There is a trend that, while always ubiquitous in society, is on the rise more than ever. When it comes to getting hooked on something, one never thinks about the difficulty involved in breaking the habit. It’s a serious matter and this top 15 will list the worst things to withdraw from. We’ll shed some light for those who don’t realize how bad it can get and what makes it so hard to walk away.
The user must have their epiphany; their eureka moment. Only then will they be ready for the long road ahead. A road that runs the wall of a canyon, the hard stone wall on the right and the bottomless abyss to the left. This road they will walk for the rest of their lives. While it may be tumultuous and foreboding from the looming cloak of relapse, it beats the alternatives. Prison and/or death.
Withdrawal is actually one of the biggest reasons behind relapse. Some are so painful you wish you would die, while others really can kill you. Some of the substances on the list may surprise you. You may say “that’s no drug.” Well, what is a drug? We could surmise that a drug is anything that alters your body’s chemistry and acts as a stimulant or depressant. Think about that next time you get your daily five dollar cup of coffee. Addiction plagues many of us, some forms are socially acceptable, others are surrounded by stigma. Majority rules.
*40-60% of addicts will relapse after treatment
15. Paxil (Paroxetine)
This prescription pill is somewhat of a go-to antidepressant. Paxil is one of the most prescribed of its kind. First marketed in 1993, the mood stabilizer became the staple medication for depression. Then in 2003, the formula was made publicly available as the patent expired on the ten-year mark. Thus, the generic option was created adding scores of patients to paroxetine’s user list. When patients who were being taken off the drug complained of strange sensations as if being shocked, having heightened senses, and panic attacks, the medical community denied that it was withdrawal. It just wasn’t possible, it wasn’t habit-forming. Albeit, there were other problems for the wonder drug to be concerned about.
Patients wanted to get off paroxetine in droves. The side effects include panic attacks, delayed ejaculation or none at all, depression, agitation, aggression, mood swings, and suicidal thoughts. Nonetheless, as the patients stopped, the signs that something was wrong became more prevalent.
GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of the drug, says that discontinuation syndrome, a fancy term for withdrawal, is “mild and short-lived” and only occurs in 0.02% of terminating patients. But then why did the FDA issue a warning regarding “severe” discontinuation syndrome for users of the drug? For some, it may be “short-lived”, but there are others saying they have lived with it for years.
While the obvious withdrawal from food is starvation, there are some who suffer from an addiction to eating which has nothing to do with hunger. Like many narcotics, food is addictive because eating feels good, ergo, it triggers the release of dopamine in the brain, which causes a sense of euphoria. The difference between loving to eat and an addiction to food is that the user will continue to eat even after he/she is full, will become depressed (if they aren’t already), and can even die from complications due to poor health.
What makes food addiction withdrawal one of the worst is that unlike other substances that can be avoided by abstinence, everyone must eat. While most side effects of the withdrawal are mental, an addiction to food is no easier to overcome. One especially difficult aspect is the presence of sugar in our diets. Recent research likens sugar addiction to cocaine addiction. It’s alarming that studies have actually shown that rats already addicted to cocaine actually will switch over and prefer sugar when given the choice.
This substance was created in madness. During World War II, soldiers were administered amphetamines to keep them not only alert on the battlefield but it also reduced costs since troops high on speed ate less. Used during prolonged battles when the armies would be awake for days and fatigue could lead to a loss, amphetamines were a part of the rations next to the cigarettes.
Fast forward to the present and the original recipe has been turned into the horrid crystal substance we see today. The drug is home-cooked in basements, kitchens, and even RVs. The user will go on binges and remain wide-eyed for days, and to avoid the inevitable crash, will do and take anything to afford more meth. However, what goes up must come down, and the withdrawal from this stimulant is a heavy cross to bear.
Withdrawal can include insomnia, intense cravings, apathy, chronic physical pain throughout the body, paranoia, and even hallucinations. The combination of the drug and lack of sleep can cause a nightmare that the user believes can only end with another fix. Detox time frame is one to three weeks with a high chance of relapse during recovery.
12. Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid (GHB)
This chemical compound is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain and has found use as a psychoactive substance. In medical practice, GHB is used as an anesthetic and treatment for narcolepsy, cataplexy, and alcoholism in small monitored doses. On the other hand, it found illicit use in performance enhancement as a stimulant and more widely known as the “date rape” drug. Users take small doses that give them a euphoric feeling and claim that it enhances their experience in nightclubs and other party settings. However, in larger doses, it is used for the purposes of rendering the victim unconscious and in most cases the unsuspecting target is sexually assaulted with no memory, or at the most a fuzzy recollection, of what happened.
With prolonged use of GHB, withdrawal symptoms may lead to delirium rather quickly (within 24 hours), soon begins the storm of delirium tremens, the DTs. When that commences, the real possibility of death rears its ugly head and hovers over the patient for the next fourteen days. Confusion, delirium, and psychosis are included in the list of nightmares that the patient experiences with the DTs. Fourteen days in this state is an eternity. Without proper medical supervision, delirium tremens can cause seizures and death. It is exceedingly important to spot the signs and get the detoxing user to a medical facility straight away.
A person who once tried this volatile common street drug said, “After the first hit you start to look around your apartment. Looking at your stuff, looking to see what you can sell to buy more crack.” The high from smoking cocaine is described in many unique ways and summarized here as: absolute bliss, extreme euphoria— and it lasts for about ten minutes.
The intensity of the high and the rush from smoking cocaine versus snorting it is what causes so many to wander over the line and become one of the most notorious junkies in the drug world. A person who becomes ensnared by crack addiction is usually easily spotted; disheveled appearance, unhealthy body weight, psychosis, paranoia and the uncontrollable urge to score the next hit.
The withdrawal symptoms are much like those of meth and just as severe; agitation, aggression, inability to feel pleasure, paranoia, depression, and sleep problems. As well, the psychological withdrawal can be the biggest battle with any narcotic, especially seeing as it gets more intense as the high gets stronger.
Cigarettes are really one of those “What the F-” moments in history. One almost wonders how any logical person could not conclude that inhaling smoke directly into one’s lungs would cause at least some adverse effect? Nevertheless, cigarettes are still prevalent today and continue to find new “customers” daily. The price for a pack of twenty cigarettes is just about the cost of other substances on the streets, for just as small an amount too.
Nicotine users have one of the highest relapse rates of any other substance. While withdrawal symptoms are mostly manageable, yet unbearable at the same time, and can range from restlessness and agitation to loss of appetite and nausea. It goes without saying that there is an intense craving that lingers and, according to many, never leaves you. Most smokers who try and quit will relapse an average of three times before a period of prolonged abstinence occurs. There is a myth that the worst of it is the first three days, however, it takes the body up to fourteen days to purge itself of the toxin and during this time, the body will crave it more.
That’s right. It’s a drug, a stimulant, as a matter of fact, and if you don’t think you are addicted, we challenge you to check your bank statement and see how many days you actually went without your coffee. Caffeine, while legal, is a substance with habit-forming properties (there is a reason rational individuals don’t bat an eye spending six dollars on a cup of java that actually costs fifty cents).
Withdrawal symptoms include, headache, nausea, weight gain, tremors, and can last for months in acute form. However, it is not realized as an addiction and most users will be life-long java junkies. At its worse, caffeine withdrawal causes flu-like symptoms, heart rhythm abnormalities, and those in detox have stated it was as if they were dying.
A single can of cola contains up to 63mg of caffeine, an energy drink up to 160mg, and an average coffee from a well-known chain offers up 415mg per 20oz. The daily intake of caffeine recommended by health professionals is zero, however, it is strongly urged that no more than 400mg of caffeine per day be consumed— and that’s in a perfectly healthy adult.
8. Cocaine Hydrochloride
While crack is cocaine in its own form, the popular version is the white dust that had its Golden Age in the 1980s and is, while in decline, still in use as the ultimate party drug today. Bolivian Marching Powder delivers an almost instant rush of euphoria and a feeling of calm and affability for hours. The initial rush can last up to five whole minutes but the side effects of the friendly and casual devil-may-care demeanor carry on. There is an old one-liner “Coke’s a joke .. unless it’s free!” Meaning, it’s really not worth buying, but if it’s there, it might as well be used. Well, no matter the nonchalance of some, it’s still a serious narcotic that causes many people to become enslaved by it through addiction.
The long term effects can cause irreversible damage to the body, in particular the nasal passages, and can also lead to heart attack or stroke. Withdrawal includes the standard symptoms and resembles those of meth and crack. Its hold over the mind, however, is strong (though not as much as crack), and those in recovery have a difficult time since it requires an extreme lifestyle change as the drug had been present in almost all aspects of their life.
A prescription pain reliever that is among the strongest of opiate-based pain relievers, Ultram (Tramadol), is used to treat chronic and severe pain unable to be managed by other less powerful medications. While it doesn’t offer a euphoric feeling or rush like other opiates, the narcotic can induce an intense feeling of relaxation and calm for the user. The effects entice recreational users and those addicted from even medical use to abuse the pill.
Withdrawal symptoms are the common ones among the other opiate narcotics on this list. However, it has a more powerful hold over the user’s mind than most, it wasn’t supposed to be so habit-forming, in fact, some say it was supposed to offer a reduction in abuse since there was no instant gratification, no rush. Despite good intentions, if an altered state can be induced, there is potential for abuse. Due to its subtle effects, death rates are actually higher than one would expect.
6. Mobile Phones
Think about it. Could you do away with it right now?— well, right after you finish reading this. How long would you last without it, and could you remain in control not having it? Would you be able to give it up for good?
Cell phone addiction is a real problem all over the world. Everywhere, people are glued to screens, heads down, and earbuds in. A study done at Baylor University suggests that addiction to one’s mobile can lead to materialism, vanity, dulling of senses, disconnection from reality, and even a drop in IQ. There is a higher chance in children developing learning disorders or mood swings induced by digital addiction, and there is even a small risk of dissociation all together, creating a creature of apathy or at worst a sociopath.
Symptoms of addiction include panic attacks if phone is misplaced, using it all the time even in dangerous situations such as driving, and becoming confused and panicked when the battery is running low with no way to charge it. Though withdrawal may not be painful, and remains on a psychological level, it’s like food; full recovery may be hindered by the fact that in order to communicate with loved ones and required services, one needs a phone. The old slippery slope.
These pills are prescribed to treat severe panic attacks and are a strong sedative. Xanax is from this family of controlled substances. Doctors are apprehensive to even prescribe them and advise that one taper off of them versus quitting cold turkey. Like any sedative, ‘benzos’ make the patient relaxed, and docile, but mostly sleepy. The goal is to bring the patient down from an uncontrollable, elevated state, a panic attack, and return the patient to normalcy. Of course, there are recreational users as well, odd as that may be. Again, it’s a sedative that generally puts the user to sleep. Perhaps sleeping is the new high? No matter, the illicit use of benzodiazepines is at a critical state and overdoses from the pill are astronomical.
Pills like Xanax, Kolonopin, and others are a national crisis and are widely used among teens and young adults. The medication increases GABA levels (Google it) in one’s brain and also increases productivity. This chemical reaction reduces excitability and promotes the feeling of calm relaxation. However, the sedative builds up a tolerance rather quickly and the user finds himself taking more and more to get his high. If use is stopped abruptly and without moderation, one can find themselves engulfed with nervousness, paranoia, depression, and increased severe panic attacks.
4. Social Media
It’s a real problem not only with teens but just about everybody suffers from the addiction to social media. Committing time to writing posts about trivial daily events in the hopes that people will click a tiny blue thumb giving the poster validation. There is a misconception that those who ‘follow’ or ‘friend’ us on these platforms are our friends. This is a dubious position and if you ever meet someone whom has over a thousand friends, ask them how many are real. There are many users that cannot go more than a few minutes without checking for Tweets, status updates, pics, and the oh-so-popular videos about cats.
Research has shown that when social media is removed from the life of an addict, they exhibit signs of agitation, aggression, depression, and severe mood swings. When the user is disconnected from the Net, they feel as if they’re missing out on everything and for some, the thought is more than they can bear. Every participant in the study instantly returned to their profiles upon completion.
Most likely one of the worst substances ever created. This concoction has arguably done more harm than good and although it’s caused more death, crime, and violence than any other drug, one is free to purchase as much of it as they’d like. Most people have it in moderation, some don’t at all, and still others sparingly on special occasions or social settings. Compared to other drugs, alcohol is cheap and readily available.
Unfortunately, there are some who go from a drink after work, to drinking every night, to drinking in the morning, and finally to drinking nonstop. Alcohol impairs motor skills, judgment, logic, and reasoning skills, and, as we all know, reduces inhibitions. It decreases overall brain activity, and causes damage to the liver, kidneys, and stomach. More crimes are committed while under the influence of alcohol than any other and if it wasn’t for public intoxication, DUI, and alcohol-induced domestic violence, jails could be over fifty percent under the current populations.
Alcoholism is at the top of the ‘improbable successful recovery’ list, and the reasons are many. Withdrawal is not to be taken lightly, as we discussed earlier, delirium tremens, the DTs, is to be expected. For a heavy drinker, tremors, elevated blood pressure, hallucinations, and delirium. Seizures can result, as well as death. Delirium tremens is a serious matter and should be treated as a medical emergency.
Despite opiate-based painkillers being a problem there is opium in its purest form; heroin. A product of the poppy plant, this substance is quite possibly the most powerful drug in the world. In just 24 hours of consistent use, the individual is addicted and now needs to administer the narcotic at least every four hours. Users experience a burst in energy, a feeling of euphoria and a general pleasant outlook. However, tolerance builds quickly and a state of subdued emotions and an apathetic approach to everything except getting more smack takes over. One user said they chose to quit abusing heroin when one day they realized that after the first few weeks, the feeling they got from the drug was comparable to using marijuana.
Known for its withdrawal symptoms, heroin is, although one cannot die from it, has worse withdrawal feeling than even alcohol. With booze you might die, but heroin will make you wish, even beg, for it. Restlessness, agitation, elevated vitals, anxiety, panic attacks, severe nausea, and diarrhea (opiates are notorious for causing constipation, so when they are stopped the production line snaps back to action), depression, and suicidal thoughts. One in three heroin users will remain clean after treatment for at least five years, the other two are out ‘chasing the dragon’ within the first two months of recovery.
This substance is supposed to be an aid in abstinence from opiates. Heroin users and prescription pill patients all have the same future. In order to make it manageable, methadone was created as a measured dose medication to curb the symptoms. However, the primary ingredient in methadone? Opiates. The plan was that by using measured doses that are reduced over time, the patient could taper off, and eventually, be free of symptoms.
Consequently, it turns out that methadone is just as addictive as the substance the user was originally addicted to. Withdrawal symptoms are a guarantee no matter the dose. This causes anxiety in the patient, which can lead to lifelong dependency on the medicine or going back to the original drug. There are some in methadone “recovery” that have been using the symptom reduction aid for over twenty years. Also, without proper insurance, the dose can cost about the same as the original drug of choice, which can make it easier to justify relapse.
*Methadone is currently considered the number one cause of narcotic-related deaths in the US.