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Detoxification, also referred to as detox, is the process that rids one’s body of foreign substances. Any person that has habitually abused drugs and/ or alcohol has likely developed a tolerance to the abused substance or substances. When a drug tolerance is built, one’s body begins to rely on the substance to function. When the body lacks the previously abused substance, it will react accordingly, and withdrawal symptoms will ensue. Withdrawal symptoms are adverse symptoms that occur because of ceasing the use of a substance with which one’s body has become accustomed. An individual’s detox experience will depend on a variety of contributing factors. These can include one’s personal health history, the type of substance abused, the potency of the substance, the frequency of abuse, the length of time the individual abused the substance, if he or she simultaneously abused other substances, and the presence of any co-morbid disorders will all factor into one’s detox experience and associated withdrawal symptoms. Below are examples of withdrawal symptoms specifically related to the following substances, respectively:

  • Alcohol: vomiting, sweating, headaches, nausea, anxiety, hand tremors, confusion, restlessness, insomnia, loss of appetite, rapid heart rate
  • Benzodiazepine: heart palpitations, shaking, irritability, sleep disturbances, dry heaving, nausea, anxiety, sweating, muscle pain, headache, panic attacks, elevated blood pressure, agitation, difficulty concentrating, muscle stiffness
  • Opiates: diarrhea, vomiting, watery eyes, nausea, sweating, chills, muscle pain, excessive yawning, insomnia, anxiety, depression, stomach cramping
  • Adderall: muscle aches, stomach cramping, fatigue, mood swings, nausea, depression, headache, vomiting, malaise, difficulty concentrating, suicidal ideations, memory impairment
  • Marijuana: nausea, insomnia, agitation, stomach pain, decreased appetite, nightmares, irritability, restlessness, aggression, headache, tremors, extreme nervousness

As is evident from the examples above, although each substance has its own set of withdrawal symptoms, there are some symptoms that are common to most drugs and alcohol. The five most common symptoms of withdrawal include:

  1. Gastrointestinal (GI) complications: GI symptoms are caused by the way the digestive system responds to the lack of substances, and may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and more. 
  2. Sleep disturbances (e.g., excessive sleep or insomnia): withdrawal from stimulants, for example, may cause you to sleep more than usual or struggle to stay alert. Whereas withdrawal from opiates and benzodiazepines can cause sleeplessness. The effects of a drug are often reversed in withdrawal because the body became accustomed to compensating for the drug.
  3. Physical pain: muscle, joint, and/ or bone pain is a particularly common when withdrawing from opiates, alcohol, benzodiazepines, and/ or methamphetamine. 
  4. Psychological symptoms: are the impacts that drug withdrawal has on mood, wellbeing, and mental health, and may linger long after the physical signs of drug withdrawal have passed. Much like agitation and frustration are common responses to the lack of substances, anxiety, paranoia, irritability, nervousness, and depression are frequently seen. 
  5. Cognitive impairment: habitual substance abuse interferes with cognition which subsequently complicates the process of regaining regular cognitive abilities after ceasing use of an abused substance. Confusion, disorientation, difficulties concentrating, and a slowed thought process are all examples of common cognitive withdrawal symptoms.

There are a variety of contributing factors that can affect the severity of withdrawal symptoms, the duration of withdrawal symptoms experienced, as well as which withdrawal symptoms manifest. Drug withdrawal encompasses both physical and emotional symptoms and will differ from person to person.

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com

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