Before a person can become sober, they must first stop using drugs or alcohol. If their substance abuse has progressed into a physical dependency on drugs or alcohol, then sobriety starts with a process known as detoxing.
However, some people are concerned about going through detox because they aren’t sure of the answer to the question, “Can you die from withdrawal?” The answer often depends upon the length and severity of a person’s drug or alcohol abuse, as well as their medical history. However, if a person seeks detox through a professional facility, they can dramatically reduce their withdrawal symptoms and risk of death.
Can You Die From Withdrawal From Drugs and Alcohol?
When you use drugs and alcohol regularly or in large amounts, the body and brain get used to the substance being in the body. The brain changes in ways that mean when you stop using drugs or alcohol, you experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from some substances, particularly alcohol, has the potential for life-threatening complications.
Some of the substances that can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms include:
- Alcohol: Can you die from withdrawal from alcohol? The short answer: yes.
This is because alcohol withdrawals can lead to a syndrome known as delirium tremens or DTs, when a person has seizures, high heart rate and fevers that can prove deadly. However, at a professional detox facility, staff can administer medications like anti-seizure medicines that reduce the risk a person could die from withdrawal.
- Benzodiazepines: Can you die from withdrawal from benzodiazepines? Possibly.
These medications (such as Valium, Xanax and Ativan) are known for reducing the likelihood a person will experience a seizure. If a person suddenly stops taking these medications, they could experience life-threatening seizures. A drug-tapering plan can help a person lessen their dependence on benzodiazepines.
- Opioids: Can you die from withdrawal from opioids? Unlikely, but possible.
While withdrawal from opiates like heroin, hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine is not typically life-threatening, a person could experience prolonged side effects from vomiting or diarrhea. If these symptoms last beyond several days and a person becomes dehydrated, the symptoms could turn life-threatening. However, at a professional detox program, a person can receive support to prevent dehydration.
Medical Help Is Available
No one should have to risk dying from withdrawal. If you are ready to detox from drugs or alcohol, seeking treatment at a professional detox facility can keep you safe and help you achieve your goal of sobriety.
For more information on detox support, please call Everlast Recovery Center at 866-DETOX-25.