Alcohol is one of the few substances that can result in death during withdrawal. Fortunately, alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) can be treated using medication-assisted therapy (MAT), an approach which significantly reduces the likelihood of life-threatening symptoms occurring.
According to research, about 1 in 20 people who suffer from alcohol withdrawal syndrome also experience delirium tremens, a reaction characterized by severe confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, and seizures. Among those, 5% will die, but studies show that this rate drops significantly when medical care is received.
Without medical care, patients with liver cirrhosis, pneumonia, or other chronic illnesses may also be more likely to die during withdrawal syndrome.
Opioid/Opiate Abuse and Addiction
Opiates and opioids are powerful painkillers that also have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Opioids and opiates include both prescription analgesics such as morphine and oxycodone, as well as illegal street drugs such as heroin and illicitly-made fentanyl.
While withdrawal symptoms from opiates/opioids are rarely fatal, they are extremely unpleasant and often painful. Also known as being “dope sick,” the intense withdrawal symptoms from these drugs, without supervision and medical assistance, are often the main catalysts for relapse.
Like alcohol, opioid/opiate withdrawal syndromes can be treated with MAT, which includes opioid replacement therapy medications such as methadone and suboxone.
Prescription Drug Addiction
In addition to prescription painkillers, many patients also become addicted to other prescription drugs, including benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety medications) and amphetamines (stimulants such as Adderall.) Other potentially addictive drugs include muscle relaxers and sedatives/hypnotics such as Ambien and Lunesta.
Cocaine and Methamphetamine
Cocaine and meth are illicit stimulants, and while withdrawal symptoms are rarely fatal, they are highly unpleasant. Meth withdrawal can be especially long-lasting (up to a week or longer) and without medical supervision, persons suffering are at an increased risk for relapse.
If you or someone you love is suffering from substance abuse, please contact us as soon as possible to discuss treatment options. We can help you recover from your addiction and reclaim the happy, healthy, and fulfilling life you deserve!