative withdrawal process. The sedative withdrawal symptoms can manifest in varying levels of severity and frequency, but the overall experience among sedative addicts is typically the same.
Some of the different sedative withdrawal symptoms you may experience are as follows:
- Heart palpitations
- Abnormal blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- Delirium tremens
Clearly, some of the sedative withdrawal symptoms are serious in nature and can be detrimental to your health. In the most severe cases, these symptoms can result in death among sedative addicts. This is what keeps many sedative addicts using their drug of choice. Fear of the withdrawals can keep you hooked even when you wish to stop.
Luckily, sedative withdrawal symptoms are only temporary. Once you get through the uncomfortable stage during which your brain attempts to acclimate to normal functions once again, you’ll return to normal. Read on to learn more about the sedative withdrawal timeline so you know when you can expect to feel better.
Sedative Withdrawal Timeline
The sedative withdrawal timeline refers to the length of time you can expect to experience your sedative withdrawal symptoms. On the timeline below, you’ll see exactly how long you’ll encounter these symptoms, when symptoms may begin to manifest, and what you can expect to feel on a day-by-day basis.
Sedative withdrawal symptoms may begin to manifest as early as a few hours following your last dose. The onset of symptoms can be mild or severe depending on the type of sedative you were taking. Typically speaking; however, the first symptoms to appear may be anxiety, depression, insomnia, and nausea/vomiting.
At this stage of sedative withdrawal, the more severe symptoms will appear. This is the portion of the withdrawal process that is the most intense and dangerous for sedative addicts. Hallucinations, changes in blood pressure, fevers, and seizures can occur on top of the pre-existing sedative withdrawal symptoms.
Generally, withdrawal symptoms will peak around 2 weeks following the final dose, and then begin to gradually fade. During this period of time, expect to encounter any of the various symptoms. The intensity of these symptoms can range from mild to severe, but will begin to lessen each passing day.
After the withdrawal symptoms peak, as state above, they will begin to subside. However, it’s important to note that some symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, and depression may continue to manifest for up to several months following the final dose.
This is the generalized sedative withdrawal timeline, meaning that this is the average sedative user’s experience. That does not mean it will definitely mirror your own personal experience. There are several different factors that impact the length and intensity of your sedative withdrawal.
These are some of the different factors that come into play when determining your own personal sedative withdrawal experience:
- Length of time using sedative
- How much of the drug you were consuming
- The type of sedative you were consuming
- Your age
- Your overall physical health
- The manner in which you took the sedative (orally, sniffing, etc)
Since sedative withdrawal symptoms have the propensity to be life-threatening and even persist for months on end, it’s important to take proper action in managing your withdrawal. Seeking out proper sedative withdrawal treatment is crucial to your success in recovery as well as protecting your physical health. Some of these symptoms have the ability to cause life-long health problems and even death in some cases.
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What Are the Sedative Withdrawal Treatment Steps?
If you or a loved one is ready to take the first step toward a happy, healthy life free of sedative addiction, it’s important to find proper sedative withdrawal treatment. Getting through sedative withdrawal quickly and safely are key factors in determining success in recovery. Many addicts find themselves unable to complete their withdrawal process due to the severity of their symptoms, and unfortunately return to using their drug of choice.
Attending sedative withdrawal treatment at a drug rehab not only keeps you safe during this volatile adjustment period, but also provides life changing clinical and medical intervention to help you attain long-term recovery from sedative addiction.
Success in recovery is also contingent on another factor: successful completion of the full continuum of care. The full continuum of care for sedative withdrawal treatment includes detox, inpatient, intensive outpatient, and outpatient programs.
Each level of care provides a different amount of clinical and medical intervention that act as a step-down process. This allows sedative addicts to slowly descend the treatment scale and amass more personal freedoms and responsibilities without it becoming overwhelming and resulting in relapse.
The full continuum of care is also very helpful for those struggling with co-occuring mental health disorder, or a dual diagnosis. Getting treatment for both addiction and mental health is important.
The first step to proper sedative withdrawal treatment is obtaining medical detox services. Detox is the first level of care which has the most medical and clinical intervention. Here, your physical and mental health will be closely monitored and treated.
You’ll undergo a full medical assessment when arriving at detox. The medical team, comprised of doctors, nurses, and support staff will take a look at the severity of your sedative addiction and your overall health. After the assessment, a personalized detox plan that caters to your specific needs will be implemented. This may include various detox prescription medications designed to make your withdrawal process as quick and comfortable as possible.
Your progress and health will be closely monitored throughout your stay, and a 24-hour medical surveillance is providing to ensure your safety during the sedative withdrawal process. Your vitals will be constantly checked, your medications dispensed, and access to a doctor will be available around the clock.
There will also be clinical intervention available. A full clinical staff of therapists, case managers, and other support staff will be there to help you with the emotional aspect of detox. Since the primary focus of detox is medically stabilizing you rather than actual therapy, therapy sessions will be on a more limited basis than the following levels of care.
It is always recommended that after you have successfully detoxed to continue on in the full continuum of care and move to an inpatient or residential level. Addiction is a disorder that manifests both in physical and psychological ways, and by only treating the physical aspect of addiction, you set yourself up for relapse.
At this level, you will live at the facility and undergo intensive full time therapy. There are different amenities and addiction therapies offered at treatment centers, so it’s important to do your research and find the best option for you.
Inpatient is the most intensive aspect of psychological treatment. While here, you’ll learn new coping mechanisms and life skills to implement after treatment ends. You’ll also do most of the therapeutic “heavy-lifting”, getting to the core emotional issues and underlying causes of your addiction
Intensive outpatient follows inpatient. At this stage, full time therapy drops down to part time, with multiple sessions per week for several hours replacing all-day therapy schedules. Clients will also need to provide their own living arrangements at this stage as well. Many people opt to live at a structured sober living environment, so as to have more emphasis placed on recovery and rules in place to keep them on track.
Clients will attend IOP and have intensive therapy sessions with therapists and other clients. More work will be done to help get to the root cause of addiction. However, clients will have free time and be out of the sequestered inpatient treatment environment, leading to possible temptations for relapse. Drug testing is performed at IOP to ensure clients are maintaining sobriety and continuing forward working through their addiction.
The final level of care in the full continuum of care for sedative withdrawal treatment is outpatient. Much like its predecessor, it requires off-campus living arrangements. Clients must commute to the facility or office in which outpatient sessions are held.
The main difference between IOP and outpatient is the number of hours spent per week in sessions. Rather than spending nine to 20 hours like during IOP, clients typically only attend one hour per week in outpatient. This is due to clients being fairly stable in their recoveries at this point and requiring less clinical intervention.
The single hour per session acts as an addiction form of relapse prevention and a place for clients to go to continue fortifying their recoveries. Having a point of clinical support and contact can help people if they are struggling at any point. Outpatient will typically last for several months and continues to drug test patients.
If You’re Suffering from Sedative Addiction, We Can Help
If you or a loved one is currently struggling with an addiction to sedatives, Pathway to Hope can help. With a team of qualified and experienced addiction professionals ready to help you overcome addiction and take back your life, you may rest assured that you are in good hands.
Our admissions specialists are standing by 24/7, ready to take your call, answer your questions, and get you started on your journey in recovery. Don’t delay, sedative addiction is a serious, completely treatable condition that does not have to rule your life! Call (844)-577-8575 now and begin living your best, happy, healthy, and sober life!