Drug withdrawal is a reaction the body can have if a person suddenly stops using drugs or alcohol. This can occur if the person has been using drugs or alcohol regularly. Depending on the type and amount of drug you were using, withdrawal can be a life-threatening condition.
Factors that increase your chances of drug withdrawal include:
Withdrawal symptoms are different based on what you used. Symptoms may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may recommend blood and urine tests.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include one or more of the following:
This is the first step in treating substance abuse. You will be closely checked for signs of withdrawal. You may be given medications to reduce cravings. Medications will also help to reduce withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe. Treatment is targeted to the specific symptoms and drugs used.
You may need to enroll in a rehabilitation program. This treatment uses behavioral therapy to prevent you from using drugs in the future. Behavioral therapy may include the following:
Residential Treatment (Therapeutic Communities)
Residential treatment is sometimes needed. The typical stay is 6-12 months. These facilities will help you learn how to live a drug-free life.
Support groups offer continued support for a drug- or alcohol-free life. Some support groups are Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and Alcoholics Anonymous.
To help reduce your chances of developing drug withdrawal, take the following steps:
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
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Last reviewed May 2013 by Igor Puzanov, MD; Brian Randall, MD