How to Deal with Withdrawals

Educate yourself on the stages of drug withdrawal before beginning detox. 

With drug detox being the first part step towards recovery, it is crucial for an addict to be aware of potential withdrawal symptoms and how to deal with withdrawals. Detox in itself will not solely cure drug addiction, no matter what type of substance was being abused. It is to rid the body of the offending substance in order to bring balance to the mind and body. From this point on, generally the next step is to take part in a therapy program and build a support network. The safest way to detox and successfully endure all stages of drug withdrawal is with the help of a licensed or certified medical detox and rehab facility. While in a rehab center, anyone undergoing medical detox will be overseen by trained medical staff and physicians who will be able to administer medication to help with withdrawal side effects.

The Acute Withdrawal Stage

If you or a loved one is about to enter into a medical detox and rehab facility, you might be curious about the stages of drug withdrawal and how to deal with withdrawals. The first stage of drug detox is known as the acute stage. Symptoms of this stage, which can range from mild to intense, can begin within several hours from the last dose of the substance. The severity of symptoms have a lot to do with what type of substance has been abused, the amount typically taken, and how long the substance has been used for. Also, some drugs can cause more intense withdrawal symptoms than others, including alcohol, opioids and benzodiazepines.


Acute Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

While in the acute drug withdrawal stage, a patient may feel agitated, experience insomnia, extreme sweating, aches and pains, anxious, and may have changes in his or her heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Nausea, stomach pain and vomiting may occur as well, depending on what drug is being withdrawn. More severe side effects can include tremors, seizures, hallucinations, strokes and heart attack.

Some withdrawal symptoms can be severe enough that the individual resorts to using the drug again in order to cease symptoms (therefore having an unsuccessful detox). If this concerns you and you are curious about how to deal with withdrawals, you should consider a brief stay in a detox rehab center. The acute stage of drug withdrawal can last anywhere from two to ten days. During this time, you will be cared for by trained and experienced drug withdrawal professionals, including doctors, nurses and other staff members. Medications may be used to combat some of the side effects you experience during detox.


The Post-Acute Withdrawal Stage

The next stage of drug withdrawal is known as PAWS, or the post-acute withdrawal stage. While physical symptoms typically subside during this stage, emotional and psychological symptoms can occur. This happens because your brain chemistry is attempting to return to normal. Symptoms you can experiences during this stage include:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Mood swings
  3. Fatigue
  4. Lack of concentration
  5. Irritability
  6. Depression
  7. Low energy
  8. Insomnia


Most individuals will experience episodes of symptoms, with each episode becoming shorter in duration. The most difficult part of the post-acute withdrawal stage for addicts is the time frame. Detox and withdrawal isn’t a quick and easy process. The PAWS stage can last up to a year or more depending on the drug abused. For instance, if you were addicted to opiates, you may wonder how long do opiate withdrawal symptoms last. Most patients detoxing from opioids experience emotional symptoms continually for several months after the acute stage of detox.

Recovery is just a phone call away. Call 1-800-429-7690 for more information on treatment options.