Addiction Withdrawal: How to Help Someone Going Through Withdrawal

5 min read · 2 sections

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Drugs and alcohol change the chemical makeup of the brain, and regular use of mind-altering substances can cause dependence to form. Brain circuitry and chemistry will attempt to regulate as drugs and/or alcohol process out of the body after dependence has formed, and this causes withdrawal symptoms. The duration, intensity, and type of withdrawal symptoms will differ based on which drug was used, the method of abuse, the level of dependency, and if there are any co-occurring disorders present.

Some substances, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids, could be severely unpleasant, or even dangerous when stopped “cold turkey,” or suddenly, as withdrawal symptoms can be significant and even life-threatening. In these instances, withdrawal should be managed with the aid of medical detox and trained treatment professionals.

Side Effects of Drug Withdrawal

Side effects of drug withdrawal may include insomnia, depression, irritability, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nightmares, muscle aches, back and joint pain, tremors, restlessness, cravings, depression, anxiety, agitation, seizures, irregular heart rate, high or low blood pressure, respiratory distress, sweating, fever, cold and clammy skin, dilated pupils, tingling in the extremities, mental confusion, short-term memory issues, trouble concentrating, paranoia, delirium, hallucinations, excitability, watery eyes, bouts of crying, runny nose, shakiness, suicidal thoughts, pain sensitivity, disorientation, muscle weakness, and appetite fluctuations.

Whether you’ve struggled with cocaine, marijuana, heroin, opioid, or other types of substance dependence, withdrawal is a process we can help you navigate. Receiving professional help can keep you comfortable and safe. At American Addiction Centers, we provide medical detox, treatment, and ongoing care in a safe, supportive environment. Call one of our admission navigators at Or you can fill in our form below.

Take Our “Am I a Drug Addict?” Self-Assessment

Take our free, 5-minute “Am I A Drug Addict?” self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with drug addiction. The evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are intended to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result.

Withdrawal Aftercare

Medical detox is typically a first step toward recovery, and by managing it well, individuals can build a strong foundation for recovery. After detox, an individual should enter into an addiction treatment program in order to build upon these healthy habits. The real work of recovery takes place in therapy following withdrawal, but it’s important to be supported during withdrawal to ensure it is completed successfully. Verify if your insurance may be able to cover all or part of the cost of detox or rehab.

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