What Are the Most Common Withdrawal Symptoms?

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One facet of substance abuse and addiction is the fact that once someone decides to stop taking drugs or drinking alcohol, withdrawal will have to be addressed. The longer and more heavily a substance is abused makes the more severe withdrawal symptoms present themselves during the beginning steps of detox.

Both your mind and body develop dependence on drugs and alcohol as these substances trigger the creation and release of different chemicals in our brains depending on the substance. Not only does this impact mood and behavior, but nervous system functions such as muscle control can be hindered as well.

Withdrawal Symptoms Vary Drastically

The symptoms experienced during withdrawal can range from flu-like symptoms to more severe and possibly life-threatening episodes of strokes, seizures and heart attack. Understanding what drives withdrawal symptoms can help you mentally prepare for them ahead of time. When it comes to drug withdrawal symptoms, expect to experience multiple of the following:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Sore muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Fever and hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Increase blood pressure and heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Delirium
  • Heightened levels of fear

Certain Symptoms Linked to Certain Substances

Now that we’ve covered a good amount of withdrawal symptoms, it’s time to narrow the scope a bit and take a look at how a few different substances and their associated symptoms.


Alcohol has a heavy impact both physically and mentally. Withdrawal symptoms will include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Shaking hands
  • Nausea

More severe alcohol symptoms from prolonged heavy drinking:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Memory loss during withdrawal
  • Seizures
  • Heart attack


Heroin, while stronger than alcohol, has a more targeted set of symptoms which includes:

  • Muscle soreness
  • Irritability
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia


Much like heroin, cocaine will have less overall symptoms but with greater concentration. You can expect:

  • Depression
  • Weight and appetite gain
  • Foggy head
  • Insomnia
  • Difficult time recalling memories

Don’t let some of these symptoms fool you into seeming like they aren’t something to worry about. Each one has a range of severity that dictates just how impactful each symptom ends up being.

In the case of alcohol addiction, withdrawal can be fatal if not handled in a medical setting under professional supervision. Alcohol withdrawal delirium, or AWD, is the term used and requires emergency medical attention as early as just a few hours after the user no longer has alcohol in their system.

Addiction Withdrawal In a Medical Setting

The risk of complications during withdrawal can be as dangerous as overdosing or drinking until alcohol poisoning sets in. Most concerning is the possibility that certain organs or internal systems will cease to function properly, leading to death if not properly treated and anticipated.

Addiction recovery specialists will be prepared to help make withdrawal as comfortable as possible with the use of benzodiazepines, pain killers, IV hydration and 24/7 supervision to make proper use of modern medicine available. Taking this approach can also help the user see that drugs are meant to be used in a medical capacity only given how jarring withdrawal symptoms can be.

After all of this information, withdrawal can seem like a scary option to pursue. Remember, the short-term symptoms of withdrawal are nothing compared to the lifetime of struggling many problem drug and alcohol users experience. Don’t hesitate to seek help, take a moment to learn just how simple the entire process can truly be.

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If you have tried to stop using alcohol or drugs on your own, you may feel that sobriety and clean living seem far away. However, with the help of caring staff members and a safe, structured environment, you can receive the guidance you need to fight cravings and regain control of your life.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our admission staff or learn more about our healing programs.