It has been a long time since there have been updates to our once-permanent column about withdrawal syndrome and common and accessible steps for everyone to reduce the severity and intensity of symptoms that occur after stopping the use of any group of substances. Today on our menu – dissociative drug withdrawal.
What are Dissociative Drugs?
Dissociative drugs are a class of psychoactive substances that can cause a temporary disruption or dissociation of a person’s thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and sense of identity from their environment and body.
These drugs primarily work by interfering with the normal functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors, which are involved in memory, learning, and pain perception.
Dissociative drugs mostly function by blocking NMDA receptors, which are responsible for regulating the activity of the neurotransmitter glutamate. Glutamate plays a vital role in communication between nerve cells in the brain. When these receptors are blocked, there is a disruption in the transmission of signals, leading to altered perceptions and experiences.
Some common examples of dissociative drugs include:
Ketamine: Used medically as an anesthetic and for pain management, but can be abused for its dissociative effects.
Phencyclidine (PCP): Originally developed as an anesthetic, PCP is now a street drug known for its strong dissociative properties.
Dextromethorphan (DXM): Found in cough suppressants, DXM can produce dissociative effects at high doses when abused.
Nitrous Oxide: Also known as “laughing gas,” it is used as an anesthetic, but can cause dissociation when inhaled recreationally.
The effects of dissociative drugs can vary depending on the substance and the individual’s response, but common experiences may include feelings of detachment from reality, hallucinations, altered perceptions of time and space, and loss of coordination.
Symptoms of Dissociatives Withdrawal
Dissociative drug withdrawal refers to the set of physical and psychological symptoms that occur when someone who has been using dissociative drugs regularly stops or significantly reduces their drug intake. Withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the specific drug used and the individual’s level of dependence.
Regular use of dissociative drugs leads to changes in the brain’s chemistry and functioning. When the drug is suddenly removed, the brain struggles to regain its equilibrium, resulting in withdrawal symptoms. The NMDA receptors, which were previously blocked by the drug, may become hypersensitive during withdrawal, leading to a rebound effect and exacerbating symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms associated with dissociative drugs can include:
- Anxiety and depression
- Irritability and mood swings
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Intense drug cravings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion and cognitive difficulties
- Muscle aches and headaches
- Hallucinations or perceptual disturbances
These symptoms can occur within a few days to several weeks after quitting and can last for several weeks or longer. The length and severity of withdrawal can vary depending on the individual and their level of dissociative use.
How to Relieve Withdrawal Symptoms
Here are some steps you can take at home to help manage dissociative withdrawal syndrome:
Gradual Tapering: Abruptly stopping dissociative drugs can worsen withdrawal symptoms. Instead, a supervised gradual tapering off the drug is recommended, under the guidance of a healthcare professional. This approach helps the brain gradually adjust to reduced drug levels.
Supportive Environment: Surrounding oneself with a supportive and understanding environment can help manage emotional distress during withdrawal. Family, friends, or support groups can play a crucial role in providing encouragement and understanding.
Hydration and Nutrition: Staying hydrated and maintaining a balanced diet can aid in replenishing essential nutrients and supporting the body’s healing process.
Physical Activity: Engaging in light to moderate physical activities, such as walking or yoga, can help reduce stress and improve mood during withdrawal. Exercise when the general condition will allow. Start smoothly, with small walks or exercises. Don’t chase records and don’t rush. It should be a gradual and smooth process.
Mindfulness Techniques: Practicing mindfulness meditation or deep breathing exercises can help manage anxiety and promote relaxation.
Sleep Hygiene: Establishing a regular sleep routine and creating a calming bedtime environment can assist in managing sleep disturbances.
It’s essential to emphasize that managing withdrawal symptoms at home is only appropriate for mild cases. Severe withdrawal or a history of substance abuse may require professional medical supervision and intervention. If the withdrawal symptoms are severe or become unmanageable, seeking professional medical and psychological support is crucial. Healthcare professionals can provide appropriate treatment, counseling, or medications if necessary.
In conclusion, dissociative drugs are a class of substances that disrupt normal brain function, leading to altered perceptions and experiences. Dissociative drug withdrawal occurs when a person stops or reduces their regular use of these substances, leading to various physical and psychological symptoms.
Gradual tapering, a supportive environment, healthy lifestyle practices, and seeking professional help, if needed, are essential ways to alleviate withdrawal symptoms at home. However, for severe cases, professional medical intervention is highly recommended to ensure a safe and successful recovery.
It’s important to note that quitting dissociatives can be challenging, but it is possible with the right support and resources. Behavioral counseling and support groups can help manage withdrawal symptoms and increase the chances of success. If you or someone you know is struggling with dissociative addiction, it’s important to seek help from a doctor or addiction specialist for personalized treatment and support.
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