Home Withdrawal Timelines Treatments What Are the Dangers of Withdrawal?

Call Us Now for a FREE Consultation Today! (877) 659-4555

Dangers of withdrawal

The dictionary defines withdrawal as, “the syndrome of often painful physical and psychological symptoms that follow discontinuance of an addicting drug”. With regular intake of substances like alcohol and drugs, your body develops a tolerance to it. By this, we mean that these substances become a part of the normal functioning of your body. They alter the chemical functions in your brain in such a manner that your body wouldn’t be able to function without the presence of these drugs. On quitting these drugs or alcohol, an individual is bound to experience certain withdrawal symptoms which are the body’s way of expressing severe cravings. Now as research shows, there are two kinds of withdrawal symptoms – acute and protracted symptoms. Let’s take a look at each.

Acute and protracted withdrawal symptoms

The symptoms that you encounter immediately after quitting the substance in question are acute withdrawal symptoms. The average timeline for each kind of substance is as follows:

  • Alcohol: 5 to 7 days
  • Benzodiazepines: 1 to 4 weeks
  • Cannabis: 5 days
  • Nicotine: 2 to 4 weeks
  • Opioids: 4 to 10 days
  • Methadone: 14 to 21 days
  • Stimulants: 1 to 2 weeks

Beyond this timeline, the symptoms encountered fall under the category of protracted withdrawal syndrome. These symptoms are usually long term and take longer to leave.

Acute withdrawal

The acute symptoms for different substances depend on a large number of factors – which includes the severity of the condition, the regularity of usage and the duration of the dependence on the drug. While there are some generic symptoms, these may vary from person to person.

Alcohol

  • Hyperactivity
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Increased and irregular heart beat
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens in extreme cases

Nicotine

  • Cravings
  • Irritability
  • Irrational rage
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

Benzodiazepines

  • Double and blurry vision
  • Headache
  • Body pains
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fever and chills
  • Loss of control over muscles
  • Restlessness
  • Hallucinations

Opioids

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Cannabis

  • Insomnia
  • Inability to feel hunger
  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Nightmares and strange dreams
  • Headache

Stimulants

  • Depression
  • Hypersomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Slow thoughts
  • Lethargy and slow movement

During this phase, the individual may be prescribed certain medication which can both control the withdrawal symptoms and reduce their extent. This might make the recovery process a tad bit more comfortable for the patient, and reduce the chances of a relapse.

Protracted withdrawal symptoms

The main reason why protracted withdrawal symptoms are dangerous is because they are long term and usually psychological. While your body was dependent on the substance, it secreted huge amounts of dopamine which led to the feeling of high or euphoria on consumption. With regular intake, your brain loses its ability to produce these chemicals (and thus the sensation) on its own. Thus, when you quit the substance, your body begins to crave for it. These symptoms are psychological because one might encounter severe anxiety, mood fluctuations, paranoia, agitation and even clinical depression. That is why it is recommended that you seek professional rehab. With medical supervision and counseling, it can be easier to get past the prolonged symptoms or even deal with them. Medication and therapy happen to be the only solutions to the protracted withdrawal symptoms which may continue for more than a year after you quit.

Dangers of withdrawal

Remember, sudden discontinuance of a substance you were dependent on can have deadly consequences. Medical supervision in some form is a must if you want to sail past the recovery process smoothly, without incident. Withdrawal symptoms (both kinds) can be impossible to deal with, without specialists to guide the way.