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Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

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Typically, people with a substance use disorder, go through withdrawal when they stop drinking alcohol or taking drugs. However, some of them don’t understand why they suffer drug withdrawal symptoms. Thus, knowing more makes them aware of their bodies and further motivates them to get help.

What Is Drug Withdrawal?

Overall, adjusting to change is withdrawal in a nutshell. It’s the process the brain goes through as it learns to function without drugs. However, the downside is that the rest of the body responds in the form of drug withdrawal symptoms. These various physical, emotional, and mental side effects even occur after people reduce their drug doses.

Identifying Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms people experience during withdrawal depend on the drugs they use. Even then, there’s no telling exactly what symptoms they’ll have or how severe they’ll be. This is because no one has the same biology, so their bodies react differently to the same drugs. However, common withdrawal symptoms do occur with certain drugs.

AlcoholA woman struggles with drug withdrawal symptoms

Alcohol is a socially acceptable drug that causes severe symptoms once drinking stops. The mental effects include anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, and mood swings. Often, people experience clammy skin and pupil dilation. Even worse, sometimes confusion and seizures occur. These symptoms start within eight hours after having your last drink. The process usually lasts about a week, but mood swings and trouble sleeping can last for months. However, delirium tremens is a fatal symptom that usually occurs on the second to fourth day of withdrawal. It involves major, sudden changes in the central nervous system. These changes can cause delirium, tremors, delusions, and sensitivity to light, sound, and touch. This condition is why detoxing from alcohol alone is extremely dangerous.


Although physical withdrawal symptoms are rare when people stop using cocaine, several mental effects may occur. These make it very hard to stop using the highly addictive stimulant. For example, they include memory loss, mood swings, fatigue, social isolation, and trouble sleeping. People also experience an increase in appetite, seizures, nightmares, suicidal thoughts, and paranoia. Because of the mental effects of cocaine, those with addiction often have additional mental disorders. Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and depression are the most common. On average, cocaine withdrawal lasts from five to 10 weeks. However, people can experience strong cravings for months.

Opiates and Opioids

Opiate and opioid use has substantially increased since 2000 because doctors prescribe narcotic painkillers quite often. Many people don’t intend to develop an addiction to these drugs. Unfortunately, addictions can develop even when following doctor’s orders. However, some people use them and turn to harder substances such as heroin when their prescriptions run out. Additionally, chemical changes in the brain make it very difficult to stop using opiates and opioids. Early withdrawal symptoms can start within six hours and include anxiety, sweating watery eyes, and muscle aches. About three days later, people experience abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Dehydration and lung infection can develop from diarrhea and vomiting as well. Typically, opiate and opioid withdrawal lasts for a week. However, some people experience anxiety, depression, and fatigue for much longer.

Red Oak Recovery® Can Help You Plan for Detox

If you want to stop using drugs, you need proper substance use treatment. Red Oak Recovery® can help you find quality detox to make drug withdrawal easier and safer. When your detox program ends, you can return to us for rehab programs which include:

Red Oak Recovery® provides a clinical approach to addiction treatment. We want to help young adults prepare for brighter futures, so we teach healthy living skills. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to receive nutrition counseling and participate in outdoor adventure activities. Don’t let drugs dictate your future. Take the first step today by calling Red Oak Recovery® at 866-457-7590.