What To Expect During Withdrawal










Depending on the substance of choice, how recent the last use was, and how severely the substances were abused, withdrawal can vary in its intensity. On any scale, there will be some experience with withdrawal. Detox can start as early as a few hours after last use up to about 36. Typically, detox lasts for ten days to three weeks.


Drugs and alcohol live in the entire body once chemical dependency takes over. Physical withdrawal feels like the drugs and alcohol are being pulled out of every fiber of your being- because it is. Physical withdrawal differs from one drug to the next and for alcohol withdrawal. Some drugs like opiates and heroin have a specific syndrome of withdrawal which includes experiencing flu like symptoms and restless leg syndrome affectionately referred to as being “dope sick” and “kicking”, respectively. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome has its own symptoms as does benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, which can include dangerous seizures. Generally, you can expect:

  • Aches
  • Pains
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation or Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Convulsing, Shaking, or Seizures
  • Shivering
  • Restlessness
  • Fidgeting


The mental symptoms of withdrawal are what often causes people to relapse during the detox period. Cravings have become the body’s way of screaming emergency in it’s need for survival. Obsessive thinking, obsessive craving, and a preoccupation fixated on drugs and alcohol is common. Separating fact from fiction during mental withdrawal is hard for people to do as the euphoria and relief of the most recent using episode is only hours or days away. Mental symptoms of withdrawal can include:

  • Craving
  • Obsessing
  • Preoccupation
  • Manipulation
  • Stages of grief including bargaining
  • Screaming
  • Crying
  • Bribing
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis


Feelings have been repressed for many years under the protection of drugs and alcohol. As the brain begins to reset and filters through years of toxins, a wealth of emotions can come up. Emotional withdrawal symptoms will include:

  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fear


What happens spiritually during withdrawal is not commonly discussed. Having drugs and alcohol pulled from your body and enduring the wrenching symptoms of physical withdrawal as well as mental withdrawal is quite the spiritual experience. During those painful hours, people’s minds can travel to all kinds of existential lengths:

  • Wondering why
  • Contemplating the purpose of life
  • Debating the meaning of living
  • Questioning God
  • Getting angry at God
  • Making bargains with a higher power
  • Swearing to surrender

Detox should be done in a clinical environment where there are certified nurses on 24/7 to monitor symptoms of withdrawal, which can become quite dangerous. Lakehouse Recovery Center provides residential detox in addition to residential inpatient programs. For more information, call  877.762.3707.


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