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    Old 03-20-2004, 08:58 AM   #1
    lortabbuzzer
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    Why do we go through withdrawls?

    Got a question that has been bugging my for some time. I want to know WHY, in medical terms, we go through withdrawls. I have searched the web but can't come up with ANYTHING, except that we just do. I have even called a local detox hospital. The nurse put me on hold, asked the doctor and his asnwer was, "You just do. It is part of it." Some answer huh? I really hope that she was just blowing me off and didn't want to take the time to get into it.
    I have heard something about the narcotic builds in your blood plysma (sp?) level over the time that you take them and when you quit taking them, the blood level isn't staying at the constant level that it is use to, thus causing the physical withdrawls. Does anyone know if this is true? I don't ever keep a constant level in my blood, meaning I might take two Lortab 10's a day for a few days or I might take 10, depending on my supply that I have. I don't have withdrawls as bad a most talk about and I think this is why but it is something that "bugs" me. I am one that has to have it all "figured" out, lol. Also, I tell myself that this is why I don't have withdrawls so bad. I play games with my mind and convience myself that it isn't so bad. The worse is the lack of energy, cravings and the back pain. That is what makes me always return to these little shits!!
    I would love anyones input on this, either fact or opinion!
    Thanks, in advance, for any replys!
    Plus~ I want to thank all of you for talking about NA/AA meetings. I know that is the only way that I am going to get clean and stay clean. I have my foot 75% in the door of my first meeting! I will let you all know when I go.
    Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!!!!

     
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    Old 03-20-2004, 09:15 AM   #2
    Banker
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    You know, I would LOVE to know the same thing - particularly, the medical reason. I mean, I can understand how your body gets used to something and then you don't have it but why??? Good question --- thanks!

     
    Old 03-20-2004, 09:40 AM   #3
    jorob
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    Hi there,

    I found this on the web:

    "Drug withdrawal is not related to the amount of drug circulating in the blood stream. The symptoms are as a result of the changes in the brain cells in response to the presence of the drug, and the resultant changes in brain chemistry when the drug is no longer present"

    I also read that it vary's from drug to drug, or alcohol, or marijuana. There is also a big portion attributed to psychological withdrawal and it can vary from person to person.

    It seems to me that when you take a drug for a legitimate reason, ie: pain, that drug is altering different parts of the brain and central nervous system to go to the source of the pain and dull it - so the drug is introduced to "change" something. Therefore, if you take a drug to change something and then continue to take it (maybe too much of it) it would make sense that when you stop the drug, those parts of your body that you were changing now don't know what the heck is going on and there you have withdrawal.

    -Kathi

     
    Old 03-21-2004, 12:53 PM   #4
    chefob1
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    a car is used to running on oil...if it doesnt have oil it wont run or runs trashy until it ceases to run...you wired your body to chemical dependancy...it took a period of time for your body to get used to runnin on oil...the brain is made of tissue,ect and receptor sites in the brain are wired to your body.....when the receptors no longer get the oil,you start runnin rough,opiates cause insommnia,disahrea,ect....except just as if you quit smokin your lungs can and will self clean,so will your brain return to normal after usually two months when taking opiates...it has to do with neurology,chemical imbalance/balance and continued usage of chemicals to a point where your body need the nutrition of the drug to be normal.........

     
    Old 03-22-2004, 06:39 AM   #5
    lortabbuzzer
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    Thanks for the replys. I guess I am just one that wants to understand it all and all part of me dealing with it. Sometimes I think I think about it so much that I have myself beat before I start.
    Thanks again for taking the time~

     
    Old 03-24-2004, 11:17 AM   #6
    Jerri1
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    This is a well worded explaination of the why we go through the wds.and such! Very smart lady that wrote this out!!

    Ok, get comfortable, this is going to be long. Please be patient as this may be hard to explain via this medium but I will do my best.
    First and formost, most people, addicts included, either don't know or don't believe that addiction is a very real, very physcial disease. We are not addicts because we are weak and we don't have trouble quitting for that reason either. I'm going to attempt to explain what addiction truly is and why it is so hard to overcome so put your feet up and bear with me for a bit, k?
    There is a natural chemical that our brain produces that is called Dopamine. This chemical is what stimulates our pleasure center and also what lets our brain inturperate what measures it needs to take for survival. So, picture if you will, the following. On one side of your brain you have a "sac" that contains the Dopamine, on the other side of your brain you have a receptor (For the rest of this post I'm going to refer to this receptor as a gate for easier explaination). Now, in a normal, non addicted brain, Dopamine is released naturally after say a good meal or sex. In the normal course of things for instance, if we eat a steak dinner, the sac will release the normal amount of Dopamine, let's say one squirt. The gate opens, receives the Dopamine, we feel good and everything is as it should be. Now, drugs also release Dopamine only at a much higher level, so while a candy bar might release one "squirt" of Dopamine, drugs release up to 100 times the normal amount of Dopamine. So, when we first begin to use, we swallow a pill or shoot some Heroin, 100 squirts of Dopamine gets released causing the Euphoric feeling that leads us to use again. The problem now though is that after a while, that one gate cannot open fast enough to accept the unusually high amount of Dopamine that is being supplied, so being the amazing organ that the human brain is, it simply grows another gate to help it accomodate. So, now we have 2 gates that are open and want to be fed. So instead of needing to only take 1 or 2 pills a day, suddenly we find that we need 3 or 4. Now 200 times the normal amount of Dopamine is being released and the process continues, these 2 gates need help so the brain grows another, and another and another........Now we find ourselves needing 6 or 7 pills a day. While this is happening our brain is led to believe that it now HAS to have this chemical to survive, just as it knows that it needs food and sex to live and to reproduce. It know thinks that without drugs it will die, for you see the brain doesn't know what we are giving it, just that it MUST have it or die. So, with continued use, our tolerance grows due to the extra gates that we have open, that need to be fed and fed on a consistant basis. So, as opposed to the normal brain that has it's one normal gate, an addict may have 20 or 30 gates now. This is why we can take drugs in a high enough dosage that it would kill a normal person but for us it is the amount that we need just to feed all those gates and keep ourselves normal.
    So now, we deciede to quit. Easy enough, right?, I mean, just stop swallowing the pills and all will be well (ever been told that?). Well, as you know, it's not tht easy and the reason why is when we suddenly take that drug away,stop feeding those gates, our brain goes into panic mode, it thinks it is dying. So, what follows? 7 to 10 days of extreme sickness (WD). Our brain is sending out distress signals just like it would if we quit eating (think for a minute what a human will do if they get hungry enough and then you can see why addicts will do things they never thought themselves capable of to get what they need.) Now, after the first few days, the brain begins to realize that it is not going to die and we start to physcially feel better. But that is by no means the end of the problem. Think of those gates for a minute, wouldn't it be nice if when we quit they disappeared and everything went back to normal? Unfortunately, that is not the case, the addicts brain is forever altered. Those gates NEVER go away, we will always have all those extras. Now, this is where it is so difficult in early recovery. Ok, so we have quit taking drugs, we feel a little better, BUT now we eat a candy bar, the normal amount (that one squirt) of Doapmine is released, BUT ALL of those extra gates open to receive it and our brain starts to scream "IT'S NOT ENOUGH", which of course it is not, we have 30 gates opening, expecting to be fed and they get one little blast instead of what it is used to. This is why in early recovery anything that releases Dopamine needs to be reduced or eliminated if possible. Of course we have to eat, we can't eliminate that of course but have you ever noticed when you first got clean that you found yourself overeating or craving right after a good meal? We crave after we eat because those gates are open and we may overeat trying to satisfy the need for excess Dopamine. That is why it is a good idea to avoid sweets or products like NyQuil, because they contain sugar and alcohol, which "teases' those gates unnecessarily. Now, while those gates never go away, the good news is that after we are clean for awhile, they do become less sensitive. Eventually even though they are still there, fewer will open and things return to as close to normal as we will ever be able to get to. So, basically we have them, they are laying dormant and if we get say a good 6 months to a year clean time, they pretty much leave us alone. BUT, how many times have you heard an addict say that they were clean for a while and thought they could just use recreationally now and control it? Of course we can't control it, once we take that first pill (or whatever) again, the HUGE amount of Doapmine is released and ALL of those dormant gates are wakened and our tolerance is just as high as it always was. We don't have to build it back up, we pick right back up at the amounts that we are accustomed to. Or how many times have you seen someone who never had a drinking problem get clean from pills and then become an alcoholic? They think that if they are not taking their DOC they will be ok. But remember, our brain doesn't know if we are feeding it Vicodin, Heroin or whiskey. All it knows or cares about it is the end result that the substance produces.
    Now, we are getting clean, the WD's are over, we are not using any other substance but yet we are miserable, can't sleep, are depressed, anxious, etc, etc....Now, why is this, it's not fair, right?, I mean, we did what we were supposed to and yet we feel so ABNORMAL and it seems to last forever. Well, the reason for this is simple, when we were growing all those extra gates and training our brain to rely on a unnatural chemical, we ACTUALLY, PHYSCIALLY altered the chemical makeup in the brain. So, now we may be clean but we are left with a bunch of synopsis (sic),and receptors that are in essence "misfiring". We feel the way we do because our brain in no longer functioning normally. This does eventually heal but it is not a quick process by any means. Our brains have to repair all the damage we did when we went in and rearranged it's furniture so to speak. Usually this takes anywhere from several months to a year. The longest time belonging to those whose DOC is opiated based, such as Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin and Heroin. This is why such extreme caution has to be use in early recovery and also why so many addicts relapse. It take so long to feel normal again that most of us give up and return to the drug induced normality that they are used to. The sad truth is that only 2 out of 10 addicts recover. And it again is not because they are weak people, but rather because it is such an enormous battle mentally that most lose. I mean, how long can you go through living everyday just not caring about anything? Most can't get through that. BUT, if your stay strong, have a support system and be patient, one day you discover that you can smile again and while it may only last a few seconds, it is a real feeling and you can being to hope. There is life after drugs, and I won't lie, it is NEVER the same as it was before the addiction takes us but it can be rewarding and meaningful.
    So, as far as what to do to continue succesful recovery, A support system is key as is proper diet and Vitamins. Especially Zinc and Magnesium as these are two that we deplete with use and also the ones necessary to provide the quickest MENTAL recovery.
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    Old 03-24-2004, 12:36 PM   #7
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    good job jeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii iiiiiiiiiii.....chef

     
    Old 03-24-2004, 01:20 PM   #8
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    WOW Jerri..
    Thank you so much for that. It was very interesting and well written for us to understand. It completely makes sense to me and now I can understand why it is so hard to quit. I have always felt the w/d's were the easy part..it's afterwards that is so hard and now i know why! I appreciate you sharing that with us!
    Thanks!
    Jenny

     
    Old 03-24-2004, 01:28 PM   #9
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    Absolutely the best description I have ever heard,and i completely understood.Thank you so much for sharing that Jerri.Marcia

     
    Old 03-24-2004, 01:55 PM   #10
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    wow, Jeri...i wish you'd been one of my teachers in University...might have actually understood..lol...EXCELLENT job...

     
    Old 03-24-2004, 02:14 PM   #11
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    Thank you!

    You did a much better job explaining that than my addictionologist did...very interesting and informative.

    michelle

     
    Old 03-24-2004, 06:34 PM   #12
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    This is what I found:

    "Abstinence Syndrome

    Through close study of the abstinence syndrome, also known as withdrawal syndrome, which is related to conventional anti-addiction medicines, Shen and his colleagues found that once the medicine on which a patient was dependent was withdrawn, active levels of body substances, such as enkephalins, dwindled dramatically. This led to both increases and decreases in the secretion of the body's series of neuro-transmitters. It is at this point that patients suffer the extreme neural,mental and digestive disorders associated with the traumas of withdrawal, often called cold turkey."

    The article is about a new herbal based medicine in China called "626" that is supposed to ease radically W/D symptoms. Read more here:
    [url]http://www.***********/search?q=cache:w0X-grF2qC0J:www.martrix.org/Easing%2520Cold%2520Turkey%2520Traumas.P DF+heroin+withdrawal+easing+symptoms&hl=en&ie=UTF-8[/url]

     
    Old 03-25-2004, 04:08 AM   #13
    maynard
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    That explanation about dopamine is, I believe, more accurate with "upper" drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, ritalin, etc. opiates are a little different. In addition, it was a little simplified. I will do my best to explain.

    The receptor concept introduced in the former post is the heart of the problem. There are special neurons concentrated in certain parts of your brain, spinal cord, and intestines that have on them what are called opiate receptors. There are several classes of opiate receptors, including mu, nu, etc. The neurons that have the special opiate receptors on them are the ones that control your breathing, pain reception, the muscles of your gut (which is why there is the effect of constipation), and a whole host of other things. These opiate receptors in these special locations are activated by natural opiate-like compounds produced by your body. These natural opiate-like compounds are known as enkephalins or endorphins.

    You can kind of think of the receptor as a little gate in the wall of the cell, but it is slightly more complicated than that. Naturally, the natural enkephalins and endorphins in your brain bind to these receptors and "activate" them, which sends a cascade of signals to the neurons they activate, and the neurons with the receptors to which enkephalins and endorphins bind - as i have mentioned - regulate breathing, pleasure, pain. It is by binding to these receptors and activating the associated neurons that opiate drugs produce their effects.

    Narcotic drugs also bind to these receptors, and actually bind more readily to the receptors than your bodies natural opiates (the enkephalins and endorphins)! By taking narcotics, these receptors in their specific brain areas become hyper-stimulated. The drug activates these receptors repeatedly and very powerfully, and because of this an interesting effect called "down regulation" happens. I will try to illustrate this with a simple text diagram. If this --| is the wall of your neuron (the dashes represent the inside, and the verticle line is the wall), and these { are the receptors:
    A normal neuron will look like this, in this very oversimplified and mostly conceptual diagram. As you can see, the receptors are sticking out of the cell and are ready to bind with enkephalins, endorphins, or narcotic drugs that might float up to them:
    ---|
    ---|
    ---={
    ---|
    ---={
    ---|

    When you overstimulate the receptors with narcotics over a reasonable period of time, they attempt to normalize (counteract the overactivity) by downregulation:

    ---|
    ---|
    ={ |
    ---|
    ={
    ---|

    As this picture illustrates, your receptors become less sensitive to the drug and to your natural opiates by, in a way, "receeding" into the cell, and this is the reason it takes more and more and more of the drug to produce the same effect. Remember, if you want to be technical, this is a VERY oversimplified drawing and description, and the actual process is far more complicated.

    That's not all! There are additional problems that lead to withdrawal, and this is the kicker! Because the narcotic drugs have a higher affinity for the receptors, and bind to them more readily, your bodies natural endorphins and enkephalins no longer have any effect. Your body begins to rely on the drug that you are taking, be it morphine, oxycodone, heroin, or whatever, to perform the functions that your natural enkephalins used to. Your body stops producing the enkephalins and endorphins, and becomes totally dependent on the drug to be normal! This is a very important reason that when you stop taking narcotics suddenly, you experience withdrawal symptoms! It takes a good amount of time once you have stopped taking the narcotics for your body to once again begin producing its own natural opiates, and this can be a painful time. In addition, your neurons have to recover from the down-regulation, which is completely reversible, but also takes time.

    To clarify a little more - i think a previous post said that taking the drug actually makes your neurons produce more receptors. This is not true. It is the down-regulation of the receptors that makes it harder for them to be activated, and thus leads to the necessity to take more drug to obtain the same effects.

    sorry for the lengthy post - Hope this info is useful!

    DISCLAIMER: This post is meant for ENTERTAINMENT purposes only.

    Last edited by maynard; 03-25-2004 at 04:27 AM.

     
    Old 04-20-2004, 03:25 AM   #14
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    Re: Why do we go through withdrawls?

    i donít know the answer to your question but i do know that if you put as much effort in attending an aa meeting as you do looking for your answers to your questions, in time the question will probably become irrelevant and you will be able to live your life in sobriety without the wondering of why, if's, and what's. this is just my opinion and would not like you to think that i mean any malice. my husband is an alcoholic and i attend al anon and he aa. i find great comfort in sharing my life with others who have been there do that! aa might not be for you but in my experience if you put yourself first and make aa the second most important thing in your life, hopefully you will find peace and sobriety. my husband stopped going to aa because he said he was fine now!!! big mistake. he is drinking again, has lost his job, was arrested last night for abuse to me and my son, he put others first and aa last and look where it has lead!!

     
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