Intoxication and Withdrawal

Signs and symptoms of intoxication and withdrawal and treatments are based on drug class. Generally, withdrawal symptoms are characterized by the opposite of intoxication, with their intensity inversely proportional to the duration of action of the drug and proportional to chronicity of use. Symptom onset is proportional to the half-life of the drug.

Treatment of intoxication for most substances is supportive and symptomatic and typically occurs in inpatient settings. Receptor antagonists are available for both opiate and benzodiazepine intoxication, with use reserved primarily for the overdose state. Treatment of withdrawal usually follows one of two principles: substituting a longer-acting less reinforcing equivalent, then tapering, or symptom control. Withdrawal treatment may occur in the inpatient or outpatient setting depending on the severity of the withdrawal anticipated, the underlying mental and physical health issues of the patient, and level of support available to the patient in the outpatient setting.

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