Tapering Drugs During Detox to Ease Withdrawal Symptoms

tapering drugs

If you’ve developed a prescription drug dependence or addiction and want to enter treatment, you’ll begin with detox. It is recommended that you seek the support and guidance of a detox program when you decide to quit. Detox experts understand that tapering drugs gradually over a couple of weeks is the safest route to take.

Understanding the Detox and Withdrawal Process

Once a substance use disorder involving prescription pills has developed, the brain has gone through many changes. Chronic use or abuse of OxyContin, Vicodin, Xanax, Adderall, or any prescription drug abuse causes changes in the neural pathways of the brain. These changes are prompted by the dopamine response, which imprints on the brain’s reward system.

Thus, when you attempt to stop the drug, your system will react, sometimes violently, to the absence of the drug. This is the brain’s attempt to regain homeostasis, or to equalize chemistry and stabilize the system. The symptoms that follow will vary based on the drug category involved, as well as other factors. This process can take several days to weeks.

How Tapering Drugs Helps Ease Withdrawal Symptoms

During detox, the provider will assist the process by slowly tapering you off the drug with the use of substitute tapering drugs. This may involve prescribing a less potent version in the drug class, or to lower the dosage of the drug. The body slowly adapts to the lower dose of the drug, or a similar drug, which makes the process go much smoother.

This tapering can be very helpful in reducing the discomfort of the withdrawal process. It does length the process to about 2-3 weeks, but yields much higher detox success rates. This is due to the intervention provided for pain and discomfort, as well as emotional support while going through detox. Without this help, the person is apt to give up and return to the drug.

The Detox and Withdrawal Timeline

The detox timeline will differ slightly for each person, based on the drug involved and the duration of the dependence. In general, the withdrawal symptoms begin to emerge 12-24 hours after the last dose. The early symptoms will help the detox provider to gauge how to time the taper schedule and dosing. Symptoms peak on days 2-4, and then start to stabilize during the remainder of the drug taper.

Withdrawal symptoms for benzos:

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  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fever
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased anxiety.
  • Elevated heart rate.
  • Elevated respiratory rate.
  • Elevated blood pressure.
  • Shaking hands.
  • Sweating
  • Jerky movements.
  • Insomnia
  • Grand mal seizures.

Withdrawal symptoms for opioids:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Breaking out in cold sweat.
  • Muscle aches and pain.
  • Insomnia
  • Shaking
  • Agitation
  • Bone pain.
  • Watery eyes.
  • Goosebumps.
  • Rapid heart rate.
  • Excessive yawning.

Withdrawal symptoms for stimulants:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Panic attacks.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Phobia
  • Mood swings.
  • Intense hunger.
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Transitioning to Treatment

The treatment phase of recovery follows detox and lasts for a few months. The longer you stay in treatment, the better your chance for success. This is because it takes time to reroute the brain once the drug is no longer being ingested. It also takes time to change your thoughts and behaviors when you feel stressed, upset or triggered to use. If you leave rehab too soon, chances are you will relapse shortly after.

The treatment process is multi-modal. This approach is by design, as each person may respond differently to the various treatment elements. Together, these all work to shape new healthy behaviors and lifestyles:

  • Psychotherapy. This involves meeting alone with a therapist to discuss and explore any underlying issues or past traumas that may be contributing to the substance problem.
  • CBT. This type of therapy guides you toward adopting new thought patterns that replace the dysfunctional patterns that have fueled the pill addiction.
  • Group therapy. These sessions foster mutual support between peers in recovery. A clinician guides the small group discussions on topics related to recovery.
  • Family therapy. Getting the family on board is critical in recovery, so rehabs offer family counseling to improve understanding and functioning.
  • Education. Classes help you gain a better understanding of how pills can alter brain structures and chemistry, leading to addiction. You will learn new recovery skills, and create your own relapse prevention plan.
  • 12-step meetings or similar. which provides social support and opportunities for leadership and making new sober friends.
  • Holistic methods. There are many holistic activities that help regulate stress, which is very useful in recovery. These might include yoga, massage therapy, acupuncture, mindfulness, and art therapy.
  • Nutrition and exercise. Physical healing is just as important as emotional healing. Eating a healthy diet and being active are included in rehab, and should be included in your new healthy lifestyle.

Aftercare Actions to Reinforce Recovery

Detox and treatment only set the stage for a healthy new life in recovery. To sustain it you must include aftercare actions in your routine. These are the lifestyle changes you should make to help support recovery in the long term. They include:

  • Outpatient program. Stepping down to outpatient treatment offers a continuum of care and provides ongoing support during that first vulnerable year of recovery.
  • Recovery community. Finding a group that you can become part of is essential. Check out the local A.A., N.A., or SMART Recovery groups in your area.
  • Sober living. Sometimes going home after rehab isn’t the best move. If you don’t have a support system at home, consider staying in sober living for a period.
  • Self-care. Create healthy lifestyle habits that will enhance your quality of life in recovery. Get enough sleep, stick to a healthy diet, and be sure to get regular exercise.

Executive 7 Day Detox Provides Drug Tapering Schedule

Executive 7 Day Detox is a premier detox and withdrawal program that helps people slowly wean themselves off drugs. Tapering drugs during detox can ease you through the withdrawal process and prepare you for rehab. If you have any questions about our program, please call us today at (800) 381-0827.

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