What Does the Phrase “Dope Sick” Mean to Drug Abusers?

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What Does the Phrase “Dope Sick” Mean to Drug Abusers?

When a drug user talks about being dope sick, he or she is referring to the withdrawal symptoms. In fact, most users consider dope sickness a product of detoxing from opiates.  However, 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 using.  Of course, without professional detox, these symptoms can keep a person seeking more of the drug.  They’ll do almost anything to get rid of those annoying or painful symptoms.

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms of Being Dope Sick

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 dope sick symptoms from opiates. Some state they also have the sensation of bugs crawling on or under the skin.  This sensation can lead to self-harm from scratching or slapping at the sensations. Additionally, some mention strange and unique physical sensations.  For instance, these can include being hyper-aware of their breathing, heartbeat or other feelings. Other symptoms could include severe dry mouth, thirst, intense headaches, sweating, uncontrollable yawning, and problems with balance.

Emotional Side Effects of Becoming Dope Sick

The National Library of Medicine, a subsidiary of the National Institute of Health, lists a broad range of mental and emotional issues that recovering addicts may struggle with, including:

  • Mental agitation, to 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.

Overall, the majority of addicts undergoing detox state that mental and emotional aspects are terrible.  However, there are anecdotal stories which claim that detox brought on a sense of euphoria or of leaving the body entirely. Of course, 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.

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Getting Help to End Addiction

Overall, residential inpatient treatment is among the best options for recovery. 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.

Are you having problems with being dope sick and are ready to make a positive change in your life?  If so, an inpatient treatment facility can help you handle the stresses of withdrawal. Don’t delay. A wide range of treatment options is available to help.


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