People who drink Alcohol on a regular basis become tolerant to many of the unpleasant effects, and thus are able to drink more before suffering these effects. Yet even with increased consumption, many such drinkers don't appear intoxicated. Because they continue to work and socialize reasonably well, their deteriorating physical condition may go unrecognized by others until severe damage develops - or until they are hospitalized for other reasons and suddenly experience alcohol Withdrawal symptoms.
Psychological addiction to alcohol may occur with regular use of even relatively moderate daily amounts. It may also occur in people who consume alcohol only under certain conditions, such as before and during social occasions. This form of addiction refers to a craving for alcohol's psychological effects, although not necessarily in amounts that produce serious intoxication. For psychologically addicted drinkers, the lack of alcohol tends to make them anxious and, in some cases, panicky.
Physical addiction to alcohol occurs in consistently heavy drinkers. Since their bodies have adapted to the presence of alcohol, they suffer alcohol Withdrawal if they suddenly stop drinking. Alcohol Withdrawal symptoms range from jumpiness, sleeplessness, sweating, and poor appetite, to tremors (the "shakes"), convulsions, hallucinations, and sometimes death.
Alcohol Withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
• Sweating or Rapid Pulse
• Increased Hand Tremor
• Nausea or Vomiting
• Physical Agitation
• Transient Visual, Tactile or Auditory Hallucinations or Illusions
• Grand Mal Seizures
Alcohol is a drug that produces a dual effect on the body: a primary depressant effect that lasts a relatively short time, and a weaker agitation of the central nervous system that persists about six times as long as the depressant effect. Awareness of these two effects may depend upon the degree of excitability of the central nervous system at the time of drug administration. This, in turn, depends on the environmental setting of drug use and on the personality of the user.
In a quiet, non-social environment, the excitatory influence may be impaired, and the sedation and drowsiness produced by the drugs are then readily perceived as depression of the central nervous system.
In a social setting, where there is a great deal of sensory input, the effects of low doses of alcohol may be perceived as stimulation. However, these effects are the result of the release from inhibition of specific areas of the brain cortex. The drinker may demonstrate excitement-- such as talkativeness, heightened vivacity, increased self-confidence, and general loss of self restraint. As the dose is increased, and during chronic intoxication, the alcohol produces more of the same effects. There may be slurred speech, staggering, loss of emotional control, stupor from which arousal is difficult, severe respiratory depression, coma, and death.
With prolonged or chronic drinking, the presence of the dual effects depends on the time that elapses between drinking episodes. Since the depressant effects are greater, they will be significant for the first two hours after the last drink. As the time since the last drink increases, the longer-lasting agitation effect becomes dominant. This effect eventually leads to morning drinking to calm the drinker. The "morning after" hangover and shakiness is due to the residual central nervous system agitation. This agitation can be temporarily counter-balanced by more drinking because of its dominant depressant effect. Thus, a vicious circle is in motion. Withdrawal symptoms eventually include restlessness, shakiness, confusion, hyperventilation, hallucination, and convulsions. The chronic loss of calcium and magnesium, general malnutrition, and dehydration contribute to these symptoms. Symptoms are usually far more dangerous than those after withdrawal from the opiates or other drugs to which physical dependence may be developed. Severity of the symptoms depends on the length of alcohol abuse and the degree of intoxication. In the typical course of withdrawal, symptoms begin within the first 24 hours after the last drink, reach their peak intensity within two or three days, and disappear within one or two weeks. During the first day of withdrawal, there may be headaches, anxiety, involuntary twitching of muscles, tremor of hands, weakness, insomnia, and nausea.
During the next 48 hours, the symptoms become progressively more intense. There may be a fall in blood pressure; fever; delirium characterized by disorientation, delusions, and visual hallucinations; and convulsions similar to those exhibited in grand mal epileptic seizures. The fever, delirium, and convulsions are the most serious symptoms and have proved fatal in a number of instances.Aside from withdrawal itself, alcohol has a pervasive effect on the body's gastrointestinal tract, liver, bloodstream, brain and nervous system, heart, muscles, and endocrine system. Alcohol, unlike other drugs, can be utilized by the body as a source of energy. This supply of calories often suppresses appetite, leading to dietary deficiencies that may be responsible in part for the pathologic conditions seen in chronic alcoholism. Early alcoholic drinking may produce the following specific medical conditions:
• Loss of control of eye muscles
• Increased susceptibility to infections
• Cardiac arrhythmia
• Constant flushing of facial edema
• Peripheral neuritis
• Increase in blood alcohol level
• Withdrawal signs
• Fatty liver
• Increase in blood pressure
Chronic alcohol drinking produces even more severe conditions, some of which may be irreversible, such as:
• Liver damage
• Korsokoff Syndrome (vitamin B deficiency)
• Brain damage
• Cancer of the tongue, mouth, or pharynx, hypo pharynx, oesophagus, and liver
These specific medical conditions show how extensive and pervasive the effects of heavy drinking are to health. The extent of damage is shown by the finding that the brains of some alcoholics after death are so soft, pulpy, and deteriorated that they are not suitable for dissection by medical students who need to study brain structure.
Cocaine addiction can occur very quickly and be very difficult to break. Animal studies have shown that animals will work very hard (press a bar over 10,000 times) for a single injection of cocaine, choose cocaine over food and water, and take cocaine even when this behavior is punished. Animals must have their access to cocaine limited in order not to take toxic or even lethal doses. People addicted to cocaine behave similarly. They will go to great lengths to get cocaine and continue to take it even when it hurts their school or job performance and their relationships with loved ones.
Regular use of cocaine can lead to strong psychological dependence (addiction). Those who abruptly stop their cocaine use can experience cocaine Withdrawal symptoms as they readjust to functioning without the drug. The length of cocaine Withdrawal varies from person to person and on the amount and frequency of use.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
• intense craving for the drug
• extreme fatigue
• angry outbursts
• lack of motivation
• muscle pain
• disturbed sleep
Crack Cocaine Withdrawal
The chemical cocaine hydrochloride is commonly known as crack. Some users chemically process cocaine in order to remove the hydrochloride. This process is called "freebasing" and makes the drug more potent. Users who become addicted will "crave" more of the drug as soon as the intoxicating effects wear off, if they do not get their regular dose.
Both cocaine and crack users bear witness to never quite being able to achieve again the intensity of their first few "highs". This leads to the phenomenon known as "chasing" in which the main motivation for using becomes reaching that particular state again. The lifestyle becomes increasingly frustrating, depressive, and desperate.
Because crack is an extremely powerful drug, crack addiction is inevitable. Once an individual has tried crack they may be unable to predict or control the extent to which they will continue to use. Crack is probably the most addictive substance yet devised. Crack users need more and more crack to attain the same high and avoid the intense "crash" or depression that follows their high. They become physically and psychologically dependent on crack, which often is a result of only a few doses taken within a few days. This dependence on crack leads to crack addiction. To balance off the intense lows, crack users often use other drugs, such as alcohol, hash or marijuana in addition to crack.
Crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
• extreme depression
• intense craving for the drug
• extreme fatigue
• angry outbursts
• lack of motivation
• muscle pain
• disturbed sleep
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Crystal Meth Withdrawal
Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug chemically related to amphetamine but with stronger effects on the central nervous system. Street names for the drug include "speed," "meth," "crystal," and "crank." Methamphetamine is used in pill form or in powdered form by snorting or injecting. Crystallized methamphetamine known as "ice," "crystal," or "glass," is a smokable and more powerful form of the drug.
Methamphetamine addiction has three patterns: low intensity, binge, and high intensity. Low-intensity addiction describes a user who does not have psychological addiction to the meth but uses methamphetamine on a casual basis by swallowing or snorting it. Binge and high-intensity abusers have a psychological addiction to meth and prefer to smoke or inject methamphetamine to achieve a faster and stronger high. Binge abusers use methamphetamine more than individuals with low-intensity meth addiction but less than individuals with a high-intensity meth addiction.
Long-term heavy use of amphetamines may lead to malnutrition, skin disorders, ulcers and diseases resulting from vitamin deficiencies. Regular use may contribute to lack of sleep and weight loss. Intravenous users are at risk for serious, life-threatening diseases such as AIDS, lung and heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases.
Frequent use of large amounts of amphetamines may eventually result in mental illness, suicide and violent death. Amphetamine-induced psychosis is a paranoid state that may develop after ingestion or the injection of large doses of amphetamines.
Other Long-Term Methamphetamine Effects
• disorganized lifestyle
• violent and aggressive behaviour
• ongoing, long term psychological problems
• behaviour resembling paranoid schizophrenia
• poor coping abilities
• disturbance of personality development
• lowered resistance to illnesses
• possible brain damage and deteriation
Meth Withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
• long, disturbed periods of sleep
• intense hunger
• moderate to severe depression
• psychotic reactions
Meth withdrawal, length and severity of depression is related to how much and how often Meth was used. While Chrystal Meth itself passes through the body's system within 24 - 48 hours, withdrawal symptoms including, cravings, exhaustion, depression, mental confusion, restlessness, insomnia, deep or disturbed sleep, may last for days or even weeks.
High Intensity meth users go beyond binging on the drug, they participate in what is known as tweaking. Tweaking is when the meth user has not slept in several days and is irritable and experiencing symptoms of paranoia. A meth user who is tweaking is experiencing intense cravings. However, no dosage will re-create the intense, euphoric high they are looking for.
The harmful effects of the drug on the brain and body could remain for years without proper psychological care and treatment.
Heroin Withdrawal (All Opiates)
Heroin (Opiate) Withdrawal symptoms are some of the nastiest an addict can experience compared to Withdrawal from any other drug. The individual who has become physically as well as psychologically dependent on heroin will experience heroin Withdrawal with an abrupt discontinuation of use or even a decrease in their daily amount of heroin taken. The onset of heroin Withdrawal symptoms begin six to eight hours after the last dose is administrated. Major heroin withdrawal symptoms peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose of heroin and subdue after about one week. The symptoms of heroin withdrawal produced are similar to a bad case of the flu.
Symptoms of Heroin/Opiate withdrawal include but are not limited to:
• dilated pupils
• piloerection (goose bumps)
• watery eyes
• runny nose
• loss of appetite
• muscle cramps
• stomach cramps
• chills or profuse sweating
Marijuana is a green or gray mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa). It is the most often used illegal drug in this country. All forms of cannabis are mind-altering (psychoactive) drugs; they all contain THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active chemical in marijuana. There are about 400 chemicals in a cannabis plant, but THC is the one that affects the brain the most.
Marijuana addiction is a phenomenon experienced by more than 150,000 individuals each year who enter treatment for their proclaimed addiction to marijuana. Marijuana addiction is characterized as compulsive, often uncontrollable marijuana craving, seeking, and use, even when the individual knows that marijuana use is not in his best interest. Marijuana addiction could be defined as chronically making the firm decision not to use marijuana followed shortly by a relapse due to experiencing overwhelming compulsive urges to use marijuana despite the firm decision not to. This contradiction is characteristic of an addiction problem.
Marijuana Withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
• physical tension
• decreases in appetite and mood
Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal first appear in chronic users within 24 hours. Marijuana withdrawal is most pronounced for the first 10 days and can last up to 28 days.
Short term effects:
• Feelings of euphoria, dizziness, lightheadedness, great power, or exhilaration.
• With higher doses, a person may become confused, agitated and disorientated. They may also experience abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting or chest pain.
• Extremely high doses may cause general muscle weakness, difficulty speaking and hallucinations
Because one of the effects of solvents is a feeling of invincibility, it is not uncommon for solvent abusers to engage in reckless behavior which can result in injury or death to themselves and others.
Long term effects:
• Sores on mouth and nose
• Weight loss
• Pale skin
• Numbness in hands and feet
• Movement disorder
• Kidney, lung and liver damage
Long term solvent use may cause brain damage. Some symptoms that have been found in long term users are:
• Difficulty learning
• Memory loss
• Uncontrollable eye movements
• Hearing loss
• Inability to think clearly
Psychological effects of long term use may include depression, irritability, paranoia, hostility,
Pattern of Withdrawal Symptoms:
Detoxification takes 14 to 30 days.
Withdrawal from solvents is similar to withdrawal to alcohol. Some withdrawal symptoms include:
• Muscular cramps
• Abdominal pains
• (Possibly) Hallucinations.
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