What Does Drug Withdrawal Feel Like? (6 Symptoms & Impacts)

A person experiencing symptoms of drug withdrawal

So many have been inquiring what drug withdrawal feels like – a tricky question as the experience differs from individual to individual and depends on which substance is being used.

After conducting considerable research and interviewing addiction specialists, I could finally pinpoint the usual symptoms of withdrawal.

Here’s the relevant information you need to be aware of regarding drug withdrawal symptoms, including their duration and how they may be treated.

Quick Summary

  • The most common symptoms of withdrawal include physical and behavioral discomfort, gastrointestinal and sleep problems, or cognitive impairments.
  • Should you cease or cut back your drug use, you may experience various uncomfortable and dangerous withdrawal symptoms at once.
  • Drug withdrawal refers to the attempt to break the cycle of drug dependency or being unable to consume drugs due to any cause.

How Does Withdrawal Impact The Body?

A person in bed experiencing sleep problems

Withdrawal impacts the body by causing it to be violently ill and can cause various physical and psychological symptoms. 

Suppose one abruptly stops taking these substances (especially after long-term use), their body is thrown off balance resulting in experiencing withdrawal symptoms, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse [1].

Here are some examples of drug withdrawal syndromes:

  • Physical: Physical reactions can range from mild to severe and are caused by suddenly ceasing drug use. 
  • Behavioral: Behavioral consequences are evident in how people interact with those close to them. 
  • Gastrointestinal: When the human body is deprived of a substance, it can cause severe gastrointestinal distress. Loss of appetite is usually experienced, as well as nausea, stomach cramping, and even vomiting. 
  • Psychological: Drug withdrawal is not only physical but can also strongly affect your mental health state. Agitation or frustration are common responses without substances you may be used to taking; anxiety and nervousness often follow suit. 
  • Sleep Problems: The drug withdrawal process can be arduous, and difficulty sleeping is part of the package. 
  • Cognitive: During drug withdrawal, cognitive symptoms are inevitable. Drug addiction can make it difficult to think clearly and process information correctly while quitting drugs brings new challenges as you attempt to regain your normal mental capacities.

“Withdrawal occurs when a person has physical and psychological symptoms as a result of drastically decreasing or refraining from using significant amounts of alcohol or other drugs,”
Meghan Marcum, Psy. D., Chief Psychologist at A Mission for Michael

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

A woman vomiting in the toiletDepending on the type of drug, your experience with withdrawal symptoms will be different. Generally, these signs are a reversal of whatever effects you felt while taking it in the first place.

Thus, if there was stimulation when consuming the substance, tiredness may be expected during a medical drug detox, and vice versa.

Stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine are more likely to cause acute withdrawal symptoms that have psychological effects.

At the same time, alcohol, prescription drugs, and heroin can lead to a combination of physical and mental repercussions.

Common drug withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Sweating
  • Tearing eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Hot and cold flushes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Even though the above record comprises general withdrawal signs, the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) has distinguished specific symptoms specifically connected to regularly abused substances [2].

Also Read: Marijuana Withdrawal Symptoms

Here is a list of those commonly misused drugs and their individualized withdrawal symptoms:

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has reported that if you’re dealing with alcohol withdrawal, some acute alcohol withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

A man having joint pain as Opioid withdrawal symptom

Opioid drugs include oxycodone (OxyContin and Percocet), morphine, codeine, fentanyl, and tramadol.

The drug withdrawal symptoms experienced from these opioids can be intense; they may include:

  • Joint pain
  • Anxiety
  • Chills
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Weakness
  • Insomnia

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Heroin, a member of the opioid family, is one of the most hazardous substances due to its highly addictive nature.

Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal include:

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sleeplessness
  • Hot and cold flashes

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

A woman holding her head having difficulty concentrating

Commonly known as benzos, benzodiazepines are highly beneficial when treating health issues such as insomnia and anxiety.

However, if you’ve been using them for a while and decide to get off of them, your symptoms may vary in intensity – they can range from:

  • Anxiety
  • Apprehension
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Difficulty concentrating

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

While cocaine is often seen as a recreational drug, it can be classified as a stimulant and cause withdrawal symptoms if you become dependent.

The signs of cocaine withdrawal consist of the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Flat affect
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability

How Long Does the Withdrawal Period Last?

The withdrawal period may sometimes last for days, weeks, or even months. However, the duration of withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person, depending on the drug being abused and the severity and length of their substance use disorder.

For example, the painful physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can last up to one week, while opioid detox may take as long as two weeks or more.

Furthermore, the withdrawal period can change due to each drug’s unique staying power within your system.

Related Articles:

What Are Complications From Withdrawal?

A depressed woman sitting while holding her headComplications from withdrawal are common and can be dangerous if not monitored by a doctor or at home. These include seizures, delirium tremens, and dehydration that may result in death if left untreated.

Detoxing from substances like opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines can be potentially hazardous if attempted without professional medical assistance.

The withdrawal symptoms often become life-threatening when you try to handle it alone.

More severe symptoms, including but not limited to seizures, hallucinations, delirium, hypertension, and dehydration, can result in irreversible damage and even death. 


What Does It Feel Like To Go Into Withdrawal?

Going into withdrawal feels like a mix of physical, emotional, and mental anguish. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the substance abuse type.

What Are The Symptoms Of Detox?

The symptoms of detox include prolonged exhaustion, throbbing headaches, and aching muscles. Nausea, disorientation, and agitation could also be present, while acne or skin inflammation may arise due to our skin being a primary route of elimination for unwanted contaminants.

What Are Withdrawal Symptoms Produced By?

Withdrawal symptoms are produced by physical dependence on substance abuse. The body’s natural means of adjusting to the continuing presence of a specific substance is known as physiological adaptation. 

Do You Want To Prevent Severe Withdrawal Symptoms?

Quitting drugs can be daunting, as you may fear the potential withdrawal symptoms. But take comfort in knowing there are several ways to gain support, such as through medical detox or rehab centers.

After extensively researching the issue, I determined that detox drinks can manage withdrawal symptoms. Thus, I highly recommend looking at Clear Choice Rescue Cleanse for the best results.

This detox drink’s formula is specifically designed to trigger multiple procedures in your body that help filter out and eliminate toxins. This blend’s organic components use various methods to achieve optimum results.


  1. https://archives.nida.nih.gov/blog/post/tolerance-dependence-addiction-whats-difference
  2. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/commonly-used-drugs-charts

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