Addictive Substances Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms

See this detailed breakdown of the common symptoms, resulting side effects and withdrawal issues associated with specific substances.

Alcohol

Effects to Self and Family

Effects to Body

Withdrawal Symptoms

Detox Protocol

  • Slows down thoughts, reflexes and actions
  • Altered perception
  • Mood-altering
  • Disinhibiting
  • Cardiovascular, Liver and kidney disease
  • Inflammatory to the GI tract
  • Neuropathy
  • Psychological disorders
  • Seizures
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Hallucinations, delirium
  • Tremors
  • Heart attacks, strokes
  • Can be life-threatening
  • Frequent assessment
  • Valium/Ativan, ancillary medications

Prescription Opioids

Benzodiazepine: Ambien/Ambien CR, Xanax, Librium, Serax, Dalmane, Restoril, Buspar, Sonata, Lunesta, Fioricet, Soma, Zolpidem, Chlordiazepate, Chlordiazepoxide, Klonopin, Tranxene, Valium, Ativan, Doral, Halcion, Rozerem

Effects to Self and Family

Effects to Body

Withdrawal Symptoms

Detox Protocol

  • Neglect of responsibilities i.e. work, home, school, children
  • Legal problems
  • No interest in doing normal things
  • Confusion, dizziness, poor short term memory
  • Mood swings
  • Poor judgment
  • Altered perception
  • Visual Changes
  • Danger operating machinery due to drowsiness
  • OD an emergency; signs may include nervous system changes, decreased vital signs, cold/clammy skin, bluish lips
  • Crankiness
  • Headaches
  • Bad dreams
  • Loss of libido; sexual dysfunction
  • Skin rashes
  • Weight gain
  • Menstrual problems
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Feeling nervous/tense
  • Confusion/depression
  • Fear, paranoia
  • Anxiety, panic
  • Changed senses
  • Shaking
  • Pain, stiffness, muscle aches, spasms
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Valium/Ativan taper to reduce seizure risk, maximize comfort
  • Drug accumulates with prolonged, heavy use
  • Elderly more sensitive to benzos due to decreased liver, kidney function

Opiates

Opium, Hydromorphone, Oxymorphone, Heroin, Morphine, Oxycodone, Talwin, Codeine, Methadone, Meperidine, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Percocet, Percodan, Lortabs, Norco

Effects to Self and Family

Effects to Body

Withdrawal Symptoms

Detox Protocol

  • Damage to internal organs after long-term use
  • Depression of body processes and central nervous system
  • Cognitive decline
  • Strong psychic dependence; high risk of cross-addiction
  • Intense cravings
  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation
  • Drowsiness, tiredness
  • Decreased libido
  • Respiratory depression
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Loss of consciousness, coma
  • Confusion, clouding of mental function
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Reduced vision
  • Extremely uncomfortable/frightening
  • Recurring symptoms over a longer period of time than other detox because excretion more gradual
  • Persistent
  • Most challenging detox
  • Use of Buprenorphine, ancillary medications
  • Push fluids, exercise, rest, nutrition
  • Managing anxiety/sleep issues
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Biofeedback
  • Support from various staff/peers
  • Learning new skills/developing supports to deal with symptoms, cravings
  • Participation in program encouraged soon as able
  • Work together with staff to achieve maximum comfort

Cocaine or Crack

Effects to Self and Family

Effects to Body

Withdrawal Symptoms

Detox Protocol

  • Sudden mood swings
  • Increased risk of suicide and violence towards others
  • Damage to central nervous system
  • Anxiety, paranoia
  • Skin irritability
  • Heart attacks, heart failure
  • Respiratory problems, failure
  • Malnourishment
  • Can be fatal
  • High incidence of stroke, seizure, respiratory failure, MI, convulsions, death, aggression, suicide, hallucinations
  • Baclofen, ancillary medications

Marijuana

Effects to Self and Family

Effects to Body

Withdrawal Symptoms

Detox Protocol

  • Decreased motivation
  • Poor performance at work, school
  • Poor communication due to difficulty focusing
  • Isolation from others due to mood/behavior changes
  • Gateway drug
  • Altered perception
  • Fertility issues
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Decreased appetite
  • Kills brain cells and damages central nervous system
  • Damage to immune system
  • Difficulty forming/ recollecting memories
  • Withdrawal is not dangerous
  • Increased appetite
  • Mood fluctuations
  • Assessment and testing for permanent damage
  • No detox medications needed

Methamphetamines

Effects to Self and Family

Effects to Body

Withdrawal Symptoms

Detox Protocol

  • Family, financial, legal, job loss, school
  • Irritable, hostile, violent
  • Confrontational personality
  • Increase in risky sexual behaviors
  • Increased risk of sexually transmitted/blood-borne viruses i.e., Hepatitis B, C, HIV
  • Permanent damage to body even if stop i.e., teeth
  • Violent mood swings i.e. depression/insomnia to anxiety/paranoia
  • Brain damage to the dopamine system
  • Gateway drug
  • Similar to that of cocaine and other stimulants
  • Anxiety, sleep issues
  • Depression
  • Detox medications similar to those used for cocaine and other stimulants

Barbiturates

Brevital, Pentothal, Surital, Amytal, Nembutal, Seconal, Tuinal, Fiorinal, Butisol, Lotusate, Alurate, Luminal, Mebaral

Effects to Self and Family

Effects to Body

Withdrawal Symptoms

Detox Protocol

  • Behavior disturbances
  • Dulled effect
  • Cognitive changes
  • Dependence primarily psychic, affecting the mind/CNS
  • Cross addiction
  • Unpredictable, frightening, may be life-threatening
  • Detox with Valium/Ativan and ancillary medications

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