Drug and Alcohol - Addiction Recovery

Different Drug Withdrawal Symptoms & Causes

Withdrawal symptoms are justifiably feared … but drug rehab makes them easier to tolerate. Learn more about drug withdrawal symptoms in our blog!

Different Drug Withdrawal Symptoms & Causes

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

January 4, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

Withdrawal symptoms are a physiological response of the body when an individual suddenly stops or reduces substance usage. It is when he or she has become dependent on the substance and cannot refrain from its usage. As a result of stopping, the body produces uncomfortable sensations known as withdrawal symptoms.

Read until the end to learn about the symptoms of drug withdrawal, causes, treatment, and timeline. Withdrawal can be potentially dangerous, so it is best to have a comprehensive idea about it!

What Is Drug Withdrawal?

According to the drug withdrawal definition recognized by American associations, it is a chronic yet treatable medical condition. It triggers complex interactions among brain circuits, the environment, genetics, and someone’s life experience. Moreover, people involved in these activities often experience a change in behavior that is compulsive and include harmful consequences. 

What Are the Causes of Drug Withdrawal?

Drug withdrawal symptoms are the result of one’s dependence on a drug in the form of addiction. So, when he/she stops using the drug, the body displays a negative reaction. 

The body and brain work together to maintain a state of balance, also called homeostasis. However, when a person starts taking a substance, it changes this balance by disturbing the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. 

Here, if someone abruptly stops the usage of a substance, triggers an imbalance between the body and the brain and hence causes withdrawal symptoms.

What Substances Cause Drug Withdrawal Symptoms?

The commonly used substances that cause withdrawal symptoms are:

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What Are the Symptoms of Drug Withdrawal?

Though it will depend on the type of substance used, mentioned below are the common signs of drug withdrawal:

  • Muscle pain or aches

  • Trembling and tremors

  • Sweating 

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite or hunger

  • Anxiety 

  • Depression

  • Stress

  • Dilated pupils

  • Seizures

  • Paranoia

  • Confusion

  • Insomnia

How Long Do Drug Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Drug withdrawal can last between several days to weeks. However, in some cases, it also continues a bit longer. This length dramatically depends on a couple of factors mentioned below:

  • Type of drug used

  • Quantity of use

  • Duration of use

  • Medication taken

  • Individual characteristics, i.e., mental and physical condition

The drug withdrawal timeline for acute symptoms involves signs becoming visible within a few hours or a day after the last usage of the substance. However, it only takes a time of 1 to 2 weeks to resolve. 

Mild withdrawal syndromes that remain beyond the acute symptoms can persist for several months or even years. However, they tend to fade over time. 

How to Treat Drug Withdrawal Symptoms?

A comprehensive treatment for drug withdrawal includes a combination of care, support, and medications to ease the side effects. Besides, it also helps in preventing possible complications.

  • Self Help: In some conditions, one can manage withdrawal symptoms after stopping the usage of some substances abruptly on their own. For example, if the individual is addicted to caffeine, it is easy to cope with the withdrawal symptoms.

  • Medical Help: In other cases, like in alcohol and benzodiazepines addiction, withdrawal can be potentially dangerous, so it is always advisable to consult a professional for a detox plan. Proper medical assistance minimizes threats and gets rid of unpleasant symptoms effectively.

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What Measures to Take for Drug Withdrawal Treatment?

The measures one can take for drug withdrawal treatment include:

  • Lifestyle Practices: One can follow a few coping techniques besides drug withdrawal medical procedures to amplify the cure. It includes:

  • Eat Well: Maintain a healthy diet by including all the nutritious food in the meal. Also, avoid eating sugary, fatty, and fried food as it often worsens the condition. 

  • Drink Enough Fluid: It is essential to stay hydrated when having withdrawal symptoms. This is especially applicable for those experiencing flu-like signs, including vomiting and nausea. 

  • Stress Management: Withdrawal management requires both physiological and medical care of addicts. So, it serves helpful to adopt activities like yoga and meditation to cope with the withdrawal experience. 

  • Sleep: Though insomnia is a common symptom of withdrawal, individuals should try to get the appropriate amount of sleep. For this, one may have to practice habits for good sleep.

  • Relieve Symptoms with OTC Medications: Over-the-counter medication helps treat symptoms like upset stomach, headache, or diarrhea. However, if it is a case of prescription drug withdrawal, consult a doctor before taking any other medication. 

  • Share with Others: Handling withdrawal symptoms can be difficult on one’s own. So, people must seek a social help group apart from medical assistance. Here, sharing feelings with a trusted friend or family can also do. 

Drug Withdrawal Medications

Doctors may prescribe medications for substance use depending on the type of drug used and visible withdrawal symptoms. It includes:

  • Librium 

  • Valium

  • Methadone

  • Ativan

  • Buprenex

  • Catapres

Doctors can suggest many other medications for drug withdrawal specific to the symptoms. These are often antipsychotic, anti-anxiety medications, and anticonvulsants. Besides this, there may also be drugs to treat sleep and control nausea problems.

Supporting a Loved One During Drug Withdrawal

A recognized research paper suggests that when helping someone with an addiction, there has to be constant reassurance and encouragement to quit. The caregiver should also support the abuser to strictly follow up with the treatment program. To be more precise, it includes the following.

  • Support Them: One can only be able to support by being available in the crucial hours of need. Thus, be present and available constantly. Also, listen to the problem the sufferer is sharing, provide comfort and offer a shoulder to cry on. 

  • Take Care of Yourself: You can only be able to comfort someone else when you are also taking care of yourself. So, make sure not to get drained physically or mentally by practicing yoga or meditation. Also, attend to all your needs first, then check in on others.

  • Provide Practical Help: Withdrawal often accompanies physical conditions like vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. So, help the loved ones by assisting them, preparing meals, or checking on them.

  • Search for a Treatment Option: One of the essential things an individual can do to help is to find the best treatment option that is uniquely suitable for your loved one. It involves looking for a rehab center that meets the specific requirements of the addict. Also, look for a center that offers comprehensive treatment plans like drug withdrawal detoxification, inpatient, outpatient, and partial hospitalization.

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Can Drug Withdrawal Be Dangerous?

Typically, drug withdrawal is not dangerous. However, there are other instances where symptoms of withdrawal proved to be fatal to life. This is specifically for withdrawal from opioids, benzodiazepines, or alcohol. However, these can be managed better with a medically assisted detox process and in the presence of trained individuals. 

Also, withdrawal from stimulants like amphetamines, methamphetamine, and cocaine affects mental health. Thus, they experience severe depression and suicidal thoughts. 

When to Look for Medical Help for Drug Withdrawal?

You should never attempt drug withdrawal on your own. That said, there are certain crucial times when one may need the immediate assistance of drug withdrawal specialists. These include when an addict is experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty in breathing

  • Delusions

  • Tremors or seizure

  • Rapid heartbeats

  • Hallucination

  • Loss of consciousness 

If experiencing these, contact professionals for support.

4 Tips to Deal with Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

The following are certain lifestyle changes that help deal with drug withdrawal symptoms in a better way:

Tip 1: Feel Your Grief and Work Through It

The reason for drug or alcohol abuse is often grief of losing a loved one. So, to withdraw from it safely, it is advised to feel and work through the grief first. Dealing with the bend-up emotions can help you come to terms with them and avoid risky symptoms.

Tip 2: Remember You Are Safe 

If there is a feeling of anxiousness, calm it by remembering this anxiety is only because your body is healing. So, you are safe and will recover soon. However, seek medical assistance if it keeps increasing and accompanies other symptoms.

Tip 3: Motivate Yourself

Remember that life is worth living and that mood swings will only last a few days. After some time, it will feel much better.

Tip 4: Take Proper Rest

Withdrawal can be exhausting, but people often ignore it and keep doing their work at the same pace. However, instead, closely listen to the body and, if necessary, take a break. Also, get enough sleep and don’t socialize over-extensively.  

Hope you now have all your questions answered on the different drug withdrawal symptoms and causes, along with how to treat them. This article also gives an idea of the drugs that can result in severe symptoms and when to seek medical help. Lastly, help your loved ones find the best treatment center with a holistic cure. 

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Would you like more information about withdrawal symptoms and their causes? Reach out today.

The Edge Treatment Center Provides Expert Help for Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Remember that treatment does not feel restricted and painful with the right professional help. For example, The Edge Treatment Center offers a dual diagnosis treatment focusing on developing both physical and mental health. 

So, while you get proper medications for symptom control, you can also improve your mental condition by trying fun activities. They include ziplining, kayaking, beach parties, etc. Contact us today and free yourself from drug addiction!

Frequently Asked Questions (Faqs)

What are the different types of drugs which causes withdrawal responses?

The symptoms of withdrawal depend on the type of drug one is taking. It includes cannabis, antidepressants, barbiturates, opioids, stimulants, inhalants, hallucinogens, depressants, and others. Common substances that can cause withdrawal symptoms include alcohol, heroin, oxytocin, and nicotine. 

Is drug withdrawal painful?

Drug withdrawal can be painful, as common symptoms of drug quitting are muscle pain, cramping due to an overactive gastrointestinal system, and muscle tension. 

What cases lead to seizures from drug withdrawal?

Seizure from drug withdrawal is common in the case of sedative abuse. Withdrawal from sedatives for the central nervous system leads to seizure if done hastily. However, there are other reasons, too, like benzodiazepine and alcohol withdrawal.

What is the outlook for drug withdrawal treatment?

Relapse is common among people undergoing treatment. Make sure to attend the drug withdrawal therapies, join support groups and go to scheduled appointments to stay on track.

How can one identify drug withdrawal symptoms in loved ones?

As withdrawal changes the brain, one can identify withdrawal symptoms in loved ones by noticing changes in behavior. For example, the addict may fall into depression, feel anxiety that worsens daily, experience rapid mood swings, and feel exhausted. 

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