Drug detox is often one of the most difficult stages in addiction recovery. The effects of drug abuse change the brain and body on a chemical level, which plays into the addiction process. Not surprisingly, you may experience a few drug detox effects that you might not expect.
Since each person’s body interacts with addictive substances in different ways, detox effects can take different forms. Knowing what to expect can go a long way towards helping you get the supports you need to make it past the detox period. Here are a few surprising drug detox effects to watch for along with a brief overview on what causes these effects.
What Causes Drug Detox Effects?
Addictive substances take an ongoing toll on the body on both a physical and psychological level. While the desired effect may be to get high or escape from the events of the day, these substances accomplish this by altering important chemical processes in the brain and body. After a certain point, the brain and body begin to rely on the drug’s effects to function normally.
Here are just a few substances that fall in this category:
- Crack, cocaine
- Prescription painkillers
- Prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin and Adderall
Drug detox effects, also known as withdrawal effects, develop out of the chemical imbalance created when drug use stops. More often than not, the severity of withdrawal effects experienced reflects the degree of imbalance left behind by the drug’s effects. Since each person’s physical makeup interacts with addictive substances in different ways, the types of withdrawal effects experienced can vary from person to person in type and intensity.
Here are a handful of effects you might not expect to experience during drug detox:
The effects of drug addiction specifically target the brain’s cognitive processes, which include reasoning, learning and memory. As drug use continues, these systems continue to undergo chemical changes that directly impact a person’s priorities and motivations. These changes account for the incessant cravings and ongoing preoccupation with getting and using addictive substances.
Confused thinking results from the chaos that develops within the brain’s chemical system when drug use stops. In effect, the brain develops a psychological dependence on the drug’s effects in the same way the body develops a physical dependence. In the absence of the drug’s effects, it becomes difficult to carry out mental tasks that require concentration, focus and planning.
Depression and substance abuse tend to go hand-in-hand. Drug abuse often becomes a form of escape from depression. On the flip-side, abusing drugs for any length of time breeds the types of brain chemical processes that cause depression. In turn, the brain’s increasing susceptibility to depression is part of the reason why a person requires increasingly larger doses of the drug over time.
For these reasons, stopping drug use typically brings on feelings of severe depression. The severity of the depression varies depending on how long a person abused drugs and the types of drugs used. In the most severe of cases, suicidal tendencies can run especially high.
While most everyone has experienced some level of anxiety in one form or another, the experience doesn’t typically the point where it interferes with a person’s ability to function throughout the day. As a drug detox effect, anxiety levels can be overwhelming and in the most extreme cases, a person can experience full-blown panic attacks.
Signs of intense anxiety and developing panic attacks include:
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Tightness in the chest
Extreme moods are another drug detox effect you might not expect. Changes in mood can be triggered by anything and don’t necessarily have to make sense. Addictive substances force the brain to secrete large amounts of serotonin and dopamine, which promote happiness and a sense of well-being. In effect, neurotransmitter levels are severely depleted when drug use stops.
Extreme moods to watch for include:
- Violent outbursts
- Aggressive behavior
- Feelings of despair
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts when it comes to addiction recovery. While drug detox can be a difficult experience, it’s very doable when you have the right supports in place. If you have more questions or need information on drug detox programs, call us today at 800-737-0933 to speak with one of our addiction counselors.