Withdrawal symptoms may be treated with a combination of drug therapy, behavior modifications, mental exercises and other forms of therapy. Often, the treatment of symptoms may continue over time until the individual being affected feels they are controllable without specialized techniques. Treating the symptoms of withdrawal should only be done after consulting with a health care professional.
Clonidine and chlordiazepoxide are two common drug therapies used for withdrawal symptoms. These drugs work to lessen the effects of withdrawal symptoms and generally are only used for a short period of time. In many cases, the drugs prescribed for someone trying to get over an addiction have the least chance of being habit forming. Despite this precaution, there may be some cases where the patient may develop a dependency on the treatment drug of choice, prompting a different medication or the discontinuation of medication to treat withdrawal symptoms overall.
Drugs used in the treatment of withdrawal symptoms often work by blocking chemicals in the brain that promote urges for certain chemicals, and may decrease blood pressure and heart rate. While many forms of addiction affect the same areas of the brain, only a medical professional can prescribe the medication most likely to work and the correct dosage. A doctor may prescribe different drugs, based on the patient's allergies, weight, gender and specific addiction. Withdrawal symptoms causing pain, such as headaches, can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers.
In some cases, a doctor or counselor may recommend other forms of therapy in addition to, or in lieu of, drug treatment. These therapies may include support groups or other accountability measures, along with a redirection to other activities. This type of treatment offers no side effects and may help individuals who feel they are all alone in trying to combat their urges. Such treatments are often dependent on the commitment of the patient to be effective.
For some individuals, meditation or prayer may be helpful in treating withdrawal symptoms. These techniques can help train the mind to focus on something other than the immediate feelings and urges at the time. This approach often requires the patient to be dedicated to the regimen. Often, this approach is proactive, being used before the individual begins having those urges or symptoms of withdrawal.
Hypnosis may be another option to treat withdrawal symptoms in some patients, especially those who do not respond to more conventional therapies or who may want to avoid medicines. With hypnosis, the individual may experience less severe symptoms or may find the symptoms totally disappear. This is another way of altering the mind through natural means to help patients recover most effectively. Hypnosis may not be suitable for all patients, however, and some people may not be hypnotized easily.