Everyday tips for Managing Withdrawal Symptoms in Long-Term Recovery

From the moment you start getting clean, managing withdrawal symptoms becomes a struggle. Alcohol and drug addiction alters your brain’s chemistry and central nervous system’s function, leading to a dependency where your brain and body may feel a need for these substances to maintain a sense of normalcy. Even the most determined and focused people in recovery can wind up succumbing to their physical and psychological symptoms, which is part of the reason why withdrawal is a primary driver of the estimated 40-60 percent rates of relapse in the United States.

Although medical detox can help you get past the acute stage of withdrawal, and may relieve the worst of your symptoms, the physical and psychological effects can last for weeks and even months after you get clean, depending on the scope and duration of your substance use. To make sure you’re feeling your best and continuously ready to embrace long-term recovery, here are some tips for effectively managing withdrawal symptoms in everyday life.

Look on Your Plate

Managing your withdrawal symptoms often starts with eating and drinking right. For example, those dealing with alcohol withdrawal often have depleted levels of vitamins B1 (which helps prevent complications in the nervous system); B2 (which breaks down carbs, proteins, and fats to produce energy, and increases oxygen flow); B6 (a vitamin instrumental in healthy body and brain development), and folic acid, which helps the body create and keep new cells. Talk to your doctor about increasing your intake of foods rich in these items.

People battling drug withdrawal, particularly opioids and stimulants, routinely encounter digestive health issues. To counteract these symptoms, regain your energy, and feel less sluggish, try eating a fiber-rich diet (leafy greens, beans, vegetables, etc.). It may also be a good idea to up your intake of lean proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. A well-balanced diet, low in sugar and sodium, will increase your energy, improve digestive health, and even reduce lingering pain and inflammation.

Get Up, Get Moving, Get Better

Exercise: is there anything it can’t do? In addition to being a cornerstone of a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle, working out has been repeatedly proven to improve symptoms and conditions commonly associated with the withdrawal process (stress, anxiety, depression, pain, digestive issues, etc.). It also stimulates the release of endorphins, natural chemicals in your brain that play a role in pain reduction and can induce feelings of pleasure or euphoria, akin to the effects of morphine. You don’t have to be an iron man to reap the full benefits of exercise. Start at a comfortable level and push yourself a little more each day. Try something fun like beginner yoga, boxing, or pick-up basketball.

Massage Therapy 

While many use it as a way to the end of the work week or a “just-for-me” treat when time allows, massages can also help you manage your withdrawal symptoms by providing targeted and effective relief of chronic pain-affected areas and increasing circulation and blood flow. This can help improve your overall well-being and may aid in the recovery process by supporting the body’s natural detoxification systems. While it may not be easy to just go for a massage right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some safe and simple self-massage techniques you can perform for quick relief. In addition to massage, other holistic pain-management techniques can include chiropractic care, acupuncture, meditation, and others. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of these techniques.

Dream On…

The benefits of proper sleep, in any context, can’t be understated. For those battling withdrawal, a regular and healthy sleep schedule can help reduce cravings, stabilize mood swings, and improve overall energy levels. You can improve your sleep hygiene by making sure you go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each day; not eating or drinking for at least three hours before bed, and making sure your room is kept properly lit and at a comfortable temperature.

Effectively managing your withdrawal symptoms often involves seeking professional help as part of the process. If you or your loved one is battling continued alcohol or drug withdrawal, Recovery Unplugged is ready to offer comprehensive medical detox and rehab.


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