symptoms of drug withdrawal

The Mental & Physical Symptoms of Drug Withdrawal

As important as it is to make the life-changing decision to get clean and sober, knowing what to expect during detox and withdrawal will prepare you to enter treatment fully armed.  Too often addicts impulsively undertake a cold turkey approach to ending their drug use without understanding the importance of a safe and supportive detox environment.  In these cases, as soon as the mental and physical symptoms of drug withdrawal become uncomfortable many will throw in the towel and return to using drugs.  Being prepared will help reinforce your commitment to sobriety.  For the best chances of completing the detox and withdrawal phase of treatment, read on.

What are the Mental and Physical Symptoms of Drug Withdrawal?

There is a wide range of symptoms of drug withdrawal that vary depending on which drug is involved.  Both the severity of symptoms and the level of danger to the addict are dictated by which class of drug is being discontinued, including alcohol.  Generally, detoxing from alcohol, heroin, benzodiazepines, and methamphetamine are the most dangerous and can present life-threatening symptoms.

The duration of the withdrawal period varies as well based on the level of dependency, the length of time abusing the substance, and the type of drug itself.  Most withdrawal symptoms emerge within 8-24 hours after the last dose and peak around day 2 or 3, but, again, it varies depending on the severity of the addiction and the type of drug.

Here is a summary of the symptoms of drug withdrawal based on the type of drug:

Alcohol Withdrawal:

  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations and delirium
  • Seizures
  • Heart attack, strokes
  • Delirium Tremens (can be fatal)

Prescription Opioids Withdrawal (Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Ambien, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, Librium, Zolpidem, and more):

  • Seizures
  • Nervousness
  • Fear, paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Shaking
  • Anxiety, panic
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Pain, muscle aches
  • Changes in senses

Opiate Withdrawal (Heroin, Vicodin, Percocet, Norco, Hydrocodone, Morphine, and more):

  • Feeling frightened
  • Extreme discomfort
  • Muscle pain
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Insomnia
  • Chills
  • Tremors

Cocaine or Crack Withdrawal:

  • Shaking, sweating
  • Seizure, strokes
  • Respiratory failure
  • Depression
  • Strong cravings
  • Muscle Aches
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Convulsions
  • Aggression
  • Suicidal

Methamphetamines withdrawal:

  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizure
  • Intense craving
  • Shaking and tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heart palpitations
  • Respiratory failure
  • Chills
  • Profuse sweating

Barbiturate Withdrawal (Seconal, Brevital, Pentothal, Mebaral, Nembutal, and more):

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Seizures

The Importance of Medically-Monitored Drug Detox and Withdrawal

While some types of drugs can be detoxed through an outpatient facility, many addicts should opt for a medically supervised detox.  Detoxing in an environment that is staffed with health practitioners who can monitor withdrawal symptoms will provide a needed layer of safety and support in the event serious life-threatening symptoms arise.  Additionally, medically managed detox can address the common symptoms of drug withdrawal such as nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, and insomnia with medications that help ease the discomfort.

Some detox facilities may offer drug anti-craving medications such as naltrexone and buprenorphine to block opiate receptors and reduce opiate and alcohol cravings.  These anti-craving medications, however, do not stop the emotional aspect of craving.

Addiction Helplines Can Help You Select a Detox Center

When you have made the important decision to stop using drugs or alcohol, you may find such a myriad of treatment options out there that you just freeze in your tracks.  Let the dedicated team at Addiction Helplines help direct you to the right program for your needs.  With an extensive treatment network, multiple locations, and various treatment options available, our expert staff will help to narrow down your search and take the stress out of the decision-making process.  For direct guidance to a medically-monitored detox program, call us today at (877) 228-3270.

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