Nelson Ellis brought character and comedy to us as the unforgettable Lafayette on True Blood. Unfortunately, Nelson’s smile was hiding something. Nelson suffered from a drug and alcohol addiction that he had been trying to overcome for many years. Ashamed of his illness, Mr. Ellis chose to detox from alcohol at home by himself. While withdrawing from alcohol, he developed a blood infection. This infection ultimately caused his kidneys to shut down, his liver to swell, his blood pressure to drop, and his heart to race out of control. He died of heart failure at the age of 39.
The tragic death of Nelson Ellis serves to shine a spotlight on the importance of finding a safe way to detoxify your body, and the need to consult medical professionals while going through withdrawals. Here are some more important facts you need to know.
Unassisted Alcohol Withdrawal Can Cause Dangerous Symptoms
Alcohol is one of the easiest mood altering substances to obtain, but that doesn’t make it safe. Withdrawal from alcohol is one of the most dangerous detoxifications and when done incorrectly can lead to health complications and even death. To be clear, withdrawing from alcohol in a clinical setting is completely safe. The danger comes from quitting “cold turkey” or suddenly without medical supervision.
If you develop an alcohol dependency, your body has become used to this drug, s a sedative, in order to function. When this sedative is suddenly gone, the body reacts like it has been zapped with a strong stimulus affecting blood pressure and the heart. People frequently experience sweating and trouble sleeping. More severe cases may also experience seizures, which can lead to vomiting. Inhaled vomit can block airways. Extreme cases may also involve the liver and kidneys.
Fortunately, each symptom is manageable with the help of a medical professional. From medication that can help you sleep or relax to treatments that control seizures and regulate blood pressure, theses withdrawal side effects need not be scary with the right help.
Opiate Withdrawal and Other Substances
Many people withdrawing from alcohol are also ceasing the use of other drugs, such as opiates. Opiates, like alcohol, have a sedating effect on the nervous system. The body’s physical tolerance for opiates develops faster than a person’s ability to withstand withdrawal symptoms, leading opiate users to take more and more of a drug. This urge to quickly consume more of the drug due to withdrawal symptoms can easily lead to respiratory distress from overdose.
Before respiratory distress occurs, users will experience acute symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, and muscles cramps. Longer term symptoms often include depression, inability to focus, and fatigue. The good news is that many of these symptoms can be managed with anti-nasaue medications and counseling from a qualified therapist. People experiencing opiate withdrawal may want to explore additional medical detox options.
Amphetamines are “uppers” and include drugs like ICE, speed, and meth. Unlike opiates and alcohol, amphetamines have a stimulant effect, increasing brain and body activity. The first symptom most people experience after sudden meth withdrawal is a “crash” including extreme fatigue and hunger. Additional symptoms may include lack of coordination, digestive issues, and shaking. Extreme cases may experience cardiac arrest.
There are also many psychological withdrawal symptoms after prolonged amphetamine use. People have reported thoughts of suicide and hallucinations. Mood swings and irritability are common. Realistic nightmares and psychosis have been reported too, making psychiatric care extremely important in this detox process. It is vital for amphetamine recovery that users work with professionals.
The good news is that people enter recovery from substance abuse every day. Many people go on to live happy and healthy lives after substance abuse and enjoy the freedom from the drug dependence that they once had. The important thing is to enter the detox process safely. Prolonged and extensive substance abuse isn’t something that should be ceased suddenly without medical and psychiatric support.
Consult your local rehab professionals to find the program that is right for you or your loved one. Learn to treat each substance as well as focus on mental health, and start down the path to safe recovery today.