Drugs change our brain significantly when we intake them, especially on a daily basis. The majority of substances that people abuse react with the production or absorption to the neurotransmitter dopamine which regulates mood, feelings, will and memory. When the changes caused by the drugs become fixed, then a drug dependency forms and leaves sharp scars in the form of withdrawal symptoms.
These symptoms, which can come physically and psychologically, can reduce the chance of recovery for 50% as none of them are comfortable. The symptoms can even be life-threatening in some specific cases. Therefore, it is not recommended to start with “cold turkey” method where you suddenly stop quit using drugs and start withdrawal process on your own. Each addict and addiction type must be approached with the professional help and experience. Now, I will make a list of drugs that have hard withdrawal symptoms.
More than four million of Americans use heroin or its replacement drugs (prescription opioids) like OxyContin, Vicodin or Methadone. Heroin and those mentioned PDs can be snorted, smoked or injected for feeling the mellow and warm euphoric feeling called “high.” Opioid intoxication reflects regarding pain relief, relaxation and a rush of pleasure, which renders it as one of the strongest substance abuse. Heroin is famous for its harsh withdrawal symptoms – twelve hours from the last dose an addict starts feeling a crisis which peaks within a day or two. Those days are accompanied by the worst flu you could get, combined with sweating, chills, nausea, physical pain all over the body, insomnia, extreme irritability, depression and lack of mental clarity.
This powerful stimulant comes in the form of powder or rocks. Cocaine is usually snorted, although it can be smoked (crack cocaine) or injected (usually mixed with heroin-speedball), reflecting in extreme alertness, excitement, and euphoria. After the longer use, tolerance develops easily, and an addict needs more and more cocaine to reach the same effect and level. Cocaine is known for its “crash,” an extreme feeling of dullness, depression, and fatigue. The process of quitting the cocaine is followed by restlessness, intense drug craving, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Since the cocaine addiction is spreading like an epidemic, medical professionals developed propranolol – a beta blocker that may ease a bit the whole withdrawal process.
Methamphetamine is a strong stimulant, often made by DIY methods, that can often be found in the form of crystals, called crystal meth. Although the crystal meth is much more potent than methamphetamine in powder form, both forms develop a severe addiction, followed by heavy forms of psychosis, paranoia, and aggressiveness. Detox is usually the first step in the treatment process since addicts can control their cravings. Also, the patients are violent and can inflict serious damage to themselves as well as other people around them.
From my experience, I have had most problems with heroin since it has the hardest withdrawal process and requires from you to be cautious and aware of the problem you have all the time. I have used meth, cocaine as well as other drugs, but the heroin is the worst by far. During the days when the heroin is not available, you would sell anything to get it, including your friends and family.
People start using drugs to make their lives easier or to say – cope with problems much easier. Some people use drugs for recreational purposes for more than ten years continually and never get hooked on. But that percent of people is really small and they, as well as people who never used any drug, cannot realize how and why it’s hard to quit drugs.
Think of our brain as a vast communication center which receives and sends messages to process what we see, feel, hear, etc. Drugs use our neurotransmitters (messages) and can increase or decrease the production of these transmitters. They can even affect the time of activity or existence for our transmitters or “land” on natural receptors and artificially activate neurotransmitters. It means the drug starts affecting your chemical balance.
Drugs often produce more dopamine than natural dopamine activities like sex or eating your favorite meal. Therefore, it is much harder to resist the drug intake since it gives you more pleasure than anything else. Consequently, your brain does not even think about the drug; it thinks about the pleasure that drugs produce. The more dopamine drugs release, the harder is for your brain to keep up with the production of it. It eventually leads to depression and addiction later since nothing can produce enough dopamine so you could feel happy.
When your body is used to the drug, you start developing a tolerance. You need to take more and more to get to the same level of happiness. From the very first moment when you do not intake enough amount of drug, you start feeling weak. You are experiencing a withdrawal which can be very painful and uncomfortable, both physically and psychologically.
Process of withdrawal is tough when you decide to seek help after a long-term addiction. Your brain and your body are already accustomed to the drug, and you developed a so called habit. Only strong will, determination and support from your friends can help you to leave your habit behind.