People use new psychoactive substances, also known as ‘legal highs’, for a variety of reasons. Among them is the false belief that these drugs are somehow less harmful than the illicit drugs they are meant to replace. What many don’t know is that legal highs can be exponentially more dangerous. And yes, legal high withdrawal symptoms do exist. They are every bit as real as the withdrawal symptoms associated with drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Legal highs are technically known as new psychoactive substances because they have a psychoactive effect on the brain. Just like the older drugs we are more familiar with, legal highs are available in four categories:
The withdrawal symptoms related to legal highs are not always identical when compared to their traditional counterparts, but they are often similar enough for comparative purposes. For example, almost all stimulants create a certain range of withdrawal symptoms based on how they react with the central nervous system.
One primary difference with legal highs is that there is no way to tell how severe withdrawal will be or how long symptoms will last. It’s not that the medical community does not understand how the four classes of drugs work, it’s that they never really know the ingredients of a synthetic drug someone might take. And with new products coming out every day, even users do not really know exactly what they are using.
To use legal highs under the assumption that they are largely harmless is to risk one’s life. For example, synthetic marijuana is more than capable of inducing life-threatening intoxication if taken in large enough doses. This is actually more common than most people know.
Synthetic cannabinoids tend to be manufactured as powders that can be added to other substances before being sold on the street. And because no one knows how much the synthetic drug has been cut, users don’t know how much to take. The result is overdoses that are frequent and dangerous.
Withdrawal symptoms can also be dangerous to the point of being life-threatening. For instance, imagine taking a psychedelic drug that induces hallucinations along with paranoia and panic attacks. Adding drug cravings to hallucinations and paranoia during withdrawal can lead a person to aggression and violence. Just five minutes of reckless behaviour resulting from this aggression could end up costing the user his or her life.
Other legal highs cause increased heart rate and respiration during withdrawal. It is entirely possible to die of a heart attack or stroke while coming off of one of these drugs. And even in the absence of death, serious injuries can be sustained.
It should be obvious that medically supervised withdrawal offers users the best possible protection against serious injury or death. Medical supervision involves doctors and nurses constantly monitoring the patient’s health and responding to any emergencies that might arise. Anyone attempting to withdrawal from a legal high would be foolish not to do it under proper medical supervision.
The importance of medically supervised withdrawal is one of the reasons we recommend people contact us on our 24-hour helpline. As a referral service, we help clients access rehab programmes that are both medically supervised and conducted in private, residential settings. The professionals who staff these clinics are experts at what they do. They are the most qualified to treat someone attempting to overcome a legal high addiction.
Medical supervision also makes it possible in some cases to reduce the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. This can be done, when appropriate, through prescription medications that mimic the effects of the drug being withdrawn from. Such medications do not eliminate withdrawal symptoms, but they do take the edge off.
We often field calls from clients wanting to know whether withdrawal from legal highs is absolutely necessary. The answer to that depends on the person’s goals. If you want complete victory over the drugs that currently enslave you, you must undergo withdrawal at some point. Failing to withdraw means you are never completely getting the drug out of your system. And until that happens, full and complete recovery is not possible.
Withdrawal is necessary because a person’s body learns to depend on the drugs within for normal functioning. The fact that withdrawal symptoms present themselves should make it clear that the body does not respond well to lower volumes of the drug in question. Therefore, it stands to reason that full recovery requires getting the body back to a state in which it is not relying on drugs. Withdrawal is the only way to do that.
If you or someone you love is using a legal high product, please do not fall for the lie that says legal highs are harmless. Not only are they not harmless but they might also be considerably more dangerous than the natural drugs they are meant to replace. It only takes one bad dose to kill.
Trained counsellors are standing by to assist you right now on our 24-hour helpline. Please take advantage of our free and confidential assistance by contacting us right away. When you call, we will provide a comprehensive assessment of your circumstances along with a list of treatment options in your area. We can help you get victory over legal highs if you sincerely want to break free.
We hope you want to be free, if not for your own sake than for that of your family and friends. Nothing good can come of you continuing to take drugs. On the other hand, a better life awaits if you are willing to undergo treatment.