Woman with alcohol withdrawal syndrome

Understanding Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS)

Alcohol is one of the most frequently abused substances in the United States, and alcohol use disorder (alcoholism) is one of the most common addictions. Once someone has developed this disorder, the distress of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) can make it extremely difficult for them to quit drinking. This can be particularly true of people who try to end their alcohol abuse on their own, without proper professional care.

What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

When a person develops alcoholism, their system adapts to the continuous presence of alcohol. When this person abruptly stops drinking, or when they are prevented from acquiring and using alcohol, their body can respond with a variety of painful physical and psychological symptoms. Clinical professionals refer to this experience as alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

Symptoms of AWS

The type, intensity, and duration of alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary considerably from one person to the next. Factors that can influence a person’s experience with alcohol withdrawal syndrome include their age and gender, how much and how long they have been drinking, and if they have any co-occurring medical or mental health concerns.

With these caveats in mind, someone who goes through alcohol withdrawal syndrome may develop physical symptoms such as the following:

The psychological impact of alcohol withdrawal can include the following types of symptoms:

  • Powerful cravings for alcohol
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium

Is Alcohol Withdrawal Actually Deadly?

For people who have become addicted to most drugs, withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, but it rarely poses a long-term health threat. Unfortunately, alcohol withdrawal can be both painful and dangerous. The risk is especially high for people who have a long history of heavy alcohol abuse.

As an indicator of the risk faced by heavy drinkers, a 2010 study in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism reported a 6.6% fatality rate among 436 alcohol withdrawal patients who received care at one Spanish hospital over a 16-year period. 

More than 70% of the patients whose data were included in the Spanish study developed delirium tremens. Typically referred to as the DTs, delirium tremens is a severe subset of alcohol withdrawal syndrome that involves the following symptoms:

  • Visual hallucinations
  • Extreme disorientation
  • Dangerously high heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Seizure

Experts estimate that more than one of every three people who develop the DTs would die if they didn’t get appropriate medical care. Thanks to the ability of treatment professionals to address these symptoms, the actual fatality rate among people who have the DTs is estimated to be between 1%-5%

What are the Available Treatments for Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

The best option for dealing with alcohol withdrawal syndrome is to enter a medically supervised detoxification program. Here are a few of the many potential benefits of starting your treatment experience with detox:

  • If you try to quit drinking on your own, the distress of withdrawal can quickly push you back into active alcohol abuse. When you’re in detox, you won’t have access to alcohol or other addictive substances, which eliminates your risk of immediate relapse. 
  • Reputable detox programs are staffed by experienced professionals who are familiar with all aspects of the withdrawal process. Knowing that you are being cared for by dedicated individuals who can address any contingencies that may occur can be a source of great peace of mind.
  • Your detox treatment team will be able to offer both medical and therapeutic support to safeguard your health and minimize your discomfort. A member of your team will be available 24/7, so you will always be able to summon help if your symptoms become too intense.
  • Participating in therapy while you’re still in detox can prepare you to fully engage in the post-detox phases of your treatment, which can improve your ability to achieve successful, long-term recovery.
  • When you complete detox at a rehab center that also offers inpatient and outpatient programming, you can transfer directly into the next phase of your treatment. This promotes continuity of care and reduces your risk of early relapse.

What Comes After Detoxing From Post-Acute Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

As we’ve established in this post, detox can be an essential step for people who want to free themselves from the chains of compulsive alcohol abuse. But detox alone can’t prepare you to address the psychological, behavioral, and social aspects of recovery. This is why it is so important to enroll in an inpatient or outpatient program once you’ve completed detox.

  • While you’re in residential or inpatient rehab, you will live at the facility where you’re receiving care. This provides temporary respite from the pressures and distractions of everyday life, so you can focus your full attention on your treatment and your recovery. Residential rehab programs typically offer daily schedules that feature a variety of therapies and support services, along with structured recreation and leisure time.
  • In an outpatient rehab program, group therapy is usually the main method of care, though other services are typically also offered as well. Depending on which type of outpatient program you enroll in, you may take part in either full or partial days of treatment. When the program is not in session, you can return to your home or to an alternative supported residence. 

Determining which level or levels of post-detox care are right for you is a personal decision that you should make in consultation with the members of your treatment team. Some people transition from detox into residential rehab, then step down to an outpatient program. Others go from detox to outpatient care. 

Remember: There’s no such thing as one perfect path to recovery. What’s most important is finding the path that’s perfect for you.

Contact Our California Alcohol Detox Center Today

If alcohol withdrawal syndrome has kept you trapped in the downward spiral of compulsive drinking, please know that help is available. Sanctuary Treatment Center offers personalized residential and outpatient services for adults who have been struggling with alcoholism and certain co-occurring mental health concerns. 

Features of care at our alcohol rehab program in southern California include a safe and respectful environment, personalized treatment plans for all patients, multiple forms of therapy, and thorough aftercare support. With the guidance and support of our dedicated treatment professionals, you can start living the healthier life that you deserve.

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.

Woman learning how to quit cocaine safely

How to Quit Cocaine Safely

Cocaine addiction is characterized by compulsive behaviors, dangerous decisions, and an overall loss of control. The pain and isolation of this disorder can make it difficult to envision a more hopeful future, and they can cloud your ability to understand how to quit cocaine. Thankfully, when you get the professional help you need, you can end your abuse of this destructive substance and establish a foundation for successful lifelong recovery.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerful, highly addictive stimulant that is derived from the South American cocoa plant. The drug usually appears as a fine powder or small crystals (which are often referred to as rock or crack). 

As a powder, cocaine is typically abused by inhaling it through the nose. The powder may also be dissolved into a solution and injected. People who abuse rock or crack cocaine do so by heating it and inhaling the vapors or by mixing it with tobacco or marijuana and smoking it. 

No matter how a person abuses cocaine, doing so exposes them to considerable dangers, including addiction, overdose, and death. 

As a stimulant, cocaine triggers the release of dopamine, a naturally occurring brain chemical that is associated with pleasure, motivation, and reward. Someone who has just ingested cocaine may exhibit signs such as the following:

  • Enlarged (dilated) pupils
  • High body temperature
  • Racing heart rate
  • Elevated energy levels
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Diminished appetite
  • Enhanced sensitivity to light, sound, and touch

The effects of cocaine are intense but brief. In most cases, a person may begin to come down from a cocaine high within about 30 minutes of abusing the drug. The brevity of cocaine’s effects often prompt people to abuse the drug multiple times within a short period. This, of course, increases the risk of negative outcomes.

The following signs may indicate that a person’s cocaine abuse has turned into an addiction:

  • Prioritizing cocaine use over personal and professional responsibilities
  • Spending inordinate amounts of time seeking, acquiring, using, and recovering from cocaine
  • Lying to family and friends about their activities and whereabouts
  • Unintentional weight loss due to lack of appetite
  • Acting with uncharacteristic recklessness or violence
  • Finding it impossible to experience joy or pleasure
  • Exhibiting symptoms of psychosis or paranoia

Once a person has become addicted, they may need professional help to learn how to quit cocaine. 

How Hard is it to Quit Cocaine?

In addition to exhibiting the signs listed in the previous section, people who have become addicted to cocaine will also be affected by tolerance and withdrawal:

  • Tolerance means that the person will need to use larger amounts of cocaine to experience the effects they previously achieved with smaller doses. 
  • Withdrawal refers to the distress that the person will feel if they try to stop using cocaine, or if they are unable to acquire and use it. 

The combination of tolerance (needing more of the drug) and withdrawal (suffering if they can’t get the drug) can push a person into a downward spiral of worsening substance abuse. It can also make it extremely difficult for a person to stop using cocaine, especially if they try to do so on their own.

To understand how to quit cocaine, you need to be aware of how your body and mind may react when they are deprived of this drug. Common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include:

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Powerful cravings for cocaine
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Depression
  • Disrupted sleep habits
  • Disturbing nightmares
  • Paranoia
  • Thoughts of suicide

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can begin to occur within a few hours after a person’s last dose. Symptoms typically achieve peak severity during the first week, though some symptoms can last for a month or longer. 

How to Quit Cocaine Safely?

Cocaine withdrawal doesn’t usually involve the intense physical pain that is characteristic of opioid withdrawal. But this doesn’t mean that it is easy to stop using the drug. If you want to know how to quit cocaine in the most effective manner, the answer is detoxification.

Detoxification (or detox) is a short-term treatment program that helps people rid their bodies of cocaine and other addictive substances safely and with minimized distress. For someone who has become addicted to cocaine, enrolling in a detox program offers benefits such as the following:

  • Knowing that you can ease your distress by using cocaine again can quickly undermine your efforts to finally stop abusing this drug. While you’re in detox, you will have no access to cocaine. This eliminates what could have been a significant threat to your success.
  • While you are in detox, you will be cared for by a team of addiction experts. These professionals are familiar with the onset, severity, and progression of cocaine withdrawal symptoms. They know how your body and mind will react, and they can provide both medical and therapeutic support as needed. 
  • Once you have completed detox, you can transfer directly into the next phase of your treatment. This allows you to build on the progress you made in detox without the risk of immediate relapse. 
  • During the post-detox parts of your treatment, you will learn how to handle stress, pressure, and other difficult situations without resorting to cocaine abuse. Therapy can also help you identify and address the concerns that may have contributed to your cocaine use in the first place. The skills you develop in treatment can serve you well in all parts of your life.

Join Our Cocaine Addiction Treatment Center in Southern California

If cocaine addiction has robbed you of the ability to live the life you deserve, the Sanctuary Treatment Center team is here to help. Our facility in Southern California offers a full continuum of customized services for adults who have become addicted to cocaine and other substances. Our treatment options include detoxification, inpatient rehab, and outpatient programming. We also provide detailed aftercare planning to prepare you for long-term success. Contact us today to learn more.

Man learning how to quit heroin in Los Angeles California

How to Quit Heroin Safely

There is no such thing as completely safe heroin use. But when you get effective treatment from a reputable provider, you can learn how to quit heroin safely. 

The more you know about heroin addiction, withdrawal, and treatment options, the better prepared you will be to find the type of care that’s best for you.

What is Heroin?

If you want to learn how to quit heroin safely, it can first be valuable to understand exactly what this drug is.

Heroin is an opioid. It is derived from the opium poppy plant.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has classified heroin as a Schedule I drug. This classification is reserved for substances that the U.S. government has determined have no legitimate medical use and a high danger of abuse. 

Heroin interacts with parts of the central nervous system that are associated with heart rate, respiration, and other automatic functions. People who abuse this drug typically do so by snorting, smoking, or injecting it. The potential negative effects of chronic heroin abuse include damage to the liver and kidneys, breathing difficulties, heart problems, sexual dysfunction, and an elevated risk of contracting hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, and other bloodborne diseases.

Abusing heroin even once can lead to addiction, overdose, and death. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heroin abuse was a factor in nearly 143,000 overdose deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2020. 

How Hard is it to Quit Heroin?

It can be extremely difficult to quit heroin. This is especially true if you try to end your heroin use on your own, without any professional assistance.

When you become addicted to heroin or any other opioid, your body will begin to adapt to the presence of this substance in your system. This change can be problematic for many reasons, including: 

  • While you are still using heroin, this adaptation means that you will need to use larger or more potent doses to feel the effects that you are seeking. This is known as tolerance.
  • If you try to quit using heroin, your body will react with a variety of distressing physical and psychological symptoms. This is known as withdrawal.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms can begin to occur within a few hours of your last dose of heroin. Most people who try to quit heroin on their own will develop the following physical symptoms:

  • Excessive perspiration
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Pain in muscles and bones
  • Tics, twitches, and spasms
  • Severe cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Disrupted sleep

Heroin withdrawal can also include psychological symptoms such as:

  • Intense cravings for heroin
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Nightmares

The most intense physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal last about a week. Some of the psychological symptoms can endure for considerably longer.

Through the entire withdrawal process, you will know that you can make the symptoms disappear by using heroin again. When you try to quit heroin on your own, your access to the drug plus a lack of professional support can quickly push you back into the downward spiral of active addiction.

Thankfully, there is a better way to quit heroin.

How to Quit Heroin Safely

If you have been trying to determine how to quit heroin in the safest possible manner, the answer is detoxification. Commonly referred to as detox, detoxification is a short-term process that involves the guidance and supervision of a team of professionals. 

When you enter the detox program at Sanctuary Treatment Center, your care will begin with a thorough assessment. We want to be sure we understand the full scope of your needs, so that we can provide the focused services that will be most beneficial for you.

Depending on your specific needs and treatment goals, our detox professionals may provide both medical and therapeutic support:

  • Certain prescription medications can ease drug cravings and other common symptoms of heroin withdrawal. Some people receive this service only during detox, while others continue to take medication as they work to establish a solid foothold in early recovery. The medications that we prescribe at Sanctuary Treatment Center have been closely studied, and they have a documented history of safety and effectiveness.
  • The therapeutic component of treatment in our detox can help you manage any discomfort that is not alleviated via medication. Therapy can also help you begin to address the circumstances that led to your heroin abuse, with the goal of empowering you to make the behavior changes that will support your continued recovery. While medication can help with certain biological aspects of heroin addiction, therapy focuses on the psychological, emotional, and social facets of this disorder.

Once you have completed heroin detox at our center in Southern California, you can transfer directly into either inpatient rehab or outpatient programming. Our team will work with you and, if appropriate, your family, to determine which option is best for you.

Begin Heroin Rehab in Southern California

Sanctuary Treatment Center offers a full continuum of personalized services for adults whose lives have been disrupted by heroin addiction. Our programming includes detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient treatment. At every level, you can expect to receive superior care provided by a team of dedicated professionals. When you are ready to free yourself from the chains of heroin addiction, the Sanctuary team is here for you. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

We Take Insurance!

Sanctuary Treatment Center accepts most private PPO insurance plans, as well as some private HMO plans. Through private insurance plans, individuals and families can access high quality addiction treatment services. If you have questions regarding insurances, please give us a call.

Sanctuary Treatment Center in Los Angeles is a Joint Commission accredited rehab center

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