Drug Withdrawal and Minerals—Some Things You Should Consider
Withdrawal from heavy drug use is notoriously fierce. By heavy drug use we mean the whole nasty bag including alcohol abuse, opiates or opioids (heroin or pharmaceutical pain pills), tranquilizers, stimulants. Perhaps one of the worst drugs is old alcohol. If a heavy alcoholic faces sudden withdrawal, as brought on perhaps by being arrested and thrown in jail for a few days, he could experience the DTs and seizures.
It is amazing how many wretched symptoms in varying degree can accompany physical withdrawal from drugs and alcohol. Physical symptoms might include muscle aches and pains including abdominal or muscle cramping, tremors and shakes, insomnia, fatigue, excessive sweating, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache or migraines, and convulsions. Emotional and mental symptoms might include agitation, extreme nervousness or anxiety, irritability, depression, various degrees of psychosis including hallucinations, nightmares, and what you might call a sense of unreality or confusion (great or small).
Worst Case Scenario
When any of those symptoms are over the top, a person coming down off heavy drugs or alcohol may need to go to a hospital for a few days of medically supervised withdrawal before continuing drug rehabilitation treatment. A professional doctor can diagnose if that is required. This is sometimes the case with heavy alcoholics. But often a person does not require hospitalization, even if he thinks he’s going to feel awful—heroin withdrawal being an example.
Facing the gauntlet of miserable days which an addict or drug abuser fears he or she will have to go through to get to the other side—withdrawn, finally physically sober, both feet on the ground, not crazy anymore—addicts or their families might think that there is only one route, heavy medication. All those awful symptoms “must be treated” with various meds, mustn’t they? Certainly, the addict himself will be thinking of meds. He’s used chemicals to handle how he feels for years—self-medicating, addicts call it.
“You gotta take something to turn it all off, to be able to sleep, to calm down,” etc.
But is it really true that getting doped up with medications to suppress symptoms is the only way? “No, it’s not,” says Gary Smith, director of Narconon Arrowhead. “There is an equally healthy if not healthier and more natural route possible. Consider the importance of certain minerals to the body.”
Smith said to review the list of drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms above and then to compare them to the symptoms of serious deficiency in the mineral calcium—confusion or memory loss, stiff, achy muscles, spasms or cramps, depression, hallucinations.
“Notice anything?” asked Smith. “A lot of the symptoms of calcium deficiency are similar to those of drug withdrawal.” He suggested looking also at the symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Muscle spasms and cramps, anxiety, and depression sleep problems (as in can’t sleep!), low energy (as in exhausted). More of the same symptoms.
In other words, the symptoms of drug withdrawal, emotional, mental, and physical, Smith said, parallel the symptoms of deficiencies in calcium and magnesium. “Mightn’t it make sense,” Smith asked, “to use these minerals, in proper formulations, to ease withdrawal?”
It was not a hypothetical question.
A few drug rehabilitation programs, such as Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma, have used this method of properly supervised nutritional supplementation during the period of withdrawal with great benefit for years and years. Anyone enrolling at Narconon Arrowhead first must receive a proper medical physical. It is the doctor’s decision whether the applicant can do the drug-free, nutritionally-assisted Narconon withdrawal, or should first go through a short medically-supervised withdrawal. But many, perhaps the majority of enrolling applicants are approved to go the drug-free, nutrition route.
Isn’t It Painful?
Isn’t it much harder than medicated, doped-up withdrawal? “Actually, no,” said Smith, “it isn’t. Not when the persons working with you, at your side 24/7, know what to do.” It’s not just nutrition, he said. There are other things done that help a person stay in the present moment and relax the body. Another important positive is that after coming off the illegal or abused drugs, the person in recovery doesn’t have to go through any further withdrawal from the ‘medical’ (or substitute) drugs.
What do persons (those heavy addicts we were talking about above) say about Narconon drug-free withdrawal?
“I can’t believe it was over so quickly,” said one person, “and I just felt better and better, not worse. What a pleasant surprise that was!”
Certainly, there may be alternative opinions about how drug withdrawal might be confronted or supervised. Some doctors really believe in meds as the only way. But others have been fascinated by the Narconon method and tried it out. One doctor who had supervised drug withdrawal in a well-known center said, after attending a workshop on Narconon nutritional methods:
“For thirty years I have used six or more medications to handle heroin withdrawal. I could have used these minerals and other supplements instead.”
Narconon Arrowhead drug rehabilitation center’s “drug withdrawal department” is certified in Oklahoma. This is not guesswork, but professional care.
You might consider it if you or a loved one is facing the choice—where and how do I want to come off drugs?
A Final Note:
Of course, this article is just a simple summary and description of the issue. Anyone wanting to come down off drugs should not self-diagnose and start taking supplements on his own. Consult a professional caregiver. That’s what would happen first if you come to Narconon Arrowhead.
For more information on Narconon Arrowhead and its methods,
Some references on calcium and magnesium and their use in treatment:
Use of Orthomolecular Techniques for Alcohol and Drug Abuse in a
Post-Detox Setting, Libby et al, 1982, Orthomolecular Psychiatry Vol 11: 277-288.
Magnesium deficiency in alcohol addiction and withdrawal, Shane SR, Flink EB, Magnes Trace Elem 10:263-8
Role of magnesium and calcium in alcohol-induced hypertension and strokes as proved by in vivo television microscopy, digital image microscopy, optical spectroscopy, 31P-NMR, spectroscopy and a unique magnesium ion-selective electrode, Altura BM, Altura BT, Alcohol Clin Exp Res 1994
Calcium bioavailability and absorption:
A review, Allen LH, Am J Clin Nutr 1982 Apr 35: 783 - 808.