Drug and Alcohol

What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms occur early in recovery and can be incredibly intense. Medical detox can make withdrawal much easier to bear.

What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

June 1, 2022

The Edge Treatment Center

The use of drugs, alcohol and any other kind of addictive substance alters brain chemistry. Drug and alcohol abuse affects thoughts and behaviors, and also expectations and perception.

For those addicted to drugs and trying to stay sober in recovery, withdrawal can be the first major hurdle, bringing with it a myriad of discomforts and challenges to be faced.

Overcoming withdrawal symptoms is difficult, but it is never impossible. Learning what withdrawal is, how withdrawal affects the body, and how to overcome it is crucial for a healthy, sober lifestyle free from the use of drugs or alcohol.

When Do You Experience Withdrawal?

Many factors go into the manifestation of withdrawal symptoms. For many, withdrawal symptoms begin within a few days after one has gone without drinking or drug use and can make the beginning of the sober journey difficult. However, depending on the frequency with which one engaged with addictive substances, withdrawal symptoms may occur much earlier. In serious cases, they can even occur only hours after one’s last use or drink.

Withdrawal symptoms are most prevalent when the body is attempting to detox itself and remove the traces of addictive substances from the body to achieve a sober state and regain homeostasis.

Medically monitored detox is crucial during this phase of recovery to safely manage the symptoms of withdrawal while preventing relapse and other self-destructive behaviors.

The Wide Range of Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms of withdrawal are unique to each individual, and there is no way to predict exactly how withdrawal symptoms will affect someone. Depending on an individual’s frequency of substance use, the exact substances used, the amount used during each session, and how long one has used, withdrawal symptoms can range from fairly mild to intense, severe, or even life-threatening. This is why it's so important to have medical professionals involved in the process.

Different substances often have their own unique symptoms and severity. However, whether one is struggling with an addiction to alcohol, heroin, opioids, benzos, or any other kind of addictive substance, navigating withdrawal is always the first step toward sustained sobriety.

Possible Withdrawal Symptoms

While the symptoms one may experience can vary, some of the most common withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Insomnia

  • Nightmares

  • Sweating

  • Paranoia

  • Trembling

  • Elevated blood pressure

  • Mood swings

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Panic

  • Irritability

  • Diarrhea

  • Hallucinations

  • Seizures

These symptoms can be extraordinarily difficult to process and may require medical attention to safely navigate. Mitigating emotional symptoms like anxiety, depression, and panic is crucial for emotional health while going through withdrawal. Physical discomfort can cause an individual to feel compelled to engage with addictive substances again, even against their better judgment, in an effort to get withdrawal symptoms to stop.

The Need for Detox

It can be very difficult to truly embrace a sober lifestyle and implement new sober coping strategies if there are still remnants of substances affecting the brain. Detoxing the body and mind allows the brain to begin reclaiming sober homeostasis—a consistent state of normalcy based on sobriety rather than altered by the destructive effects of addictive substances.

While detoxification is difficult due to the prevalence of withdrawal symptoms, it is also a necessary step for future health. Dedicated detox programs provide the necessary medical and psychological care and monitoring to help individuals seeking treatment get through this time.

Medical detox can not only help an individual better understand and identify withdrawal symptoms but also help manage and even prevent further severe symptoms from manifesting through early identification, education, resources, and action.

Withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming. Professional management of withdrawal symptoms can situate an individual in the best, most comfortable state in which to pursue sobriety, all while helping them prevent relapse during this important phase of their recovery. Each person will also need to learn dedicated coping strategies to navigate this time—something mental health professionals need to introduce.

Dedicated detox facilities are crucial for helping each individual understand and overcome these symptoms, providing support even when withdrawal feelings feel enveloping or intense. 

Overcoming Withdrawal

Just as there are dozens of symptoms and a range of severities that may present themselves, there are also several strategies for overcoming withdrawal. For some, a safe and comfortable space can provide the necessary environment to overcome their symptoms.

However, educated medical professionals are also instrumental in providing medication and strategies to manage severe symptoms.

There is no one path to sobriety, though withdrawal is often the first and most intense hurdle that many will have to overcome. Coping with the physical and emotional ramifications of withdrawal while the body and mind are still accustomed to the use of addictive substances can create a very volatile environment with a high probability of relapse.

However, knowing and preparing for withdrawal symptoms and engaging in drug & alcohol addiction rehab programs is the first step toward prioritizing sustained, healthy sobriety for the future ahead. 

Withdrawal Is A Hurdle, But Only A Temporary One

Withdrawal presents a major hurdle early in your recovery, but it is always possible to navigate the changes and symptoms during this time with the right support and approach.

At The Edge Treatment Center, we understand the need for dedicated professionals to help you detox and manage any withdrawal symptoms that may result. We are prepared to help you cope with these symptoms and continue prioritizing your sobriety throughout each stage of your recovery journey.

For more information on how we can personalize your recovery journey, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation and concerns, contact The Edge Treatment Center today.

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