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Drug or alcohol withdrawal is a combination of symptoms someone experiences when they suddenly stop or drastically reduce the amount of a drug they had been regularly using. In some cases, these symptoms can be life-threatening if left untreated. If someone is looking for ways to minimize withdrawal symptoms without relapsing, below is a compilation of home remedies and tips that may make the withdrawal process more comfortable.
What Does Withdrawal Feel Like?
Withdrawal symptoms from drugs and alcohol can vary depending on the drug of choice, the length of time the drug was abused, and how much was done each time. Generally speaking, drug and alcohol withdrawal is uncomfortable for many and often leads to relapse simply because the person is trying to escape the uncomfortable symptoms.
At the end of the day, experiencing withdrawal is probably going to be one of the most uncomfortable experiences you’ll ever go through, and the urge to use one more time to get rid of that feeling is going to be hard to resist. The best way to get rid of the painful and uncomfortable symptoms you’re experiencing is to seek treatment from a medical detox center where they can provide you with different medications that will reduce the discomfort and dangers.
Some common symptoms of withdrawal you may be experiencing include:
- Change in Appetite
- Mood Changes
- Muscle Pain
- Anxiety or Paranoia
- Hot and Cold Flashes
Looking for more detailed drug withdrawal symptoms and timelines? Find out how long drug withdrawal lasts for each of the 19 most commonly abused substances in the United States.
Home Remedies for Withdrawal
Entering a medical detox center is absolutely the most effective and safest way to get through withdrawal. If someone chooses to not enter a medical detox, there may be some things that may help reduce the withdrawal symptoms somewhat. Though these remedies will not offer a “fix” to the symptoms you are currently experiencing like medically assisted detox will, they may offer some relief:
NOTE: These recommendations are not intended as medical advice, rather, they are things that we have tried and have worked for us. If you are expecting to go through withdrawal from drugs or alcohol, consult a doctor or medical professional on the best plan for you.
Supplements and Vitamins
Taking supplements and vitamins during withdrawal can help ease the increased anxiety and paranoia you might be feeling as well as replenish the nutrients within your body that might be lacking due to the addiction. In some cases, individuals who have been abusing drugs may become malnourished due to decreased appetite and self-care. Taking multivitamins can help boost those nutrients that may be lacking including:
- Vitamin D for mood regulation and depression.
- The amino acids L-theanine, L-tyrosine, and L-tryptophan may help reduce anxiety and depression somewhat.
- Chamomile can produce a calming effect and may decrease anxiety.
Over The Counter Medications
You may be able to take different over-the-counter medications to treat specific symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. The ones we recommend are non-addictive and will not cause a worsening of any of the symptoms you are currently feeling.
- NSAIDs such as Aspirin, Aleve, and Ibuprofen are some non-narcotic painkillers that can be used for headaches or muscle pains.
- Antidiarrheals may be helpful, although it would be wise to avoid antidiarrheals that contain loperamide.
- Excedrin can be used to treat headaches.
- Melatonin can be an extremely helpful and safe sleep aid.
Non-Addictive Prescription Medications
Your doctor may be able to prescribe you SSRIs, such as Prozac and Paxil, which are antidepressants and can help with mood swings, depression, and anxiety. They may also choose to prescribe clonidine which can help reduce anxiety and blood pressure during withdrawal. Speaking with a doctor about your specific symptoms can give them a better idea of what to prescribe, however, depending on the severity of withdrawal symptoms, they may recommend that you go to a detox facility where withdrawal medications can be prescribed.
Yoga or Meditation
Not only can yoga and meditation work to decrease anxiety and ground you during periods of intense cravings, but both of these practices can also help foster positive coping mechanisms for the future. Starting these practices during withdrawal may be able to help reduce drug cravings. The benefits of yoga and meditation include:
- Stress Relief
- Increased Strength
- Increase Self-Awareness
- Pain Relief
- Better Sleep
- Increased Energy Levels
- Reduced Fatigue
There is some research that shows that acupuncture can help ease anxieties and tensions for those going through withdrawal, especially from opiates. Some places will recommend getting acupuncture in the ear as there are so many pressure points and it can help relieve some of the symptoms caused by detox.
Visit A Sauna
Though sauna therapy doesn’t speed up the detox process or physically remove the toxins in your body, it can help ease muscle aches and discomforts you may be feeling during withdrawal. Visiting a sauna may also calm the mind and the body and increase mood.
Take Frequent Shower
Taking a cold shower may help minimize cravings and ground you while taking a hot shower can relax your muscles and your mind to ease pain, tension, and anxiety. If you are experiencing hot flashes, a cold shower may help to cool the body. And if you are suffering from chills, sitting in a warm bath may ease them. You can also take a bath with lavender or chamomile scented soaps can help to relax the mind and ease stress.
For individuals who are experiencing restlessness or tingling, bug-like sensations on the legs and arms during withdrawal, wearing compression sleeves can make those sensations go away and release some of the discomforts it may cause.
Keeping a journal during this process might seem silly, but tracking your thoughts, emotions, and physical experiences can help remind you why you’re getting sober and may give you a leg up when it comes to pushing through those withdrawal symptoms and preventing relapse.
When you choose to go to a medically assisted detox facility, the doctors can prescribe medications that are FDA-approved to treat withdrawal symptoms. By seeking detox assistance, you are able to minimize discomfort and pain more effectively than with home remedies. Some medications you might be prescribed are:
- Buprenorphine: Opioid agonist that prevents withdrawal symptoms.
- Suboxone: A combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, reduces discomfort.
- Naltrexone: Reduces alcohol cravings.
- Nalmefene: Reduces alcohol cravings.
- Baclofen: Reduces discomfort and cravings.
- Propranolol: A blood pressure medication, it is mainly used for its secondary property of reducing anxiety.
- Tiagabine: An anticonvulsant.
Some general advice and helpful suggestions for reducing the discomfort of withdrawal include:
#1 Tip: Visit a Detox Facility
Your best chance of getting through withdrawal as comfortable as possible and as safely as possible is through a detox facility. Most will provide care with or without insurance, so there is no reason that this isn’t an option. In fact, it is the safest and most painless option available. No one wants to suffer from excessive diarrhea, uncontrollable tremors, and hot flashes. If you go to a medical detox facility, not only can they alleviate those symptoms, but they can provide 24/7 care and stand by your side through the entire process, making it as easy as it possibly can be.
You’re most likely not going to want to get up and do anything, but even just taking a walk around the house or down the street can help to stretch your muscles and alleviate some of the pain you might be feeling. Getting out in the sun can also help boost mood, increase energy, alleviate pain, and help your body to heal. Some simple things you can do:
- Go for a 10-minute walk every few hours.
- Stretch for a couple of minutes in the morning and at night.
- Move around each hour if you have been sitting or lying in bed.
- Take your dog for a walk in the morning and at night.
Eat A Balanced, Nutritious Meal
You’re also probably not going to want to eat which is understandable considering the nausea you may be feeling, but eating something will actually help your body begin to heal and can alleviate those stomach cramps. Bland foods that are easy to digest such as chicken, rice, bread, and pasta will be easiest on the stomach. It is also important to balance your diet and start putting those nutrients in your body that are lacking. Try eating leafy greens or fruits, grains, and nuts.
When you feed your body, even when you don’t want to eat, you are retraining yourself to have those healthy habits that were missing during active addiction. Even eating a few nuts every hour can help boost the healing process that is taking place and make some of those symptoms lessen.
Keep A Regular Sleep Schedule
You might be having a difficult time sleeping or you might want to sleep all the time. Getting your rest is important right now, but it is also important to retrain your body and brain to establish healthy habits. Set a timer for when you want to go to bed, and set another timer for when you want to wake up, and then stick to those times. Make sure you get at least 8 hours of restful sleep each night.
- Take melatonin if you have difficulty falling asleep.
- Turn off the TV and put your phone away 30 minutes prior to your bedtime.
- Read a book or do something relaxing right before bed.
Join A Support Group
The hardest part of withdrawal is sticking with it despite the pain and discomfort. You might be second-guessing your choice to get sober, and the thought of using again may be tempting, but it can help immensely to seek support from others who have been through the same experience. Joining a support group can help connect you with people just like you and can help remind you why you’re getting sober.
Lean Into It
The best advice we can give as people who have gone through this before is to lean into the discomfort and the pain because if you can just get through this period of withdrawal, it will get better. You won’t feel this awful forever, and coming out on the other side of it feels even better than you think it will. If you can prepare yourself mentally for the discomfort but recognize that it will only last for a little, then you will be able to get sober and stay sober.
What Not To Do
These are things that we have tried and our experiences have proven that they will only make the symptoms worse, so it is better to just avoid doing them at all.
Don’t Drink Caffeinated Beverages
Though coffee may sound like a good idea in the mornings when you are fighting to stay awake, it is a stimulant and can worsen the symptoms you are already feeling, especially if detoxing from a depressant drug. Stay away from any and all beverages with caffeine, and it is also a good idea to limit the number of sugary drinks.
Don’t Try Kratom…Or Any Drugs
Recently, people have been using kratom to help reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms, however, kratom is just as addictive and can cause a person to develop a new dependence or can lead to full-blown opioid relapse. Using other addictive substances like alcohol or kratom or benzodiazepines to minimize withdrawal symptoms can lead to a cross addiction and can leave you in a much worse position than you are right now, strange as that may seem. The sooner you get help for your current addiction, and the sooner you are able to detox, the quicker you will get back to feeling normal.
Don’t Try To Stop Smoking At The Same Time
Though a smoking addiction is not something to be proud of, now is not the time to quit. It’s hard enough to go through heroin, benzo, or alcohol withdrawal, but adding symptoms of nicotine withdrawal on top of that is just asking for a relapse. If you need the nicotine to calm your nerves that may be heightened right now, then use nicotine as a way to cope and plan on quitting once you finish the current detox you are going through.
Getting help from a detox facility can help alleviate those symptoms if you are also dealing with nicotine addiction, and they may actually be able to help wean you off the nicotine as well. Their medical knowledge and ability to prescribe specific medications for withdrawal can really make this process so much easier, especially for people dealing with co-occurring addictions.
Find a detox center closest to you and seek help for your withdrawal symptoms. They are going to offer the best and most painless chance of getting through withdrawal successfully. If you aren’t sure where to go, give us a call so that we can connect you with the best detox center for your specific needs. Recovery isn’t easy, but with help it is possible.