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Symptoms Of Drug Withdrawal

symptoms of drug withdrawal

The fear of drug withdrawal can be a major barrier to quitting, however, the consequences of continued drug use can be far worse.

Drug addiction occurs because after a while the introduction of a substance gives an individual this feel-good effect with dopamine, and the human body gets used to feeling good. When an individual stops, they no longer feel good - causing them to go back and use the substance again.

The effects of withdrawal occur when an individual abruptly reduces or stops long-term use of a drug.

Knowing the symptoms of drug withdrawal and what to expect during the process can help ease fears of quitting.

The symptoms an individual experiences will depend on the type of medication from which they are withdrawing. NIH (National Institutes of Health) notes that the following symptoms may occur as a result of specific substances.

Opioids & Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, codeine, morphine, and others. Opioids bind to the opioid receptors in the brain, blocking feelings of pain and producing a sense of calm.

Symptoms of opioid withdrawal may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Anxiety

  • Agitation and irritability

  • Insomnia

  • Hot and cold flushes

  • Sweating

  • Muscle cramps

  • Diarrhea

Benzodiazepines Withdrawal Symptoms

Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants used to treat anxiety, insomnia and sleeping disorders. They slow down messages from the brain to the body, causing a calming effect. Common benzodiazepines include Xanax, Valium, Klonopin and Ativan.

Symptoms of Benzodiazepine withdrawal may include:

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia

  • Restlessness

  • Agitation and irritability

  • Poor concentration and memory

  • Muscle tension and aches

Stimulants Withdrawal Symptoms

Stimulants are drugs such as methamphetamine, amphetamine and cocaine. Prescription stimulants increase the activity of the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is the chemical released that increases pleasure.At normal levels, dopamine acts as a reinforcement to encourage us to do simple tasks such as eating. Norepinephrine affects blood vessels, blood pressure and heart rate, blood sugar, and breathing.

Symptoms of stimulant withdrawal may include:

  • Agitation and irritability

  • Depression

  • Increased sleeping

  • Increased appetite

  • Muscle aches

  • Thoughts of suicide

How Long Does Drug Withdrawal Last?

Withdrawal symptoms may last for several days, but they can also continue for a number of weeks depending on:

  • How long an individual used the substance from which they are withdrawing

  • The amount of the substance that was regularly used

  • Other co-existing health conditions, such as diabetes, depression, or high blood pressure


Short acting opioids like heroin can cause withdrawal symptoms within hours or a day after last use, and resolve within two weeks. Withdrawal symptoms from longer acting opioids like oxycodone may take a few days to appear and last several weeks.


Short-acting benzodiazepines can cause withdrawal symptoms within hours and resolve within a week or so. Longer acting benzodiazepines may take up to a week to appear and take a month or longer to resolve.


General stimulant withdrawal can cause symptoms within a few days of last and peak after a week or two. Physical symptoms then lessen over time. However, cravings could continue for months making it hard to answer how long withdrawal lasts.

Finding Help

Withdrawals can be better navigated with the right help. If you’re planning on quitting a drug habit, enlisting the help of a support network or addiction specialist can be helpful to get through the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

For some, medically-assisted detox or medication assisted treatment (MAT) can soothe the physical symptoms of withdrawal or alleviate the cravings and urges that come with it. After drug withdrawal, addiction treatment is an important step toward long-term recovery.

At Care Addiction Center, we offer treatment plans that address every facet of your addiction, serving individuals in Geneva, Batavia, Sycamore, St. Charles, and Kane County, with online addiction treatment available anywhere in Illinois. 

To get started on the road to recovery, or if you have questions about helping yourself or a loved one, call us today or schedule a confidential assessment online and begin treatment.


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