Symptoms of Drug Withdrawal

Posted by Care Addiction Center on May 25th, 2022

It is not uncommon for fear of withdrawal to prevent people from quitting. On the other hand, continued drug use can result in far more serious consequences.

When an individual starts using a drug, the introduction of dopamine creates this feel-good effect, which the human body gets accustomed to. When individuals stop using the substance, they no longer feel good - which causes them to use it again.

People experience withdrawal symptoms when they abruptly stop using a drug after using it for a long period of time.

Understanding the symptoms of drug withdrawal and what to expect during the process can help alleviate withdrawal fears.

Individuals will experience different symptoms depending on the medication they are withdrawing from.According to NIH (National Institutes of Health) 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. An opioid binds to the opioid receptors in the brain, blocking pain and producing a sense of calm. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal:

  • 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. By slowing down brain-to-body messages, they calm the body. Common benzodiazepines include Xanax, Valium, Klonopin and Ativan. Symptoms of Benzodiazepine withdrawal:

  • 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. Stimulants increase the activity of the brain chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical released by the brain that increases pleasure and encourages us to perform simple tasks such as eating. Norepinephrine affects blood vessels, blood pressure, and heart rate, as well as blood sugar levels and breathing. Symptoms of stimulant withdrawal:

  • 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.

If you or a loved one need help for a drug addiction and want to know more about treatment programs in Illinois, feel free to contact us at: 630-402-0144

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Care Addiction Center
Joined: October 14th, 2020
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