Emergency rooms are equipped to manage withdrawal symptoms and minimize their severity. They can manage and minimize detox in a variety of ways, depending on a variety of factors, including the severity of the withdrawal symptoms and the drug in question.
Withdrawal in an Emergency Room
Withdrawal symptoms of addictive drugs, like opiates and sedatives, can result in severe and possibly life-threatening complications. Sedative-hypnotics pose particularly dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and this class of drugs includes alcohol and benzodiazepines like Valium and Xanax. The most serious withdrawal symptoms of sedatives include seizures and coma, either of which may be fatal.1
Next in order of danger are opiates like heroin and morphine and opioids like hydrocodone (Lortab), oxycodone (Percocet, OxyContin) and hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Palladone). Withdrawal from opiates is unlikely to prove fatal, but it is miserable in the extreme: its symptoms resemble the worst case of flu.2
Symptoms may lead to complications such as extreme dehydration that may prove dangerous, and in the worst cases opiate withdrawal can result in cardiac arrhythmias, strokes, or seizures that can cause major health complications and lead to long-term or permanent damage.
Hospital emergency rooms are equipped to handle these contingencies. ERs are staffed with doctors and nurses to deal with any medical complications, and they have monitoring and life-support systems. Doctors also have access to medications to counteract withdrawal symptoms.
Choosing Treatment Helps Withdrawal
In the term “emergency room,” the operative word is “emergency.” If you need help managing withdrawal symptoms in an emergency room, then you have come to a crisis point in your addiction. If you need a trip to an emergency room due to withdrawal symptoms, then it means that you have become physically dependent on a drug to the point that quitting has resulted in a potentially life-threatening situation.
Keep in mind that this situation can happen to a person who has used drugs legitimately under a doctor’s orders and is not abusing a drug.
Opioid pain medications and benzodiazepines for anxiety are both highly addictive, and they can easily produce physical dependence in unsuspecting patients. If you have become dependent as a result of medical treatment, do not feel ashamed about being addicted, but rather seek help. Whether your dependence on drugs was caused by medical treatment or by recreational abuse, seeking treatment for addiction before it reaches a crisis point is a much better idea than waiting for a potentially life-threatening situation and seeking help in an emergency room.
Despite a doctor’s best efforts and the availability of state-of-the-art equipment, abrupt withdrawal can still leave you with permanent damage.
When you enter an addiction treatment center for detox and rehab, they are dedicated to your healing and keeping you as comfortable as possible during the detox phase. Medically-supervised rehabs are equipped with medication management options and will seamlessly help you transition into the healing phase of treatment in which you will learn to better understand the root of your addiction and how to live a sober life.
Detox and Addiction Recovery Help
If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, do not wait to seek treatment until you need a trip to the emergency room. Professional treatment is available that will help you overcome your addiction safely and effectively while minimizing withdrawal symptoms. If you need help finding treatment, call us today at 760.548.4032 to talk to a caring admissions coordinator. We want to help you begin a journey to a life without drug abuse and addiction.
1"Substance Abuse (Depressants or Sedative-Hypnotic Drugs)." Harvard Health Publishing, November 2014.
2"Opiate and opioid withdrawal." MedlinePlus.gov, April 20, 2016.