The Stages of Drug Addiction Withdrawal

Different drugs have varied withdrawal symptoms including, fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxiety, irritability, drug cravings and more…

Addictive drugs and alcohol make changes to the way the brain processes emotions and regulates mood. Many of these changes create a flood of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which create an artificial feeling of pleasure, or a “high.” Continued abuse of drugs or alcohol interferes with the motivation and reward chemistry and circuitry, resulting in drug cravings and dependence.

The symptoms of drug withdrawal, and the length of that withdrawal, vary depending on the drug of abuse and the length of the addiction. These are a few withdrawal symptoms for major targets of abuse:

• Heroin: Withdrawal begins within 12 hours of the last dose, peaks within 24-48 hours, and lasts a week to up to a few months. It can cause flu-like symptoms.

• Prescription painkillers: Withdrawal starts in 8-12 hours for most prescription opiates, peaks in 12-48 hours, and lasts 5-10 days usually. Methadone withdrawal begins within 24-48 hours, peaks in the first few days, and lasts 2-4 weeks. Flu-like symptoms are present.

• Benzodiazepines: Withdrawal may begin within 1-4 days, peaking in the first two weeks. In some cases, protracted withdrawal can last months or even years without treatment. Withdrawal symptoms presents with anxiety and/or seizures lasting weeks or months.

• Cocaine: Withdrawal starts within hours of the last dose, peaking in a few days and lasting from a week to 10 weeks. It often presents with depression and restlessness lasting 7-10 days.

• Alcohol: Withdrawal usually begins between eight hours of last drink up to a few days after drinking, peaks within 24-72 hours, and can last a few weeks. Withdrawal presents with tremors and/or seizures lasting 3 days to several weeks.

The bulk of withdrawal symptoms will be present during the acute withdrawal phase and may include:

• Tension , panic attacks, general anxiety, irritability and depression
• Difficulty concentration and short-term memory loss
• Tremors, nausea, headaches, heart palpitations , irregular heart beat and hypertension
• Teary eyed, runny nose, yawning and restlessness, goose flesh, vomiting and diarrhea
• Muscle pain and stiffness, sweating, chills, loss of appetite
• Disturbed sleep

The above list is comprehensive, but not necessarily all inclusive. Different drugs and alcohol present with different signs and symptoms when in withdrawal. Some drugs present a life threatening withdrawal process if not medically monitored such alcohol and benzodiazepines. Other drugs such as opiates and marijuana are not life threatening but withdrawal can be made more comfortable under the supervision of medical staff. For help with drug addiction withdrawal, please contact Victory Detox at (800) 906-1629.

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