In order to break free from addiction, drug withdrawal is a priority. There are multiple stages of withdrawal, and each is critical if your ultimate goal is sobriety. Identifying and understanding the stages of withdrawal can be key in preparing for detox and effective addiction treatment.

Stage 1: Making the Decision to Quit

guy goes through drug withdrawalDrug withdrawal starts with acknowledging that there’s a problem. Often, it can be very challenging to admit that addiction impacts you or someone you care about. Deciding to seek help, and opting for professional drug addiction treatment, is the first step in the right direction.

During this time, patients can prepare by learning more about what withdrawal, detox and addiction rehab will consist of. This is also the time to select the right drug treatment programs to fit your needs and your lifestyle. Recovery doesn’t happen overnight, so preparing for the road ahead can be helpful.

Stage 2: Withdrawal Symptoms Begin

The second stage of withdrawal happens once the first symptoms appear. This can happen a few hours after the last dose, or it could happen a full day later. Ultimately, the start time will depend on the severity of your addiction as well as your drug of choice.

Many patients are already familiar with these first withdrawal symptoms. That’s because trying to cut back on drug use, or skipping a dose, will often result in similar side effects. The difference is that in treatment, patients continue to push through the discomfort in order to break the chemical dependency once and for all.

Stage 3: Symptoms Increase in Intensity

If the second stage is an introduction to withdrawal symptoms, the third stage is when the symptoms begin to increase in strength. Often, this stage begins around 24 hours after the last time you use drugs. For many patients, this is the beginning of discomfort.

Many people compare this stage of withdrawal to a bad case of the flu. It’s certainly not pleasant, but most patients can work through any discomfort with the help of the staff. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms at this time can include the following:

  • Muscle aches
  • Irritability
  • Depression, anxiety or paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Drug cravings
  • Temperature regulation issues, chills
  • Severe dehydration

Stage 4: Symptoms Peak and then Decline in Intensity

The fourth stage of withdrawal is a double-edged sword. On one hand, this is the period where symptoms climax and are at their strongest. On the other hand, this is a sign that detox is coming to an end.

As the symptoms peak, patients may feel very uncomfortable. However, this is also a time when medical professionals in a rehab facility can offer helpful resources. Everything from sedatives to painkillers to IVs with electrolytes can reduce pain and make a difference in comfort levels. Most importantly, these medical professionals will be on hand in case any symptoms become more serious and demand emergency medical attention.

Stage 5: Drug Withdrawal Can Appear Again in the Form of PAWS

Once withdrawal ends, a week or two after it starts, patients can begin to focus on maintaining their newfound sobriety. This will often require a long-term treatment program and a range of therapies. One of the biggest threats of relapse, however, is post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS.

PAWS may appear weeks or months into recovery and typically includes some of the original withdrawal symptoms as well as strong cravings. Fortunately, knowing what PAWS is and properly preparing for it can make it easier to resist cravings and remain sober.

There’s no denying the challenges that drug withdrawal creates. However, quality facilities like 1st Step Behavioral Health can help you through every stage of the process. Call 866-319-6126 to regain control over your life and your future.