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Drug withdrawals are described as some of the worst feelings in the world. The physical pain, the mental anguish, the feelings of being alone and lost: it all adds up to some of the most difficult times in a person’s life. Addicts live complicated lives, and then they have to make the difficult choice to put themselves through, what some have described as torture, in order to get clean. And the fear of those withdrawal symptoms can stop an addict from getting the help they need. There have been cases where addicts have died trying to get clean on their own. Without the proper help and support — and medication — to ease the symptoms of withdrawal, addicts are not always able to face the pain and feelings on their own. Some resort to suicide, while others die from complications associated with the physical pain and the wear and tear that their bodies have endured. Let’s look at why drug withdrawal can be deadly for some addicts and how they can help themselves by seeking treatment.

Common drug withdrawal symptoms include irritability, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, food and drink cravings, sleeplessness, restlessness, seizures, increased heart rate, decreased respirations, sweating, extreme chills and shakes, pain in the stomach and muscle cramps throughout the body. These are to be expected. When it comes to life threatening withdrawal symptoms, the ability to “survive” withdrawal greatly depends on the individual health and strength of the person. For example, a person with a heart condition is going to be more susceptible to heart attack or stroke because the heart and blood flow are already compromised. The stress of the withdrawal can shock their body into shutting down.

There are many medications that can be given to addicts trying to get clean, but these are only available through a recovery program, and sometimes through walk in clinics in certain countries in the world. For example, there are methadone clinics around the world where addicts can get a daily dose of methadone to help them stay off harder drugs, such as crystal meth or cocaine. The reality of dying from withdrawal is more about the sensation that people feel than the actual impact of their symptoms. People “feel like” they are going to die, and it makes them feel like they want to do. It’s a situation of being in a rock and a hard place. They want to get clean but getting clean is hard.

Recovery programs can provide a safe and supportive environment for addicts to start getting clean. Most recovery programs offer inpatient services where users can go through their withdrawal symptoms with the aid of medication, medical staff, and the support they need to make sure they don’t hurt themselves or give in to the temptation to relapse. Ultimately, there is no guarantee that a person won’t die from withdrawal symptoms; it is highly unlikely according to research, but there are elements of personal strength and the desire to change their lives that are at play. Every addict is different, and that’s why it’s important to seek professional help. There’s no need to go it alone.