When a drug user is speaking of being dope sick, he or she is referring to the withdrawal symptoms from coming off of drugs. Most users consider dope sickness a product of detoxing from opiates, although others may use the term when describing withdrawal from other substances. The symptoms of withdrawal encompass emotional and physical changes that can last anywhere from a few days to over a month, depending on the user, their substance of choice and how much they were accustomed to taking.
The Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
Harvard Medical School lists many symptoms of opiate withdrawal, including:
- tremors and shaking
- muscle aches and spasms, including ‘restless’ muscles
- hot and cold flashes
- digestion disruptions, including loss of appetite or a huge return of appetite
- an insatiable desire to eat
- vomiting, diarrhea and, sometimes, constipation
Some addicts also list a plethora of unpleasant symptoms upon experiencing withdrawal from opiates. Some state they have the sensation of bugs crawling on or under the skin, which can lead to self-harm from scratching or slapping at the sensations. Others mention bizarre and unique physical sensations, such as being hyper-aware of their breathing, heartbeat or other feelings that largely pass unnoticed by those not undergoing withdrawal. Other symptoms could possibly include severe dry mouth, an insatiable urge to drink, intense headaches, sweating, uncontrollable yawning and problems with balance.
Emotional Side Effects of Opiate Withdrawal
The National Library of Medicine, a subsidiary of the National Institute of Health, lists a wide range of mental and emotional issues that recovering addicts may struggle with, including:
- Mental agitation, to the the point that it is quite easy for the recovering addict to fly into a rage or to cry over small issues.
- Anxiety, ranging from slight feelings of unease to paralyzing paranoia.
- Frustration at tasks the person may otherwise find simple.
- Overwhelming feelings of depression, despondency, loneliness or worthlessness.
While the vast majority of addicts undergoing detox state that mental and emotional aspects are terrible, there are anecdotal stories which claim that detox brought on a sense of euphoria or of leaving the body entirely. Almost any emotional state could be experienced during withdrawal, so it’s important that the loved ones of the addict are prepared for all possibilities.
Getting Help to End Addiction
Residential inpatient treatment is among the best options for addicts hoping to break free of using. In a facility, the addict can expect to have his or her health monitored, and may have the opportunity to seek cognitive behavioral therapy. It is also healthy for addicts to have others around who understand the struggles of detox and can lend a sympathetic ear.
If you or a loved one are experiencing dope sickness and are ready to make a positive change in your life, an inpatient treatment facility can help you handle the stresses of withdrawal. Don’t delay. There are a wide range of treatment options available to help those who want to get clean, so seek one out and make a huge change in your life today.