Once you’ve made the decision to kick an addiction, you’ll have to deal with withdrawal symptoms. If you’re dealing with nicotine withdrawal, a combination of over-the-counter nicotine replacement therapy can be helpful in managing your symptoms. You shouldn’t try to manage alcohol or narcotics withdrawal symptoms alone. You’ll require serious medical attention to get through withdrawal, so make sure you talk to your doctor as soon as you’re ready to quit.
Seek medical help for alcohol or drug withdrawal treatment.
The withdrawal your body undergoes after you quit alcohol, narcotics, and benzodiazepines can be deadly without medical supervision. When you have decided to quit, make an appointment with your doctor.
Tell them your rate of consumption: how often, and how much, and for how long you have been using this substance. This information will help your doctor come up with the best treatment plan for you.
If you have been drinking or using opioids or benzodiazepines, you will likely need to be admitted to an in-patient rehabilitation center for proper treatment during withdrawal. Your doctor will tell you whether you need rehab and their office should be able to help you find a treatment center that you can afford.
If your insurance is paying for your rehab, or if there is a state-sponsored option, you may be put on a waitlist, as affordable rehab centers are very high in demand. To improve your chances of admission, call every day when you are on a waitlist and ask politely if you are closer to being admitted.
You may be offered outpatient and inpatient options. Ask your doctor for advice on what to choose.
Ask for prescription withdrawal medicine.
You can’t quit everything cold turkey, and over-the-counter medicine can only do so much. Whether you’re detoxing at home or in rehab, you are likely to be prescribed some form of withdrawal medicine.
Discuss going on methadone or buprenorphine if you are withdrawing from narcotics. These treat symptoms and reduce your cravings can be taken during your withdrawal period, or as a long-term treatment to maintain your sobriety.
Naltrexone is a prescription medication that blocks opiate receptors and is often used after detox as part of a long-term recovery plan. It does not reduce cravings.
Clonidine also treats narcotic withdrawal symptoms, but does not reduce cravings.
Take a tapering dose of benzodiazepines. If you are addicted to benzodiazepine, your doctor will prescribe you a decreasing amount of them to take over the course of several days. Take the medication exactly as prescribed.
Severe cases of nicotine withdrawal might merit a prescription from a doctor. Ask your doctor for help if over-the-counter methods are not working for you.
See a therapist to help treat the emotional effects of withdrawal.
You might still experience negative emotions even after the initial withdrawal period. These include a general state of reduced well-being and, in some cases, a strong craving for drugs or alcohol. The best way to deal with these symptoms is to see a therapist. Your doctor may refer you to one, or you may continue to see your rehab counselor on an outpatient basis.
Be honest with your therapist if you’re struggling. They can help you manage long-term withdrawal and stay clean.
Regulate your mental health with medication.
Your doctor or rehab counselor may advise you to take medication to deal with anxiety, depression, or psychosis brought on by withdrawal after you have detoxed. Some medication may also help you stay sober in the future, so talk to your doctor about long-term use of any medication that sits well with you. If you are having a bad reaction to your medication, ask your doctor for another option.
Antipsychotics may be necessary to treat withdrawal from stimulants like methamphetamine and ADHD medication.
Antidepressants may be useful to treat emotional lows after opioid, alcohol, and stimulant withdrawal.
Mood-stabilizers or antiadrenergic agents can help treat your anxiety after withdrawing from narcotics or benzodiazepines.
Ease aches and pains with over-the-counter painkillers.
If you are getting headaches and body pain during withdrawal, non-prescription medicines like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen are all good choices.
Take no more than the recommended dose. Do not mix painkillers without first consulting a doctor.
Treat constipation and diarrhea.
Withdrawal often comes with bathroom problems. Get over-the-counter medications and take the suggested amount. Stay hydrated and get exercise as well.
Milk of magnesia will relieve constipation.
Take Pepto-Bismol for diarrhea.
Try a combination of nicotine replacement therapies.
If you are fighting nicotine withdrawal, there are a lot of nicotine replacement therapies available to you. They include patches, mouth sprays, lozenges, and gum. Follow your doctor’s advice when using nicotine replacement therapies, as combining multiple therapies could cause serious health issues.
If you are not having success, ask your doctor for prescription withdrawal medication.
Take Benadryl for insomnia.
If you’re struggling with sleep during withdrawal, take a dose of diphenhydramine (Benadryl) at bedtime to help yourself sleep while going through withdrawal. You can buy this at most pharmacies. Take the amount indicated on the packaging, and make sure it is safe to take alongside any other medications you are prescribed.
As you go through withdrawal, it’s important to drink lots of fluids. Tea, water, and fruit juices are a great option for staying hydrated.
If you’re a regular coffee drinker, avoid coffee in the evening. Withdrawal makes it hard to sleep, and caffeine will make it harder.
Eat regular meals.
You may find that your appetite changes drastically during withdrawal and you aren’t very hungry. Try to eat regular meals each day, even if you don’t have much of an appetite. You may find it helpful to eat 6 small meals each day instead of 3 larger meals. It’s important to keep nourishing your body as it detoxes.
For some types of withdrawal, you may experience nausea and vomiting. Eat foods that are easy on your stomach, like broth, popsicles, and jello.
Practice good sleep hygiene.
Ensure that your room is dark and quiet. Sleeping 8 hours a night will help you recover physically. If you are struggling to sleep, ask your doctor for assistance.
Relax before going to bed. Get ready, take a bath, and engage in relaxing activities around the house.
Avoid screens for an hour or two before you shut your eyes.
If you can’t relax without television, make sure you watch something calming and lighthearted.
Ask for support from your loved ones.
You don’t have to go through this alone! Recovery will be much easier if you have the emotional support of the people who care about you. Let your community know what you are going through. Ask friends or family members to be part of your support group.
Ask a few people if it’s okay to text or call them when you’re struggling.
Make plans with friends to hang out with you. If you’re feeling up to it, you can go on a hike or do something active together. If you’re feeling bad, you can just watch a movie or lie around and chat.
Join a support group.
Attending Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings can provide the support you need to stay clean and sober. Both NA and AA meetings are widely available all over the United States.
To find daily meetings in your area, visit https://www.na.org/ or https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US.
When you’re going through withdrawal, the desire to continue to use alcohol or drugs can be almost overwhelming. When you get a craving, distract yourself from it. You can watch TV, cook a meal, do brain teaser puzzles, go to the gym, take a short walk, or read.
Distraction is a highly effective way of coping. If you don’t want to do something, do something else instead.
Laughter will help you feel better. Watch uplifting comedies and children’s cartoons. Read comics and funny books.
Skip violent dramas that stress you out, especially before bedtime.
Remind yourself that this will only improve.
In the first few hours and days of detoxing, your symptoms will be at their worst. When you are suffering and feel like you can’t go on, remind yourself that this is the worst and it will get better.
Speak to yourself in soothing tones, using your name. Say, “Ryan, you are going to get through this. The worst is nearly over.”
Remind yourself that there are good days and bad days, but the worst days are soon ending.