Why Are Drug and Alcohol Withdrawals So Terrible?

Very few people have been able to avoid weathering a withdrawal after the long-term use of drugs or alcohol. Some people have had to sit up through long nights and days, unable to sleep, nauseous and dry heaving, crawling to the bathroom with diarrhea, sweating, dealing with heart palpitations, shaking and trembling, and just generally feeling lousy.

Why Do I Do This To Myself?

Then there are other symptoms like depression, anxiety, headaches, the not eating for days, or snapping at anyone unlucky enough to be around. Probably the only question to be asked during those painful times is, “why do I do this to myself?”

Few people really know what their body is going through when they’re going through withdrawal, from a medical and scientific point of view that is. Here’s a quick look at the physiological and psychological symptoms stemming from withdrawal.

Factors and Causes of Withdrawal Symptoms

In order to have withdrawal symptoms, a person must first have developed a physical or a mental dependence on drugs or alcohol. Different substances will produce different symptoms, though some symptoms are common to all.

In general though, the intensity and duration of withdrawal symptoms will depend on these factors:

  • The kind of substance being used
  • The amount, or dosage, of that substance
  • Length or duration of use
  • How it’s been used (orally or intravenously)
  • Individual biological makeup


When someone suddenly stops using a substance, the release of neurotransmitters, plus a rush of adrenalin, causes much of the misery of withdrawal. And, the central nervous system and other vital organs have gotten used to daily use, so they will scream of disapproval at the lack of the substance.

It should be noted that withdrawing from some drugs can be extremely dangerous. Alcohol and any kind of tranquilizers are the most dangerous substances to withdraw from. If you’re physically addicted to those, suddenly stopping can cause strokes and heart attacks, seizures, DT’s (Delirium Tremens), hallucinations, and death.

It may sound counterintuitive, but withdrawing from drugs like heroin and oxycontin, although still painful, is not life threatening. With less addictive drugs, like marijuana and cocaine, the withdrawals symptoms are more emotional than physical, these may include depression, restlessness, and irritability.

Getting Through Withdrawals

If you or someone you know has decided to quit using a substance, there are several things that can help with the withdrawal process. Plenty of liquids are needed, as your body will be dehydrated. Good nutrition is also necessary to replace needed vitamins and minerals along with plenty of rest. A qualified detoxification center can provide a comprehensive detoxification plan to ensure good health and wellbeing throughout the process.

If you or someone you know has decided that enough is enough, and want to leave behind the cycle of drug and alcohol withdrawals behind, contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.


No author, Opiate withdrawal, MedLine U.S. National Library of Medicine , 09 April 2015, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000949.htm
No author, Signs and Symptoms, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc., No date, https://ncadd.org/learn-about-drugs/signs-and-symptoms
Jennifer Robinson, Alcohol Withdrawal, WebMD February 16, 2015, http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/alcohol-withdrawal-symptoms-treatments

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