Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Table of Contents


The symptoms of drug withdrawal may vary depending on the specific substance and the individual. The side effects of drug withdrawal are a physical and psychological response from a system that is dependent on addictive substances.

Common signs of withdrawal may include physical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sweating, tremors, and muscle aches. 

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Psychological substance abuse withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, irritability, and insomnia are also common. Cravings for the drug and changes in appetite or weight may occur. In severe cases, withdrawals from drugs can lead to seizures or life-threatening complications. It is vital to seek medical supervision during drug withdrawal to ensure safety and receive appropriate support and treatment.

This guide highlights the following issues:

  • What is drug withdrawal?
  • What are the side effects of drug withdrawal?
  • What are the most common substance abuse withdrawal symptoms?
  • Going through withdrawal symptoms safely and comfortably.
  • How to connect with drug detox and addiction treatment in Southern California.

Signs of Drug Withdrawal

The first stage of addiction withdrawal is characterized by a drug comedown, where the initial effects of the substance diminish, and the brain’s chemistry slowly returns to its normal state. If an individual refrains from taking further doses of the drug after the comedown, drug detox symptoms will present.

 During the early phase of drug withdrawal, several signs of detoxing from drugs begin to manifest. These signs can vary depending on the substance involved, but commonly observed initial withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety and restlessness: A heightened sense of unease and an inability to relax or find calmness.
  • Irritability and agitation: Feeling easily annoyed or provoked, accompanied by a sense of restlessness or agitation.
  • Sweating: Increased perspiration, which may be more noticeable than usual.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Experiencing an upset stomach, possibly leading to vomiting or feelings of queasiness.
  • Muscle aches and pains: Soreness and discomfort in the muscles, often resembling flu-like symptoms.
  • Insomnia or disturbed sleep patterns: Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing poor sleep quality.
  • Changes in appetite: Altered eating patterns, such as increased or decreased appetite.
  • Headaches: Frequent or persistent headaches, which can range from mild to severe.
  • Mood changes: Fluctuations in mood, including feelings of depression, sadness, or irritability.
  • Fatigue and lack of energy: Persistent tiredness, low energy levels, and a general sense of lethargy.

The severity and duration of addiction withdrawal symptoms may vary based on individual factors, including the specific drug used, the duration of use, and the person’s overall health. If you or someone you know is experiencing withdrawals from drugs, it is always advisable to seek professional help and support.

someone learning about the symptoms of drug withdrawal

Symptoms of Drug Withdrawal

Drug addiction withdrawal symptoms encompass a range of physical and psychological effects that occur when discontinuing drug use abruptly. These symptoms can vary depending on the substance and individual, but here are some common examples:

Common physical symptoms:

  • Drug cravings
  • Excessive sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors
  • Aches and pains
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Flu-like symptoms

Common psychological symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of motivation
  • Impaired concentration
  • Racing thoughts
  • Heightened emotions
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Impaired cognitive ability

Dangerous symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Severe confusion
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Hallucinations 
  • Psychosis
  • DTs (delirium tremens)
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Coma
  • Death

 Drug withdrawal symptoms may vary in nature and severity, influenced by several factors: 

  • Duration of addiction: The length of time you have been addicted to the drug can affect the intensity and duration of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Type of drug: Different drugs can cause varying withdrawal symptoms. For example, opioids may lead to flu-like symptoms, while benzodiazepines may trigger anxiety and seizures.
  • Dosage: The amount of drug you have been taking can impact the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Higher doses often result in more intense withdrawals.
  • Method of drug use: The route of administration can influence the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Methods like snorting, smoking, or injecting drugs can lead to more acute withdrawal symptoms than oral consumption.
  • Polysubstance use: Taking multiple types of drugs concurrently can complicate withdrawal symptoms and make them more challenging to manage.
  • Family history and genetics: Genetic factors and a family history of substance abuse can contribute to the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Physical and mental health: Your overall health can impact how your body responds to withdrawal. Underlying physical or mental health conditions may influence the withdrawal process.

Engaging with a supervised medical detox can help ensure the safe management of drug withdrawal symptoms. Following detoxification, a personalized drug rehabilitation program is highly recommended to reduce the risk of relapse and promote long-term recovery.

Treatments for Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Treatment for drug withdrawal symptoms typically involves a combination of medications, clinical or psychological care, and a smooth transition into ongoing treatment. Here are some common approaches:

  • Medications: Certain medications can help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with specific drugs. For example, methadone or buprenorphine can be used to ease opioid withdrawal, while medications like benzodiazepines or anticonvulsants may be prescribed for alcohol or sedative withdrawal. These medications are usually administered under medical supervision.
  • Clinical or psychological care: This involves providing emotional support and counseling to individuals going through drug withdrawal. Therapeutic interventions like CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) can help individuals understand and cope with the underlying factors contributing to their substance use, develop healthier coping mechanisms, and prevent relapse.
  • Inpatient or outpatient detoxification programs: Depending on the severity of withdrawal symptoms and the individual’s specific needs, they may undergo detoxification in either an inpatient or outpatient setting. Inpatient programs provide continuous medical care and support, while outpatient detox programs offer more flexibility, allowing individuals to receive treatment while living at home.
  • Supportive services: Additional support services, such as group therapy and support groups (12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, or non-12-step programs like SMART Recovery) can be valuable in maintaining sobriety and providing ongoing encouragement and guidance.
  • Long-term treatment planning: After successfully managing the acute withdrawal phase of drug detox, it is essential to develop a comprehensive long-term treatment plan. This may involve continuing with outpatient therapy, entering residential or intensive outpatient treatment programs, or exploring other forms of ongoing support, such as sober living environments or aftercare programs.
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Begin Recovery from Drug Addiction at California Detox

California Detox in Laguna Beach offers a range of treatment programs for individuals with physical dependence or addiction to prescription medications, alcohol, or illicit drugs. Our supervised medical detox program provides a smooth pathway to inpatient or outpatient rehab, utilizing medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings. After detox, you can transition into our Inpatient program (residential rehab), and utilize our referral services to find continuing care such as outpatient programs and sober living. 

At California Detox, we provide personalized treatment that combines evidence-based interventions and holistic therapies for a comprehensive approach to addiction recovery. These include:

  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Group counseling
  • Individual counseling
  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy

 Upon completing your treatment program, we offer aftercare planning to support your transition back to daily life and help prevent relapse. For immediate assistance, please call admissions at 949.694.8305.


Drug withdrawal refers to the physical and psychological symptoms that occur when a person stops or reduces their use of a drug they have become dependent on. It is a natural response of the body as it adjusts to the absence of the substance.
The side effects of drug withdrawal can vary depending on the specific drug involved and the individual’s physiology. However, common side effects may include physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, tremors, and muscle aches. Common psychological symptoms associated with drug withdrawal include anxiety, depression, irritability, and insomnia. In severe cases, withdrawal from certain drugs can lead to seizures or life-threatening complications.


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