While there is no doubt that the dependence and addiction upon any substance or chemical can be dangerous and often extremely uncomfortable to detox from, there are only a few that are considered to be actually life-threatening or fatal substances.
It is no secret that overall, the process of detoxing from drugs and alcohol is not a pleasant one. This is the most common reason why most people choose to continue using. For those people who have tried to stop on their own in the past, and have failed due to the painful side effects of detoxing, there can often feel like no hope of quitting.
That doesn’t have to be the case. No one has to be doomed to live a life controlled by substances, and detox can often be the first step. Especially for those who are addicted to dangerous and fatal substances, detox is often the best and only option.
Otherwise known as “benzos”, this is a class of drugs that act as depressants in the central nervous system. They are primarily used to treat mental conditions such as anxiety, panic, muscle spasms, insomnia, seizures, and sometimes even alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
In a society where the rates of anxiety and insomnia are higher than ever, benzodiazepines have become somewhat of a household name. The most common of the medications are:
- Valium (diazepam)
- Ativan (lorazepam)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
When taken alone and as prescribed, these medications can be relatively safe, however, for people who take them recreationally, or who abuse their prescription, they can become extremely addictive, and extremely difficult to get off of.
Over the last decade, the rising numbers of overdose and misuse cases that have come from benzodiazepines are alarming. For example:
- According to SAMHSA, the number of ER visits that were benzo related increased by 150% between 2004 and 2011
- By a study released in the Journal of Pharmacy Practice, between 2003 and 2009, the number of overdose deaths that were Xanax related increased by 233.8%
It is no secret that our society has become extremely accepting of and dependant upon benzos for both medical and recreational purposes. That is why it’s so important that both parties are aware of the potential dangers that can come along with abusing the medication.
The Benzo Withdrawal Process
For people who are interesting in detoxing from this potentially fatal substance, it is important to understand why the withdrawal process can be so dangerous. Primarily, long-term or frequent use of these medications can result in physical dependence. When a person abruptly stops taking them after a long stretch, it can send the body into shock.
The severity of the withdrawal will always be dependent upon multiple factors such as the frequency of use, the length of use, the amount used, and any other medications or substances that could be taken in combination with the benzos.
The two most dangerous withdrawal symptoms are psychosis and seizures. Other common symptoms of benzo withdrawal are:
- Anxiety, Panic
- Tremors, muscle pains, stiffness
- Headaches and Poor Concentration
- Heart Palpitations and high blood pressure
Another common withdrawal effect from the sudden absence of benzos in the system is a rebound effect of the old symptoms that were previously treated by the medication to return, and sometimes with greater intensity. For example, if a person went onto the medication to ease anxiety and insomnia, stopping use suddenly can result in extreme flare-ups of these symptoms.
When left untreated, and without medical detox, all of the side effects can actually worsen, and many have the ability to result in death.
There is a pretty bold line between the casual weekend drinker and the alcoholic, and while both groups will experience side effects of alcohol withdrawal, those who engage in frequent and excessive drinking behaviors will find that their effects can often be debilitating. Alcohol withdrawal is the next fatal substance that requires medical detox.
For those who suffer from alcohol addiction, the two most common factors that differentiate their drinking habits are; once they start, they cannot control the amount they drink, or, they have difficulty or the complete inability to stay stopped, despite a desire to do so.
According to a study performed by SAMHSA, over 140 million Americans, aged 12 and older, use or abuse alcohol. The effects of long-term drinking on the body and in undeveloped, teenage brains, can cause significant damage to the brain, liver, and heart.
Those withdrawal symptoms from this potentially fatal substance that occur in more mild detox cases include:
- Tremors and muscle spasms
- Nausea, migraines, and fatigue
- Confusion and agitation
- Seizures and Hallucinations
The more dangerous end of the detoxification spectrum from alcohol can look like:
- Increased Heart Rate
- Increased Blood Pressure
- Lung Failure
When undergoing detox from this potentially fatal substance in a medical facility, a doctor will conduct a thorough physical and mental evaluation. This will help the doctor be aware of which and if any medications to provide the individual to soothe the withdrawal side effects. These often include low-dose medications to help with the physical and mental symptoms that are more prevalent in alcohol detoxes such as anxiety, insomnia, and muscle pains.
The Overall Benefits of Detox
It is extremely important for individuals who are struggling with a fatal substance use disorder to seek a medical facility for the detox and withdrawal process. Not only can the individual be given a personalized regimen of medications to help soothe the process, but they will also be monitored, around the clock, by trained medical staff.
The few day processes allow the individual to be separated from the temptation to go back to that drink or drug when they are in the midst of the side effects from the withdrawal process. When it comes to fatal substances, a relapse during the withdrawal period, especially if the person is malnourished, dehydrated, exhausted, or in an unsafe situation, can often be fatal.
Getting Sober With Restore
At the end of the day, some of us require a bit of additional help before comfortably moving into any type of sober residence. Addiction will show up at your door with both barrels blazing and it’s up to us as the alcoholics we are to know how to handle it appropriately. Nobody wants to be a victim of this disease. If you or your loved one is ready to leave substance dependency behind and start a new way of life, please contact us. Our teams of specialists are waiting to explore your options with a drug detox center.