Facts About Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal
With continuous drug abuse, the addict starts to crave the feelings of euphoria that the drugs have
Since this uplifting feeling is so pleasant, the drug addicted individual is highly motivated to keep on
When drug abuse becomes regular, the brain, in essence, has been trained to "inform" the addict that
continued drug abuse is the quickest and the most efficient way for him or her to "feel good."
When an addict suddenly quits taking the drugs to which he or she is addicted, the brain sends "messages" to
the addict, letting him or her know that something is not right and needs to be fixed.
In essence, the "messages" that the brain sends to the drug dependent person are the painful, hazardous, and
potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms that the addict experiences when the brain does not receive its chemical
The Brain, and Tolerance, and Withdrawal Symptoms
With habitual drug abuse, the brain slowly but surely adjusts to the drugs so that "normal" operations are
When a person who has manifested a pattern of continuous and heavy abuse, nonetheless, abruptly stops taking the
drugs upon which he or she is dependent, he or she typically suffers from withdrawal symptoms that can be so
extensive that they can take the body days or even weeks before it once again functions in a "normal" manner.
Basically, then, withdrawal symptoms are responses by the body and especially by the brain to the nonexistence
of the drug or drugs upon which they had become dependent.
This not only clarifies how physical tolerance starts and continues but it also helps one understand why
increasing amounts of the specific drug in question are required for the person to feel the same "buzz" or "high"
with regular use.
Drug withdrawal symptoms can be mild or moderate, and in a minority of cases, they can be excessive. The main
influences that determine the seriousness of the withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- The health of the person (is the individual in fairly good health or is he or she sickly?)
- How strong the craving is for the drug (for example, is the craving relatively mild or is it extreme?)
- The type of drug that was abused (e.g., withdrawals from methadone are usually more painful and more
excessive than withdrawals from heroin).
- The quality or "purity" of the drug (has the drug been "cut" with cleanser or rat poison or is it in its
- The amount of the drug that was abused (for example, did the heroin abuser take 3 bags or 5 bags for his or
- The frequency of the drug abuse (for instance, did the individual abuse the drug every 2 hours, every 3
days, twice per week, etc).
- How long the addict has been abusing the particular drug (for instance, has the abuse been going on for
years or is it relatively recent?)
Withdrawal Symptoms for 25 "Street" Drugs
An evaluation was undertaken regarding the withdrawal symptoms for twenty-five well-known "street" drugs. The
following drugs (including alcohol) were included in this analysis:
Withdrawal Symptoms For "Common" Drugs
The most occurring withdrawal symptoms in order of most occurring to lease occurring regarding the above 25
"common" drugs were the following:
- Intense craving
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Muscle pain
- Disturbed sleep
It is apparent that quitting most drugs, including alcohol, to which a person has become addicted results in
unpleasant, hurtful, and repulsive withdrawal symptoms.
Consequently, freeing oneself from dependence on alcohol or drugs is, in the vast majority of instances, an
especially difficult undertaking.
In fact, according to the research literature, most drug abusers relapse within six months of achieving
This statistic, among other things, highlights the need all addicts have for getting quality, professional
medical treatment if they are to have any hope for long-lasting, successful recovery.
Since drug withdrawal symptoms can be agonizing, unsafe, and all too often, deadly, the first concern a person
needs to consider when suffering from withdrawal symptoms should be who he or she should contact about the
withdrawals he or she is going through.
In short, when drug dependent individuals are experiencing drug withdrawal symptoms, they should always see
their healthcare professional or doctor right away so that he or she can evaluate the severity of the addict's
situation and recommend the most effective and productive treatment protocol.