Dealing With the Physical and Mental Symptoms of Drug Withdrawal

May 7th 2016

Physical Symptoms

If you're undergoing drug withdrawal, you may experience nausea and vomiting, as well as excessive sweating or hot flashes. Some people also develop the shakes, and many experience an increased sensitivity to pain. Insomnia and headaches are also common physical symptoms, as are flu-like symptoms including systemic weakness and overall body aches. Some people develop intense abdominal pain, and some even experience heart palpitations, difficulty breathing and seizures. Because drug withdrawal symptoms can themselves become fatal, if you are experiencing extreme symptoms, you should seek emergency medical treatment immediately.

Mental and Emotional Symptoms

The flood of chemicals through the brain during drug withdrawal often causes the person undergoing withdrawal to feel anxious, restless and irritable. You may find it difficult to concentrate on anything. Your emotional state, whatever it is, tends to become heightened during withdrawal, so a slight worry becomes extreme anxiety, or a little bit of sadness becomes an intense depression. Many people also tend to pull away from others during withdrawal, while some find themselves pushing relationship boundaries, as if daring others to abandon them when they need help.

Deal with Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Relapse is most likely to occur when you let your emotions run rampant, even if you are not initially thinking of using the drug again. Many people find that exercise, including meditative practices such as yoga, helps the brain to become centered again and defeat the wild emotions that come with withdrawal.

Another helpful strategy is to wait for 30 minutes, using the time to distract yourself. Many mental and emotional urges toward relapse have a physical basis, and that small amount of time may be long enough to let the cravings dissipate on their own.

One of the most helpful strategies for dealing with drug withdrawal is to surround yourself with a support system of friends or family members who are committed to seeing you through your the process. Calling someone to report that you're having urges to use the drug again not only provides you with support from someone who understands, but it can also minimize the hold the craving has over you.


Withdrawal symptoms occur because the brain reacts to the removal of drugs by creating a surge of adrenaline and other responses that cause reactions throughout the body. Withdrawal symptoms may begin within a few hours of ceasing the drug and may last for up to several days. A person trying to free himself from dependence on or addiction to a drug may find the symptoms of withdrawal so overwhelming that he relapses and resumes taking the drugs. Here are some of the typical symptoms and guidelines for dealing with them.

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