Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range in severity from mildly distressing to life-threatening. That’s why it’s important to seek professional help when you stop using any substance—whether legal or illegal.

At Detox ATL, in Atlanta, Georgia, we can help you find professional detox services to help you manage withdrawal symptoms safely. Contact us today to get started.

Drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range in severity from mildly distressing to life-threatening. That’s why it’s important to seek professional help when you stop using any substance—whether legal or illegal.

At Detox ATL, in Atlanta, Georgia, we can help you find professional detox services to help you manage withdrawal symptoms safely. Contact us today to get started.

What is Withdrawal?

Withdrawal is the period of having unpleasant physical and psychological reactions after you stop using drugs or alcohol. These unpleasant reactions are referred to as withdrawal symptoms. 

The severity and length of your symptoms depend on factors unique to you and your addiction, such as:

  • The type of drug(s) you use
  • Mixing more than one drug (polysubstance abuse)
  • Any prescription drugs that you take
  • Underlying mental health disorders
  • Length of your addiction
  • Amount of drugs or alcohol you consume
  • Age and body weight
  • Co-occurring medical issues

In addition, the way you choose to detox affects your withdrawal symptoms. For instance, quitting “cold turkey” without professional support often leads to more intense symptoms. This is because you don’t have access to resources that can help lessen the severity of withdrawal. [For more on specific symptoms, jump ahead to withdrawal symptom timelines].

Thus, it is important to get professional help from a drug and alcohol detox center if you are concerned about withdrawal. This can reduce your risk of medical complications resulting from your symptoms. Professional detox programs also hold you accountable for your newfound sobriety—which significantly reduces the chances of relapse in early recovery.

young man sits alone isolating during drug withdrawal

What is Withdrawal?

Withdrawal is the period of having unpleasant physical and psychological reactions after you stop using drugs or alcohol. These unpleasant reactions are referred to as withdrawal symptoms. 

The severity and length of your symptoms depend on factors unique to you and your addiction, such as:

  • The type of drug(s) you use
  • Mixing more than one drug (polysubstance abuse)
  • Any prescription drugs that you take
  • Underlying mental health disorders
  • Length of your addiction
  • Amount of drugs or alcohol you consume
  • Age and body weight
  • Co-occurring medical issues

In addition, the way you choose to detox affects your withdrawal symptoms. For instance, quitting “cold turkey” without professional support often leads to more intense symptoms. This is because you don’t have access to resources that can help lessen the severity of withdrawal. [For more on specific symptoms, jump ahead to withdrawal symptom timelines].

Thus, it is important to get professional help from a drug and alcohol detox center if you are concerned about withdrawal. This can reduce your risk of medical complications resulting from your symptoms. Professional detox programs also hold you accountable for your newfound sobriety—which significantly reduces the chances of relapse in early recovery.

young man sits alone isolating during drug withdrawal

What Causes Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal occurs because, over time, you become dependent upon substances. In other words, your body and mind rely on drugs or alcohol to function normally. So, when you stop taking substances, you have an adverse reaction until you adjust to the change.

Dependence Vs. Addiction (What’s the Difference?)

It’s important to note that addiction and dependence don’t mean the same thing. Addiction is primarily characterized by psychological and behavioral issues, including the following:

  • Wanting to cut back or quit and being unable to do so
  • Financial issues related to substance abuse
  • Need more drugs or alcohol for the same effects
  • Obsessing about the next time you can get drunk or high
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and socializing (if it doesn’t include drugs or alcohol)
  • Neglecting responsibilities to work, school, or family
  • Engaging in risky behaviors while under the influence
  • Unable to stop using or drinking despite negative consequences

However, while dependence almost always accompanies addiction, some people are dependent on a substance without being addicted. This happens often with prescription medications—you rely on them for a specific medical or psychiatric need, and, as a result, are dependent. 

So, even if you take your medication as prescribed, you could go into withdrawal if you suddenly stop taking it. This is common with psychiatric medications, like benzodiazepines, which can cause severe withdrawal symptoms.

How Long Do Drug Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

As mentioned previously, drug withdrawal symptoms vary in how long they last due to factors unique to you and your addiction. However, one of the primary factors that determines how long drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms last depends on the substances.

The following are the withdrawal symptoms and timelines you can expect when detoxing from the following substances:

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms and Timelines

Opioids (and opiates) are incredibly potent drugs that can easily lead to addiction and other harmful consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “More than 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2021 involved an opioid.” Thus, opioids are among the most deadly drugs abused in the United States today.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include both prescription and illicit substances. Regardless of legality, any opioid can be addictive. However, opioids vary in terms of potency, so the severity and length of withdrawal can be different for each one.

Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diahrea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Fever and chills
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Intense cravings
white opioid pills on a black background

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms and Timelines

Opioids are incredibly potent drugs that can easily lead to addiction and other harmful consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “More than 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2021 involved an opioid.” Thus, opioids are among the most deadly drugs abused in the United States today.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include both prescription and illicit substances. Regardless of legality, any opioid can be addictive. However, opioids vary in terms of potency, so the severity and length of withdrawal can be different for each one.

Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diahrea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Fever and chills
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Intense cravings
white opioid pills on a black background

Fentanyl Withdrawal

Fentanyl is one of the most potent opioids—“up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine,” according to the CDC. As a prescription drug, fentanyl treats severe pain caused by cancer, surgeries, or injuries. However, fentanyl is also produced and sold illegally—contributing to increased rates of overdose deaths.

The fentanyl withdrawal timeline is 5 to 7 days. However, this is just for the acute phase when symptoms are the worst. Afterward, you could have mild symptoms that linger for weeks or months.

Heroin Withdrawal

Heroin is an illicit opioid drug that users inject, smoke, or snort to get high. While heroin is not as powerful as fentanyl, it is still incredibly dangerous. According to the CDC, “Over 11% of all opioid overdose deaths in 2021 involved heroin.”

The heroin withdrawal timeline is 4 to 7 days. Similar to fentanyl withdrawal, this is the timeline for acute symptoms. After that, symptoms can linger, but won’t be as intense. After detox, your symptoms will be mild enough to attend a residential treatment program without feeling too distressed.

Morphine Withdrawal

Morphine treats acute pain from physical injuries or surgery. Typically, it is prescribed for pain that is expected to go away after a person heals. It is not as potent as fentanyl, however, morphine is still highly addictive and could lead to abusing other opioids.

On the other hand, a person who takes morphine as prescribed and doesn’t get addicted can still have withdrawal symptoms if they’ve used it for weeks or months.

The morphine withdrawal timeline is 5 to 7 days. Withdrawal symptoms will appear about 6 to 12 hours after you last used morphine. These symptoms will become more intense for 5 to 7 days. After this, mild physical and psychological symptoms could linger for several months.

Oxycodone Withdrawal

Oxycodone usually affects the digestive system more than other opioids. Therefore, withdrawal symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, could be magnified compared to other opioids.

The oxycodone withdrawal timeline is 5 to 7 days. Like morphine, symptoms will start about 6 to 12 hours after you stop using oxycodone. It’s important to get medical attention during oxycodone detox—especially due to the pronounced digestive symptoms as well as psychological distress.

Methadone Withdrawal

Methadone is a full long-acting opioid agonist used to treat opioid use disorders as part of a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program. The effects of methadone aren’t nearly as powerful as other opioids so it can activate the opioid receptors with minimal side effects. 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), it works by “[reducing] opioid craving and withdrawal and [blunting] or [blocking] the effects of opioids.” However, because methadone is an opioid, it still has a potential for abuse.

The methadone withdrawal timeline is 10 to 14 days. Methadone has a longer half-life than most other opioids. Thus, acute withdrawal symptoms can last much longer—up to two weeks.

Suboxone Withdrawal

Suboxone, like methadone, treats opioid use disorder as part of an MAT program. It is a combination of two medications, naloxone and buprenorphine. 

Naloxone is the active ingredient in Narcan, whereas buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. Because buprenorphine acts on the opioid receptors, some people abuse Suboxone to get high.

The Suboxone withdrawal timeline is 14 to 17 days. Like methadone, Suboxone has a long half-life. Therefore, it may take up to 3 days for withdrawal to start. They will slowly increase in severity and peak after about a week or so.

Hydrocodone Withdrawal

Hydrocodone is an extended-release prescription painkiller. Unlike most prescription painkillers, it is not taken as needed. Instead, you take hydrocodone on a schedule, like every 12 hours, to prevent pain from occurring.

Because of this, you could become physically dependent or addicted to hydrocodone, even if taken as prescribed. Therefore, it is important to talk to your doctor about stopping hydrocodone even if you aren’t abusing your medication.

The hydrocodone withdrawal timeline is 5 to 8 days. Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms are generally not as intense as other opioids. However, they tend to last a little longer than other opioid withdrawal timelines.

Kratom Withdrawal

Kratom is derived from the leaves of a tree found in Southeast Asia. The effects are similar to opioids and stimulants. Generally, in small doses, kratom is more like a stimulant whereas, in large doses, the effects are more like opioids.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “…people report using kratom to alleviate pain, to address symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, to help stop or reduce opioid or other substance use and to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings related to opioids and other drugs.” 

However, there are still many unknowns about kratom. Still, it is known to carry the risk of addiction and other dangers.

The kratom withdrawal timeline is 6 to 10 days. Typically, kratom withdrawal lasts a little longer than most other types of opioids. And, like other opioids, there may be lingering psychological symptoms for months after you quit.

Depressant Withdrawal Symptoms and Timelines

Depressants slow down activity in the central nervous system (CNS). Withdrawal symptoms from depressants vary based on the type. However, withdrawal from depressants—especially alcohol and benzodiazepines—can be extremely distressing, and, in some cases, life-threatening.

Therefore, if you want to quit drinking or using a prescription depressant like Xanax, it is important to talk to your doctor first. That way, you can get the professional help you need to safely detox and manage withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of depressant withdrawal include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Profuse sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Tremors and muscle spasms
  • Cravings

In addition, you could have dangerous symptoms, like seizures or hallucinations, depending upon the depressant and the level of your addiction.

man drinking alcohol

Depressant Withdrawal Symptoms and Timelines

Depressants slow down activity in the central nervous system (CNS). Withdrawal symptoms from depressants vary based on the type. However, withdrawal from depressants—especially alcohol and benzodiazepines—can be extremely distressing, and, in some cases, life-threatening.

Therefore, if you want to quit drinking or using a prescription depressant like Xanax, it is important to talk to your doctor first. That way, you can get the professional help you need to safely detox and manage withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of depressant withdrawal include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Profuse sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Tremors and muscle spasms
  • Cravings

In addition, you could have dangerous symptoms, like seizures or hallucinations, depending upon the depressant and the level of your addiction.

man drinking alcohol

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are among the most dangerous of all substances. It is also one of the most widely used substances. According to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), “Among people aged 12 or older in 2022, 48.7 percent (or 137.4 million people) drank alcohol in the past month.”

Depending on how much you drink or for how long, you could have severe withdrawal symptoms called delirium tremens, which include:

  • Agitation
  • Sleep that lasts a day or more
  • Severe confusion
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Seizures
  • Cardiovascular issues

The alcohol withdrawal timeline is 3 to 7 days. Withdrawal symptoms will begin about 6 to 12 hours after your last drink. Between 36 and 72 hours, you can expect to go through the acute phase of withdrawal, where your symptoms are the most intense and dangerous. Symptoms should gradually decrease in intensity for a few days after they peak.

Marijuana Withdrawal

Despite myths that say otherwise, you can get addicted to marijuana. Marijuana has effects similar to other depressants, like relaxation and euphoria. However, marijuana use in high doses can cause anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.

The marijuana withdrawal timeline is 3 weeks. Although marijuana withdrawal symptoms are milder than other depressants, they can last much longer. The most distressing symptoms, like cravings or feeling on edge, will peak within the first week. After that, symptoms will gradually go away over the next few weeks.

Xanax Withdrawal

Xanax is a brand name for a type of benzodiazepine called alprazolam. This medication offers relief for those experiencing panic attacks or generalized anxiety. Even when used as prescribed, however, you can develop a dependency on Xanax.

Therefore, whether you abuse Xanax or take it as prescribed, you are at a high risk of withdrawal if you suddenly stop taking it. Withdrawal symptoms from Xanax can be severe, including delirium, seizures, hallucinations, intense cravings, and insomnia.

The Xanax withdrawal timeline is 1 to 2 weeks. Withdrawal symptoms begin about a day after you stop using Xanax. During the first week, you are at the greatest risk of having symptoms like seizures or hallucinations. After the first week of withdrawal, mild symptoms could linger for about another week.

Ketamine Withdrawal

Ketamine withdrawal can be uncomfortable and distressing. However, it is rarely dangerous. Still, you could have symptoms of depression during withdrawal that can increase the risk of self-harm or suicide.

The ketamine withdrawal timeline is about 3 to 7 days. The acute phase of ketamine withdrawal lasts about 7 days, but you could have lingering symptoms for several weeks afterward. The first 3 days can be intense and may include symptoms like agitation, hallucinations, double vision, rapid breathing, and hearing loss.

GHB Withdrawal

GHB (gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter that helps to calm the central nervous system. However, GHB is also synthesized artificially and used as both a prescription and illegal drug. As a depressant drug, GHB withdrawal can be similar to other substances like alcohol or Xanax.

The GHB withdrawal timeline is about 2 weeks. Symptoms of GHB withdrawal begin soon after you stop taking it. Depending on the severity of your addiction, you could have acute withdrawal symptoms that go up and down in intensity for about 2 weeks. During this time, your symptoms can range from mild to severe and even dangerous—including delirium, psychosis, and seizures.

Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms and Timelines

Stimulant drugs excite the central nervous system (CNS) and increase activity in the brain. These drugs can make people feel invulnerable, alert, euphoric, and excited—usually for short periods, which are then followed by a “crash.”

Stimulant drug withdrawal symptoms tend to mimic the crash that users experience after the effects wear off. Many of your brain’s feel-good chemicals are depleted after using stimulants, which causes unpleasant feelings, like depression and anxiety. As a result, users consume more drugs to avoid these unpleasant aftereffects—beginning the cycle of addiction.

Symptoms of stimulant withdrawal include:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Feeling “jittery”
  • Slow heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Increased appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Moving or speaking slowly
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Drug cravings
  • Trouble contrentrating
  • Memory problems
person holds baggies of illegal stimulant drugs

Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms and Timelines

Stimulant drugs excite the central nervous system (CNS) and increase activity in the brain. These drugs can make people feel invulnerable, alert, euphoric, and excited—usually for short periods, which are then followed by a “crash.”

Stimulant drug withdrawal symptoms tend to mimic the crash that users experience after the effects wear off. Many of your brain’s feel-good chemicals are depleted after using stimulants, which causes unpleasant feelings, like depression and anxiety. As a result, users consume more drugs to avoid these unpleasant aftereffects—beginning the cycle of addiction.

Symptoms of stimulant withdrawal include:

  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Feeling “jittery”
  • Slow heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Increased appetite
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Moving or speaking slowly
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Drug cravings
  • Trouble contrentrating
  • Memory problems
person holds baggies of illegal stimulant drugs

Cocaine Withdrawal

The effects of cocaine are immediate and wear off relatively quickly. The intense high is followed by a crash, which results in depressive symptoms and general feelings of discomfort. In fact, this crash is the beginning of withdrawal.

The cocaine withdrawal timeline is 7 to 10 days. Withdrawal symptoms begin once the effects of cocaine wear off—which could be within hours after you stop. At first, your symptoms will be intense, and you will have strong cravings. However, symptoms will wane in intensity gradually for about a week.

Meth Withdrawal

Methamphetamine—commonly called crystal meth or simply meth—is an extremely potent stimulant drug. While the effects of meth are similar to cocaine, they can last for four to 16 hours. Some people get addicted to meth after the first use as a result.

It’s no secret that meth is a dangerous drug. According to the CDC, meth was involved in 32,856 of the 107,622 overdose deaths in the US during 2021.

The meth withdrawal timeline is 7 to 10 days. The withdrawal timeline for meth is similar to that of cocaine. However, because the effects of meth last much longer, your symptoms won’t start until about a day after your last use. In addition, psychological and cognitive symptoms could last for months after you detox.

Prescription and OTC Withdrawal Symptoms and Timelines

While some of the above-mentioned drugs are prescriptions, like Xanax, it can be difficult to classify some prescription or over-the-counter medications (OTC). As a result, the withdrawal symptoms for each will vary.

However, even when taken as prescribed, some medications can be habit-forming or cause a physical dependency. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking prescription or OTC medications.

prescription drug pill bottles

Prescription and OTC Withdrawal Symptoms and Timelines

While some of the above-mentioned drugs are prescriptions, like Xanax, it can be difficult to classify some prescription or over-the-counter medications (OTC). As a result, the withdrawal symptoms for each will vary.

However, even when taken as prescribed, some medications can be habit-forming or cause a physical dependency. This can lead to withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking prescription or OTC medications.

prescription drug pill bottles

Trazodone Withdrawal

Trazadone is an antidepressant that also treats major depressive disorder (MDD) as well as sleeping disorders. It’s an atypical antidepressant, which means that it works differently than most other antidepressants, like SSRIs and MAOIs. Because of this, doctors prescribe trazodone when typical antidepressants are ineffective.

If you suddenly stop taking trazodone, you could experience the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness/nausea
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
  • Tingling sensation or numbness
  • Seizure

The trazodone withdrawal timeline can last a few days to weeks. The timeline for withdrawal as well as the severity of your symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. Therefore, it is important to talk to your doctor before stopping your trazodone prescription.

Benadryl Withdrawal

Benadryl is a popular OTC medication that treats allergy symptoms. Most people take Benadryl (diphenhydramine) safely without a prescription. Still, others abuse it for side effects, like relaxation and drowsiness.

For example, some people take Benadryl daily as a sleep aid or to manage stress—even when they don’t have allergy symptoms. Others take it in large doses for enhanced effects, which can be dangerous. 

Symptoms of Benadryl withdrawal include the following:

  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Confusion

The Benadryl withdrawal timeline can last for 1 to 2 weeks. Depending on factors such as how long you’ve misused Benadryl and the amount you use, the withdrawal timeline can vary. Your symptoms will begin about 24-48 hours after you stop taking Benadryl and peak in intensity within 3 to 7 days.

Vyvanse Withdrawal

Vyvanse is a prescription stimulant drug that treats attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and binge eating disorder. Some people misuse their prescription by taking more than directed for the euphoric effects. Others purchase Vyvanse pills from others to abuse it recreationally or to stay awake for long periods of time.

Over time—even if you take Vyvanse as prescribed—you can develop a dependence on it. If you stop taking it suddenly, you can expect symptoms similar to other stimulant drug withdrawal symptoms.

The symptoms of Vyvanse withdrawal can include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Increased appetite
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Drug cravings
  • Difficulty feeling pleasure

The Vyvanse withdrawal timeline is 6 to 8 days. You can expect acute withdrawal symptoms to dissipate within this timeframe. Depending on how long you’ve taken Vyvanse, however, your withdrawal symptoms could last longer. If you abuse Vyvanse in heavy doses, you might have symptoms like cravings and loss of pleasure for weeks or even months after you stop taking it.

Seroquel Withdrawal

Seroquel, the brand name for quetiapine, is an antipsychotic medication that treats bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression. Although the potential for Seroquel abuse is fairly low, some people do misuse this medication to manage or as a sleep aid. 

In addition, even when taken as prescribed, you could develop a physical dependence on Seroquel. Therefore, you could have withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it. Withdrawal will also include a reappearance of the psychiatric symptoms that Seroquel helped to manage.

The symptoms of Seroquel withdrawal can include the following:

  • Insomnia and sleep disruption
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Worsening mental health symptoms
  • Agitation
  • Headaches
  • Sweating and hot flashes

The Seroquel withdrawal timeline is 1 to 2 weeks. You’ll experience withdrawal symptoms within a few days after your last dose. At first, symptoms will be mild and gradually worsen as you go through peak withdrawal for about one to two weeks. After that, you could have lingering mental health symptoms, especially if you took Seroquel for a psychiatric condition.

Start Detox in Atlanta Today

Drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can vary based on what you use, how often, and how much. Withdrawal is not limited to those abusing illicit substances—those taking medications as prescribed can go through withdrawal if they suddenly stop taking their medication. Professional detox services can help you overcome withdrawal symptoms safely and begin recovery from addiction and dependency.

Contact Detox ATL today to start drug and alcohol detox in Atlanta, Georgia.