Everything You Need to Know About Drug Withdrawal

At GH Recovery Solutions substance abuse treatment facility, we are fully educated on how drugs and alcohol are physically and addictive. Your body develops a new normal, due to continued use of these substances. With certain drugs, alcohol, and even caffeine, it can be much more challenging to get clean because the body is now unable to function properly without them. When you deprive your body of these substances that you have been consuming for some time, your body goes into withdrawal or what is also known as detoxification.

Withdrawal is your body’s way of building itself back up to function without these substances. Depending on the substance that is being withdrawn from, these symptoms can be discomforting, and in some cases, life-threatening. Many different substances can cause withdrawal, and a prevalent one is caffeine. Someone who goes every day with a cup of coffee or an energy drink and skips a day develop headaches, tension, and tiredness as withdrawal symptoms from not consuming caffeine.

What Substances Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

Not all substances can cause the body to become dependant on them, and there are different levels of dependency physically and mentally. For example, your body becomes dependent on opioids and nicotine almost immediately. And then you have substances such as benzodiazepines and alcohol, while these are still very addicting, it takes a little while longer for your body to adjust to and become dependent on.
Substances that can cause physical dependency are:

  • Opiates (i.e., Morphine, Oxycodone, Heroin, Fentanyl, Vicodin, Percocet, etc.)
  • Benzodiazepines (i.e., Klonopin, Valium, Xanax, etc.)
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar

While substances such as sugar, caffeine, and nicotine do cause physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when you stop consuming them, this blog is more focus on illicit drugs. Illicit drugs are immensely more dangerous and far more physically and mentally addictive. The three most addictive drugs are Opiates, Benzodiazepines, and Alcohol. The withdrawal from each of these substances bring about a lot of discomfort, and in the worst cases, the withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening. In cases where someone is withdrawing from any of these three substances, it is strongly advised they seek professional medical attention to ensure their safety.

What Are The Drug Withdrawal Symptoms?

Each substance, no matter which substance it may be, they all have relatively similar withdrawal symptoms. The severity of one’s symptoms depends on the substance being used, the amount used, and the length of time the person had been using. Here are the common symptoms for each substance.

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms from opiates usually begin within 6-12 hours for short acting opiates, and for longer acting opiates, the symptoms start within 30 hours:

  • Tearing up
  • Muscle aches
  • Agitation
  • Trouble falling/staying aslee
  • Excessive yawning
  • Anxiety
  • Runny nose
  • Sweats
  • Racing heart
  • Hypertension
  • Fever
  • Restless limbs

Symptoms worsen within 72 hours of last use and can last up to a week or so:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps
  • Stomach cramps
  • Depression
  • Drug craving

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from Benzos are highly dangerous and is strongly suggest if you or someone you know are going through withdrawals, you seek medical attention immediately.
Less severe Benzo withdrawal symptoms:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Hand tremors
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty concentration
  • Confusion

More severe Benzo withdrawal symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Dry retching/Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Palpitations
  • Headache
  • Muscular pain
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis
  • Suicide

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Like benzos, if you or a loved one are going through alcohol withdrawals, it is strongly advised to seek medical attention in a hospital or detox facility. Alcohol is the most dangerous substance to withdrawal from with benzos following.

Mild symptoms of alcohol withdrawals, typically 6 hours since their last drink. These include:

  • Anxiety
  • Shaky hands
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating

More severe problems brought on by alcohol withdrawal can lead to hallucinations within the 12-24 hour mark since their last drink, and in cases that go on longer than two days, seizures can occur as well. You are now at the stage where you can see, hear and at times even feel things that aren’t there. This is not the delirium tremens stage (aka DT’s). The DT stage begins typically within the 48-72 hour mark of last drink. These are the most severe symptoms that include vivid hallucinations and delusions. Those who go through this phase of withdrawal consist of only 5% of the people who go through alcohol withdrawals. Those who go through delirium tremens have:

  • Confusion
  • Racing heart
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Heavy sweating
  • Seizures
  • Tremors

How Long do Drug or Alcohol Withdrawals Last?

As described earlier, the length and severity of drug and alcohol withdrawals can vary based on the substance that is being used, how long the individual has been struggling with these substances and the amount of which was being used. Withdrawal symptoms for most substances can last as long as a few hours to a few weeks.

What Should you do if you are Experiencing Withdrawals?

If you or a loved one has come to the decisions to give up using drugs or alcohol and begin going through withdrawal symptoms, it can be tough to overcome the discomfort alone. For many, withdrawal symptoms are what keep them from seeking help and continue in the vicious cycle of addiction, all to avoid the feeling of discomfort. Hospitals and medical detoxes are available and have trained professionals to assist with the detox process. In many of these locations, not only will they help you detox comfortably and safely, but they will also help guide you to your next step for continuing your recovery.

When you make it through your withdrawals, it is crucial to recognize that because your body is now physically withdrawn and free from substances, does not mean you are clear from your addiction. Remembering drug and alcohol use is a symptom of an internal condition that needs to be appropriately treated according to your needs; as each person’s needs are unique and different. Seeking treatment options once you have completed detoxing is paramount to you staying sober. The key is to treat your internal condition that causes you to use in the first place. To protect yourself from future relapses, you need to protect yourself from ever going through that again.

Here at GH Recovery Solutions, we understand the discomfort of going through the withdrawal process. It is unpleasant, miserable, and can be agonizing for some. If you or a loved one are addicted to using drugs or alcohol, we hope you only have to go through this process once. To ensure you only have to go through this detoxing process once, is by getting medical help through your withdrawals, and immediately attend a treatment facility following your detox to continue your care.

To learn more about what we offer here at GH Recovery Solutions, call us today! (888) 345-2025