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If you are considering quitting drugs and alcohol use, you may be wondering a number of things, such as — what is withdrawal? Does everyone go through withdrawal? What does withdrawal feel like?

What is addiction withdrawal?

Addiction withdrawal is all the challenging physical and mental side effects that come as a result of quitting the use of drugs and alcohol. It is what the body goes through as it begins to reset, free from addictive chemicals. 

Depending on each individual case, the effects of addiction withdrawal can vary from client to client. Some factors which determine the severity of withdrawal may include: 

  • How long you were using drugs and/or alcohol;
  • The amount you were consuming on a regular basis; 
  • Any other underlying mental or physical health conditions;
  • The level of dependence your body and brain experienced on the drug. 

Addiction withdrawal side effects can be dangerous and, in some cases, fatal, so when choosing to pursue detoxification, consider enrolling in a professional detox program for your safety and peace of mind.  

Withdrawal signs and symptoms 

What does withdrawal feel like? If you have fallen ill as a result of stopping drug and or alcohol use, it’s likely that you’re experiencing withdrawal side effects. The body, while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, learned to rely on synthetic chemicals for serotonin and dopamine production. Now, however, it’s being forced to produce these chemicals at normal, natural levels. 

As a result, you may feel a number of withdrawal symptoms. However, these symptoms will vary depending on the substances being abused. 

The most commonly abused substances include alcohol, short-acting opioids like heroin, long-acting opioids like methadone, benzodiazepines and cocaine. 

Signs of withdrawal from alcohol 

  • Anxiety and agitation;
  • Seizures;
  • Pulse racing;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Hallucinations;
  • Sweating;
  • Headaches;
  • Insomnia.

Signs of alcohol withdrawal may begin as short as a few hours following the last drink; they may peak anywhere between 24 and 72 hours later, but withdrawal symptoms may last for up to eight days.

Opioid withdrawal 

For substances like heroin and prescription painkillers, signs of withdrawal include: 

  • Flu-like symptoms, including runny nose, body aches and hot and cold flashes;
  • Insomnia and repetitive yawning;
  • Goosebumps and/or excessive sweating;
  • Nausea and diarrhea.

While detoxing from opioids is not as life-threatening as other withdrawing processes, it is still unpleasant and physically taxing. Oftentimes, the biggest threat is returning to opioids as a means of lessening withdrawal symptoms because detox was attempted on one’s own. 

Benzodiazepine withdrawal 

Many prescription medications unfortunately have led to addiction, including common ones like Xanax and Valium. Withdrawing from a benzodiazepine addiction may include symptoms like: 

  • Hallucinations;
  • Irregular sleeping patterns;
  • Sweating, agitation and increased heart rate;
  • Anxiety and panic;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Seizures.

While medically prescribed in the first place, these prescriptions can cause a lot of damage to individuals if not closely monitored by a medical professional. 

Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal 

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can begin almost immediately after use deceases, and can last for several weeks as a result of the drug’s severe hijacking in the brain. 

Possible symptoms include: 

  • A depressed mood, accompanied by exhaustion or lethargy;
  • Insomnia (not being able to sleep), or hypersomnia (constantly sleeping);
  • Difficulty focusing, in addition to slowed thoughts;
  • Increased appetite;
  • Anxiety, paranoia and irritability;
  • Severe cravings.

While it does not pose many physical dangers, the psychological trial of withdrawing from cocaine challenges many, and is best done with the assistance of a medical professional.

How can the effects of withdrawal I feel be lessened? 

A very real aspect of detoxing from drugs, and one which intimidates many people when deciding whether or not to cease substance use, is the fact that addiction withdrawal can feel painful, mentally and physically. 

However, quitting “cold turkey” is not the only option for ceasing drug use and many addiction treatment facilities are equipped to make withdrawal as manageable as possible. 

For some, this might be enrolling in a medically assisted detox program, where medications are used to help in the lessening of the more severe withdrawal symptoms. Medically assisted detox is not the swapping of one medication for another, rather, it is using a non-addictive medicine to help the body break its dependence on addictive substances.

If you are interested in speaking with someone about a detox program to help you manage withdrawal symptoms, consider reaching out to Silvermist Recovery today. Our therapists will talk with you about the best plan for your recovery, as well as answer all your questions regarding withdrawal. 
Call Silvermist Recovery at 724-268-4858.