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Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal
Withdrawal is a reaction that happens after drugs or alcohol are stopped.
Withdrawal can be very serious and lead to death.
Constant misuse changes how your body works. Once you stop, your body needs a chance to get back to normal. During this time, your body can't work as it should. This leads to withdrawal. It can be severe when the stop is sudden.
Your chances of withdrawal are higher for:
Withdrawal will start after use is stopped. This can be with a few hours to a few days. The types of problems depend on the substances and the length of misuse. The most common are:
- Tremors or shaking
- Fast heartbeat— tachycardia
- Problems thinking or understanding
- Changes in hunger patterns
- Feeling weak
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sleeping problems
- Drug craving
- Hallucinations—seeing or hearing things that aren't there
|Anxiety is a symptom of drug withdrawal from substances like cocaine and alcohol.|
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You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. You may have:
- A physical exam
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
Detox with help from healthcare is safer than doing it on your own. Having care will help with:
Watching and helping with problems such as:
- Changes in your mental state
- Delirium tremens
- Supportive care to ease symptoms
How you're treated depends on what you need such as:
- Vitamins and nutrients
- Fluids—for dehydration
- A quiet, healthy place to get better
- An electro auricular device—gives small electrical pulses to ear to help control opioid withdrawal symptoms
Medicines are used to:
- Ease cravings and other withdrawal symptoms
- Control depression, anxiety, and balance your mood
- Prevent seizures
Opioid and benzodiazepine withdrawal may be helped with:
- Good sleep habits
Detox is the first step in getting help. Later steps involve therapy or group therapy . They can help you stay away from harmful habits.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
Toronto Area of Narcotics Anonymous
Alcohol withdrawal syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114807/Alcohol-withdrawal-syndrome . Updated January 17, 2017. Accessed August 21, 2018.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114807/Alcohol-withdrawal-syndrome . Updated July 18, 2018. Accessed August 21, 2018.
Cannabis use. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T912430/Cannabis-use . Updated April 27, 2018. Accessed August 21, 2018.
Cocaine toxicity—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T910330/Cocaine-toxicity-emergency-management . Accessed August 21, 2018.
Drugs, brains, and behavior: The science of addiction National Institute for Drug Abuse website. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/preface. Updated July 2018. Accessed August 21, 2018.
Opioid abuse and dependence. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T219069/Opioid-abuse-and-dependence . Updated June 14, 2018. Accessed August 21, 2018.
Opioid withdrawal. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115893/Opioid-withdrawal . Updated November 17, 2018. Accessed August 21, 2018.
Principles of drug addiction treatment: a research based guide. National Institute of Drug Abuse website. Available at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment. Updated December 2012. Accessed August 21, 2018.
Sedative-hypnotic overdose. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114858/Sedative-hypnotic-overdose . Updated July 21, 2017. Accessed August 21, 2018.
Treatment approaches for drug addiction. National Institute for Drug Abuse website. Available at: https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction. Updated January 2018. Accessed August 21, 2018.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
- Review Date: 05/2018
- Update Date: 08/21/2018