Every time a person gets high or drunk, neurotransmitters in the brain are significantly impacted. The substance can dull or excite the brain’s neurotransmitters. This process becomes more pronounced as the person falls further into addiction. When the individual finally attempts to quit and get treatment for their addiction, those neurotransmitters go haywire without drugs or alcohol in the body. This process, where neurotransmitters and other functions attempt to turn back to baseline levels, is one of the leading causes of withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms vary for each drug, and from person to person. In most cases, withdrawal symptoms begin within 48 hours after the last use. At this time, withdrawal symptoms enter the acute stage, where they are most severe. After which, the patient returns to baseline for several days. They may feel a sense of normalcy and will not experience cravings for drugs or alcohol. But after this stage, patients will enter the post-acute withdrawal timeline. Cravings for the substance, anxiety, and depression can occur. If a person in recovery experiences a trigger or stressor, they can easily relapse back into drug addiction.
It is during the process of withdrawal, recovery, and relapse that the kindling effect takes place. Each successive process of withdrawal, sobriety, and relapse worsens each step in the process of addiction. Every time a person relapses, they will experience a worsening of withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit again.
Right now, there is no definitive cause for the kindling effect. Scientists and medical professionals believe that it is caused by overly sensitive neurotransmitters that have been stressed from multiple withdrawal processes.