Author: John Carter

How to Deal With Withdrawal Symptoms: 7 Tips That Can Help

how to get off drugs

Be upfront about your history of drug use when seeking medical treatment. If you need a medical or dental procedure done, be upfront and find a provider who will work with you in either prescribing alternatives or the absolute minimum medication necessary. You should never feel ashamed or humiliated about previous drug use or be denied medication for pain; if that happens, find another provider.

Nicole Lee works as a consultant to public, private and not for profit services to support treatment and policy implementation. She has previously been awarded grants by the Australian Government, NHMRC and other public funding bodies for alcohol and other drug research. Millions of readers rely on for free, evidence-based resources to understand and navigate mental health challenges.

  1. For that reason, detoxing on your own, without any guidance or supervision, is generally not wise.
  2. Once you have resolved your underlying issues, you will, at times, continue to experience stress, loneliness, frustration, anger, shame, anxiety, and hopelessness.
  3. You should expect to gradually lower your dose over a period of several weeks or even a few months.
  4. The catch is that detox at home generally means going it alone.
  5. In some cases, the process can be dangerous, as there are potential complications.

But it may be possible to detox in a hospital without going through the ER. In recent years, as the opioid epidemic has exploded, more hospitals have expanded their addiction services. You may also want to consider if anyone in the list of friends and family should not be included. For example, a person withdrawing from alcohol can experience tremors (involuntary rhythmic shaking), dehydration, and increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Recovery requires time, motivation, and support, but by making a commitment to change, you can overcome your addiction and regain control of your life. Inpatient medically monitored programs tend to be the most expensive option. But, if you don’t have insurance or the money to pay for this type of care, some inpatient detox programs serve people who can’t pay. The main benefit of an outpatient detox program is that you get to stay in your own home but still have professional support. Outpatient programs also tend to be less expensive than inpatient ones.


Loved ones who are concerned about a person’s drug or alcohol use may consider an intervention. Ongoing support and follow-up care are important in the recovery process to prevent relapse. The symptoms of withdrawal can be both physical and psychological, and range from mild to severe depending on the substance, the person, and the history of use. For example, delirium tremens is a severe, life-threatening symptom of alcohol withdrawal that involves tremors and disorientation. Coping with substance withdrawal and addiction can be a challenge. Support groups are available for addiction and even for addiction to specific substances such as alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana.

As you seek help for drug addiction, it’s also important to get treatment for any other medical or psychological issues you’re experiencing. Your best chance of recovery is by getting combined mental health and addiction treatment from the same treatment provider or team. For example, not everybody requires medically supervised detox or an extended stint in rehab.

When in doubt, talk to your doctor or an addiction specialist about the best choice for you. Bear in mind that setting boundaries such as “I can no longer give you money if you continue to use drugs,” is not the same as threatening a person with punishment. It is possible to overdose on heroin, which is when the use of the substance causes a reaction that can be fatal. Roughly 15,000 people die from heroin-related overdose each year.

Quickly relieve stress without drugs

Pavlov found if he gave hungry dogs food and rang a bell at the same time, over time the dogs automatically started to salivate at the sound of the bell even when there was no food. Some of the main dopamine pathways run right through the thinking part of the brain – the prefrontal cortex. When the dopamine system is damaged in that part of the brain, it makes it much harder to think through consequences and make considered decisions, so drug use becomes more automated. When dopamine stores are frequently depleted over and over again, the brain can’t cope and starts to shut down some of the structures needed to move the dopamine around the brain.

how to get off drugs

These symptoms may range from mild to severe depending on the person, their history of use, and the substance or substances used. Despite the dangers and consequences of drug use, many people try substances such as alcohol, marijuana, heroin, and cocaine. While people of any gender experience substance misuse, it is more common among cisgender males. It can be challenging to stop using substances, especially after heavy or long-term use, because of substance withdrawal. As with anxiety and depression, fatigue is common and normal for people withdrawing from drugs and alcohol.

When this happens, it can be useful to stay with the urge until it passes. Imagine yourself as a surfer who will ride the wave of your drug craving, staying on top of it until it crests, breaks, and turns into less powerful, foamy surf. When you ride out the craving, without trying to battle, judge, or ignore it, you’ll see that it passes more quickly than you’d think. There are healthier ways to keep your stress level in check.

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Many people in recovery also find support groups to be a helpful resource to lean on. If mood changes are severe, last longer than other withdrawal symptoms, or include thoughts of harming yourself or suicide, get help immediately. Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 (or have someone do it for you) for support and assistance from a trained counselor.

No one grows up dreaming of becoming addicted to a substance. If someone you love is experiencing a substance use disorder, please bear in mind that they have a chronic illness and need support and help. Learning about addiction and how not to enable a person is one way you can help them.

Cope with drug cravings

This might explain, at least partly, why some people have trouble with drugs and others do not. When dopamine is depleted from chronic use, a person might feel really flat for months, even when they stop using. This can be a strong motivator to use drugs to feel pleasure again. When experiencing a craving, many people have a tendency to remember only the positive effects of the drug and forget the negative consequences. Therefore, you may find it helpful to remind yourself that you really won’t feel better if you use and that you stand to lose a lot. Sometimes it is helpful to have these consequences listed on a small card that you keep with you.

The wiring of the dopamine reward system makes it compelling to use drugs, and the damage to the system makes self-regulation more difficult. The brain and body adapt over time to taking drugs and react when the alcohol or other drugs leave the system. And alcohol or other drug use may be paired with a number of triggers that might set off a strong desire to use. Some people who don’t require a lot of supervision might simply check in with their regular doctor’s office or a home health agency at scheduled intervals during their detox. Some people attend a daytime program at a hospital or substance abuse treatment facility but go home at night.

Surround yourself with people who support your sobriety, not those who tempt you to slip back into old, destructive habits. Some people prefer to detox in the comfort of their own home. This option might also seem preferable if you don’t have insurance and can’t pay for a treatment program.