How Does an Inpatient Rehab Center Deal with Withdrawal from Multiple Substances?

How does an inpatient rehab center deal with withdrawal from multiple substances? In general, people tend to abuse substances that offer a certain effect. For example, someone who is naturally nervous may seek the calming effects of benzodiazepine tranquilizers. They are not as likely to seek out stimulating drugs like amphetamines, although this certainly isn\’t 100 percent for everyone. Someone who is depressed may be attracted to the subjective euphoria produced by opioids. Again, this is not an absolute rule. It\’s just an example. Not everyone who takes opioids finds the side effects to be pleasant. Some people actually feel depressed from them. They experience dysphoria, the opposite of euphoria.

In general, people do tend to seek out certain substances for their specific effects. This is also the basis for self-treating an underlying mental condition, such as depression or anxiety disorder. There are rehabs offering treatment for this. It\’s called dual diagnosis. Someone abusing more than one drug class at the same time is involved in what is called polydrug abuse, and chances are high that they are also suffering from an underlying mental condition.

Polydrug Withdrawal

This kind of withdrawal is tricky and is probably best handled in an inpatient setting. Although some people are good candidates for outpatient drug withdrawal, someone abusing more than one drug simultaneously is unlikely to be one. If alcohol or benzodiazepine abuse is involved and is paired with another depressant drug class like the opioids, inpatient therapy is almost always going to be indicated. For one thing, the symptoms caused by these drug classes combined together would be nearly too much to tolerate. Worse, withdrawal from alcohol and benzodiazepines can cause life-threatening grand mal seizures and aspiration of stomach contents into the lungs. It\’s dose-related, too, but it\’s probably always safest to withdraw from these substances under direct medical supervision.


The rehab would deal with polydrug withdrawal by addressing each drug separately. As far as the body is concerned, each one is going to cause withdrawal symptoms related to that drug. For opioids, this includes:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle pain and restless leg syndrome

Medications like methadone, Suboxone and medications for other symptoms are effective for opioid withdrawal. This kind of withdrawal isn\’t generally life-threatening, but it\’s highly unpleasant and can last for many weeks. If other drug classes are involved in the withdrawal process, it will likely intensify the process in general and may make withdrawal from all of them more dangerous. That\’s why medical supervision is advisable. If serious complications develop, there will be staff and the necessary equipment to deal with them immediately.

Alcohol and Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

This is far more dangerous than opioid withdrawal. It should never be attempted without medical supervision. Symptoms can be life-threatening and may include:

  • Sweating and shakiness
  • Tremors
  • Feelings of bugs on the skin
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Disorientation
  • Headache
  • Elevated heart rate

This withdrawal would be addressed separately, usually by giving slowly decreasing doses of a long-acting benzodiazepine like diazepam. This is true for both alcohol and benzodiazepine addiction. Both drugs act in similar ways and in the same part of the brain. It\’s not safe to suddenly stop either one once someone is addicted. The dose of the benzodiazepine will be slowly tapered downwards before stopping it altogether. This allows the body time to adjust and greatly reduces the chances of serious complications.


Amphetamine withdrawal typically begins with a sleeping phase. The addicted person may sleep without interruption for up to several days. After that, a set of symptoms including fatigue, insomnia, irritability, depression, nausea and vomiting may follow. Prolonged use of amphetamines, especially in high doses, depletes the brain of an essential chemical called dopamine. Low dopamine levels are associated with depression. There is no specific treatment for amphetamine withdrawal.

Certain dietary supplements may help the brain to ramp up dopamine production sooner, and some rehabs may offer this type of nutritional support. Otherwise, the person receives symptomatic treatment until the withdrawal process subsides on its own. This may include medications for anxiety, depression and insomnia. In itself, amphetamine withdrawal isn\’t typically dangerous. In fact, it\’s far more dangerous to continue taking the drug without medical supervision. Amphetamines, when part of a polydrug abuse problem, may complicate the withdrawal process from the other drugs, too.

Don\’t Wait to Get Help

Polydrug abuse is a serious, potentially fatal medical problem. Don\’t hesitate to get help. Just call us at 833-820-2922 anytime. We will be able to direct you to the best polydrug treatment facility for you in your area.

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