The Most Common Withdrawal Symptoms

addiction withdrawal treatment in ct

Lethargy. Night sweats. Restlessness. Nausea. Irritability. Depression. Delirium. Anxiety. Confusion. Slowness. Seizures. Trembling. Muscle aches. Drug cravings. These are just some of the many symptoms associated with withdrawal from drugs.

If you regularly use drugs and alcohol, and have used them for some time, it is highly likely that your body is now dependent on a substance of choice. That may be why you are here. You have too many mornings where you wake up and feel like you can’t face the day, that your body cannot move without another hit, sip, or bump of that drug. There are times when not only does your head hurt, but your brain hurts just from thinking about getting by without getting high. This is known as withdrawal. This is your body trying to re-learn how to function without drugs. This is your body’s first step at overcoming addiction.

You see, your body has become used to having drugs each day. Drugs are chemicals that physically alter the brain structure, re-wiring parts dedicated to emotion, decision-making, and self-control. Drugs also impact how the rest of your body, such as your central nervous system, works. Even if you desire to stop using, your brain and body may continue to demand the drug. They need time to adjust without it.

If you want to quit drugs, but are afraid of what might follow, you are not alone. As a young adult drug treatment provider, Turnbridge knows a lot about withdrawal from drugs. And we can tell you that most often, the anticipation of the withdrawal is worse than the actual thing. You will get through this, and the right clinical drug treatment center can help.

What Withdrawal Symptoms Can You Expect?

Every drug is different, each coming with their own unique stretch of withdrawal symptoms. Some hard drugs, such as heroin or prescription painkillers, will be followed by harsh withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, body aches, and cold sweats. Other drugs, such as marijuana or cocaine, will bring about more emotional symptoms like depression and irritability. Depending on your drug of choice as well as your history of using, the length and severity of withdrawal symptoms will also vary. Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, and can span from mild to uncomfortable to chronic and life-threatening. Your medical history, mental health, age and genetic makeup will also come into play – no two people experience withdrawal from drugs the same way.

To put into perspective, someone who has regularly injected large doses of heroin for years, who has a family history of substance use and mental health issues, is likely to experience a prolonged withdrawal period and more powerful symptoms than someone who does not have a family history of co-occurring disorders and who used smaller doses for a shorter period of time.

Below Turnbridge details the some of the drug-specific withdrawal symptoms and their average timeframe:

Heroin Withdrawal:

Heroin is a highly-addictive opiate drug with a short half-life – meaning its effects are hard and typically come on fast. Opiate withdrawal from heroin typically begins within 12 hours of your last dose and reaches its peak within 24 to 48 hours. Heroin withdrawal can last a week or up to a few months, depending on the amount you were taking, how long you’ve been taking it, and the method in which you administered the drug. Heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Flu-like Symptoms
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle Aches and Spasms
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Shakiness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

Prescription Opioid Withdrawal:

Prescription opioids, while legal when used medically, are among the most addictive drugs today. If you have been using prescriptions like OxyContin or Vicodin longer than intended (or prescribed), your body has likely developed a tolerance to the drug. Typically, users start to experience withdrawal symptoms just 8 to 12 hours after taking that last painkiller pill. The most excruciating symptoms peak between 12 to 48 hours, and lasts up to 10 days. Common opioid withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Flu-Like Symptoms, such as Fever
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Restlessness
  • Shakiness and Chills
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic Muscle Tension
  • Diarrhea
  • Repeated Hot/Cold Sweats
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Blurred Vision
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Depression
  • Agitation

Cocaine Withdrawal:

Cocaine is a fast-acting stimulant drug, and expectedly, its withdrawal symptoms also come on quick. If you use cocaine regularly, you likely know the “ups and downs” well. Just hours after stopping the drug, the “crash” or withdrawal symptoms start. That is why so many users will go on a cocaine binge – the high comes quick, leaves the body quick, and you make every effort to keep it going. If you don’t, the withdrawal symptoms will hit. They peak within a few days and can last up to 10 weeks. If you are addicted to cocaine and these behaviors sound familiar, you can expect withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety or Paranoia
  • Chills
  • Fatigue and Exhaustion
  • Inability to Feel Pleasure
  • Tremors
  • Slowed Activity
  • Nightmares
  • Muscle Aches
  • Slower Thinking
  • Restlessness
  • Nerve Pain

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal:

Often called “benzos” and taken in the form of brands like Xanax and Ativan, these prescription drugs are designed to treat anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, and seizures. Many people, however, use them nonmedically as relaxants. The problem is, benzos are highly addictive. When the body becomes dependent on the drug, and then hits the withdrawal stage, users experience reversed effects: anxiety, panic attacks, disturbed sleep. These symptoms typically begin within 1 to 4 days of stopping the drug. In some cases, experts say, the withdrawal period from benzos can last months or years without treatment. Common benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Panic Attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Tension
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Irregular Heartbeat
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Headache and Muscle Aches
  • Disturbed Sleep
  • Hypertension

Alcohol Withdrawal:

One in every 12 adults struggles with alcoholism. If you’ve drank alcohol before, you likely know what a hangover entails. However, if you are dependent on alcohol – you engage in heavy or excessive drinking, drink throughout the day and every day, and cannot stay sober for long – the withdrawal symptoms will be much more excruciating than your average morning-after. Once eliminating alcohol from your day-to-day, you can expect to experience some form of alcohol withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness and Shakiness
  • Mood Swings
  • Insomnia
  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Irritability
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Depression
  • Headache and Muscle Aches
  • Dehydration
  • Nightmares
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Shallow Breathing
  • Clammy Skin
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble Thinking Clearly
  • Tremors


3 to 5 percent of alcoholics will also experience delirium tremens, which can be fatal if left unaddressed. If you have just quit alcohol and are experiencing seizures, a fever, severe confusion, hallucinations, and delirium, contact your medical provider as soon as possible for help.

Marijuana Withdrawal:

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit substance among adolescents and young adults. What many do not know, however, is that it also has the potential for addiction and for a withdrawal stage. This is especially true for frequent or daily smokers. According to the NIDA, one in six teens who try pot will get addicted, but 50 percent of teens (one in every two!) who use marijuana daily will get addicted.

Teens who are addicted and stop smoking marijuana suddenly will experience at least one of the following withdrawal symptoms. Those who experience withdrawal symptoms without seeking medical help are more likely than other users to have problems at school, at work, or trouble with relationships and money. Marijuana withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Stomach Discomfort
  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Depression
  • Fever and Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness

To overcome addiction and the stages of withdrawal, it is important to properly detox under medical supervision. It is also vital to enroll in an integrated, long-term drug treatment program, where you will learn how to properly cope and manage withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings in recovery. You do not have to go through this alone. Turnbridge is a young adult drug rehab offering 24/7 watchful care to young men and women facing addiction. We extend both residential and outpatient treatment services to you or your loved one in need.  Contact us at 877-581-1793 to learn more.

If you have unbearable withdrawal symptoms or have been experiencing symptoms for a long period of time (post-acute withdrawal syndrome), please contact Turnbridge or your medical provider immediately.