Drug withdrawal is a term that describes symptoms that your body experiences when you stop or cut back on alcohol or drugs. Withdrawing from drugs may involve a combination of mental, physical, and emotional symptoms, which can be dangerous and life threatening if left unmanaged. Withdrawal symptoms can vary in severity based on how long you have used certain substances and which substances you are using. If you have become dependent or addicted to certain substances, then drug rehab can help by using treatments like medical detox and medication-assisted treatment.
What Happens When Your Body Goes Through Withdrawal?
When you are using any kind of drugs or alcohol frequently, your body will gradually get used to the presence of these drugs in your system. As your body becomes dependent on these substances over time, you may start to feel like you need it to function or feel normal. When you suddenly cut back on these drugs or quit consuming them completely, your body will start going through withdrawal by producing a wide range of symptoms.
Common Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms
The severity of drug and alcohol symptoms depends on various factors, including the types of substances that are being used, how long they have used them, the frequency used, and more. Certain drugs, such as opioids and alcohol, can cause both mental and physical side effects, while drugs like cocaine and meth tend to cause more psychological symptoms.
In general, usually the symptoms of withdrawing from certain drugs tend to be the opposite of the symptoms you feel while taking that drug.
Symptoms Of Withdrawal From Drugs
- Tearing eyes
- Runny nose
- Hot and cold flushes
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle aches, tension, and cramps
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased appetite
- Poor concentration and memory
- Anxiety and depression
Specific Type of Drug Withdrawal
The list above are some common withdrawal symptoms. You may feel some of the symptoms depending on what drug you’re withdrawing from. The following are more specific withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can vary in severity, depending on the intensity of the addiction. The most common withdrawal symptoms are feelings of anxiety, depression, nervousness, jumpiness, insomnia, brain fog, nausea and vomiting, appetite loss, rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, tremors, clammy skin, agitation, severe confusion, hallucinations and seizures.
If you’re a moderate drinker, you will most likely experience moderate symptoms. If you’re a heavy drinker, you are more likely to experience severe symptoms, such as increased risk of seizures or delirium.
Withdrawal symptoms can start within a couple hours to a couple days since your last drink. Withdrawal symptoms may linger on one or two weeks, but more severe symptoms can go on for a month or more.
Prescription opioids are addictive drugs typically used for pain relief. Common ones are hydrocodone, oxycodone, and fentanyl. Heroin is an illegal opioid. Withdrawal symptoms can include feeling restless, pain in the muscles, sleeplessness, bone pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and hot and cold flashes.
When you start using any of these drugs, your tolerance level increases rapidly. This means you have to use more to get the desired effect. Typically, withdrawal symptoms from these drugs are not fatal, but they can be quite challenging.
You must always look out for relapsing, because if your tolerance has dropped, you put yourself at risk for overdosing on the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as a day or two after the last use. For those with a severe addiction, symptoms can begin within one or two hours.
Benzodiazepines include drugs like Xanax and Valium. Withdrawal symptoms can appear similar to alcohol withdrawal. Stopping abruptly is not recommended, as symptoms can occur rapidly, produce confusion, and trigger seizures that can be fatal.
These types of drugs are best to be treated in a physician-assisted medical detox program. They would put you on a tapering schedule, which means you receive a smaller dosage over time until you are weaned off them.
A stimulant is a drug that tends to give you energy or help you focus. Cocaine, methylphenidate and amphetamines are several stimulants you may have heard of. Withdrawal symptoms from these drugs tend to produce more emotional symptoms than physical. Other symptoms include depression, sweating, nervousness, fatigue, appetite increase, slowed thinking or movement, and feelings of restlessness.
Withdrawing from these types of drugs may cause you to experience strong cravings, as well as swing from high to low. In a medical detox you are given medications to help decrease cravings and other uncomfortable symptoms.
What Does Withdrawal Feel Like?
Overall, drug withdrawal can feel scary. You may fear feeling the uncomfortable symptoms, as well as not knowing if you’ll be able to actually quit long-term. There are many rehab facilities that offer detox drug treatments that can help you or a loved one safely withdraw from alcohol and drugs in a safe environment. This reduces risks for complications and offers you helpful support as you navigate recovery.