Drug Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline & Detox Treatment

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Drug withdrawal symptoms can be painful, uncomfortable, and distressing — especially for those who have decided to quit using drugs after a long period of use. Sometimes, drug withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that people put off seeking treatment just so they can avoid going through withdrawal. However, the drug detox treatments available today can reduce and eliminate many withdrawal symptoms to help people experience a more comfortable, successful, and long-lasting recovery.

If you’re ready to receive drug detox to recover from drug dependence and addiction, it helps to know what to expect in terms of withdrawal so you can be mentally and physically prepared.

What Causes Drug Withdrawal Symptoms?

Drug withdrawal symptoms only occur when someone who is physically dependent on drugs abruptly stops using them. Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s way of responding to the absence of a drug after it’s adapted to the drug and come to rely on its presence.

Physical drug dependence always begins with tolerance. When a person uses drugs regularly, their body eventually stops responding to the usual amount being used. Tolerance occurs when a person needs to use higher amounts of a drug in order to feel its desired effects.

Drug dependence is mainly characterized by the onset of withdrawal symptoms when a person suddenly stops using the drugs on which they’ve become dependent. These individuals become “dependent” on the drug in that they need it to function and perform daily activities without getting sick. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it’s possible to be physically dependent on drugs without being psychologically addicted, though the two often go hand in hand.

What Are Common Drug Withdrawal Symptoms?

Drug withdrawal symptoms will be different for everyone based on factors such as the type of drug being used, the severity of the addiction, and the person’s unique health condition and biological makeup. Some people may only experience physical symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, while others may also experience psychological symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, and depression.

Here are common withdrawal symptoms by drug type:

Opioids (Heroin, Fentanyl, Painkillers)

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Tearing eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea

Stimulants (Cocaine, Methamphetamine)

  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased sleeping
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Muscle aches
  • Slowing of activity


  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Stomach pain
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Night sweats
  • Shaking

Prescription Sedatives (Benzodiazepines, Barbiturates)

  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Muscle aches

Is There a Way to Avoid or Minimize Drug Withdrawal Symptoms?

Stopping drugs abruptly will often lead to the onset of withdrawal symptoms unless you receive medical detox at a drug rehab center. Drug detox at Dana Point Rehab Campus takes place in a safe, relaxing environment where highly trained clinical staff can treat your symptoms throughout the withdrawal period. In many instances, medications are used to reduce, relieve, and eliminate your withdrawal symptoms.

Some drugs are dangerous to quit abruptly, such as benzodiazepines. Those who are dependent on these and other sedatives are usually put on a tapering schedule where dosages are gradually reduced every day to minimize withdrawal symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, withdrawing from benzodiazepines can take anywhere between two to eight weeks, though this detox and withdrawal method is the safest way to manage and minimize symptoms.

Where to Find Safe Drug Detox Treatments

Drug rehab centers operated by Dana Point Rehab Campus offer drug detox treatments in a safe and therapeutic rehab environment where patients can relax as they recover from drug dependence. Contact us today at 949.569.7517 to learn more about our detox and inpatient residential rehab programs for drug dependence and addiction.