Dangers of The “Kindling Effect”

The term “kindling” probably conjures up images of using twigs and small pieces of wood to quickly start a fire. In terms of alcohol and substance use addiction, kindling does hold a similar idea of speeding up a process like creating a fire, but the results of this effect can be dangerous, even fatal. 

What Is Kindling?

Without proper addiction treatment, those suffering from alcohol and substance use are likely to relapse. In fact, on average 60% of recovering addicts will experience a relapse (National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA) and each time this happens, neurotransmitters in the brain and central nervous system are significantly impacted causing withdrawal symptoms to become even more severe and intense. These symptoms are the body’s response to the sudden absence of drugs or alcohol in the system. These repeated cycles of drinking or using drugs, withdrawal, and relapse can trigger the condition known as kindling or the kindling effect.

What Substances Cause the Kindling Effect?

According to an article by Howard C. Becker, Ph.D. (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NIAAA), kindling is found to most likely to occur with hypnotic-sedative drugs including alcohol, benzodiazepines, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers. Severe withdrawal symptoms made worse by the kindling effect are most pronounced and dangerous with alcohol addiction. 

Kindling Symptoms

The symptoms of kindling withdrawal are the same as those of withdrawal in general, just more pronounced. Kindling can cause seizures, cardiac problems, and even death. However, withdrawals and symptoms may vary depending on the type and length of drug or alcohol abuse. For example, the signs of alcohol kindling are the following symptoms getting worse with each subsequent withdrawal:

How Kindling Affects Recovery

The risk for kindling makes effective, long-term treatment even more important. The increased severity of withdrawal can make the symptoms a person experiences even more amplified and recovery after relapse more difficult. Inpatient treatment is usually recommended for people who’ve relapsed from drugs or alcohol before. Typically, kindling symptoms are aggressively treated so withdrawal symptoms do not worsen or become fatal. 

Kindling, Addiction, and Treatment

Avoiding kindling means avoiding successive relapses. Kindling effects usually don’t start to happen unless someone has relapsed several times. The most effective way to prevent relapse is through tailored treatment and support. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction or a substance use disorder, get help now. It could mean the difference between life and death. Do not be afraid to take the first step toward a healthy, new, sober lifestyle—contact the recovery experts at Daylight Recovery Services today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.