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Withdrawal: Everything You Need To Know

Withdrawal: Everything You Need To Know

Withdrawal refers to symptoms, both mental and physical, that a person experiences when they stop or reduce their substance intake. The symptoms can range from unpleasant to potentially harmful in some cases. This article explores why withdrawal occurs, what symptoms you can expect, as well as steps you can take to get the help you need!

The team at Pacifica Treatment Centre wants to make information about substance use more widely available to the community. When people are well informed, it increases the opportunity for positive changes. Withdrawal is undoubtedly a challenging part of the recovery process, however, the more informed and prepared you are, the more likely you are to achieve success in your recovery.!

Looking for more support, services, or information? Visit our resources page!

Withdrawal and the Human Body

Why does the human body exhibit symptoms of withdrawal when substances are reduced or eliminated? In short, the natural processes that occur within the brain are disrupted by substances, to the point that the brain becomes accustomed to or reliant on their presence.

Certain substances trick the brain into producing dopamine, which the brain creates naturally. Dopamine is our brain’s way of rewarding constructive behaviour. If you do something that benefits yourself or others, and you feel good about yourself; that’s dopamine doing its job as it was intended.

When substances tap into this process and trigger the artificial release of dopamine, the human brain stops producing dopamine on its own. You can probably see where issues will inevitably arise. Once a person makes the decision to stop substance misuse, the brain is very suddenly in a dopamine deficit, leading to symptoms like anxiety and depression.


How Long Does Withdrawal Typically Last?

Depending on the type of withdrawal you experience, you may have symptoms that last from days to weeks, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Something important to note:. tThe physical symptoms will be the first side effects to clear up, usually within days or a week. However, the cognitive effects and dysphoria that accompany withdrawal can take weeks to overcome.


Withdrawal Symptoms

You may not experience all of these symptoms, as they vary depending on the substances being misused and the person, however, common symptoms may include:


  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Depression


Symptoms Based on Substances

As noted above, some symptoms are common across all substance withdrawal., However, there are more common withdrawal symptoms per substance. while other symptoms tend to occur only from specific substance withdrawal. To give you a better idea of what to expect, here is a brief list of specific withdrawal symptoms based on substances:


  • Sedatives: withdrawal can cause restlessness, muscle pain, bone pain, diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, or hot and cold flashes with goosebumps.
  • Depressants: withdrawal can cause anxiety, nervousness, depression, brain fog, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, rapid heart rate, loss of appetite, clammy skin, and tremors, hallucinations, severe confusion, or seizures.
  • Stimulants: withdrawal can cause depression, fatigue, impaired cognition, or restlessness.
  • Cannabinoids: withdrawal can cause irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, or anxiety.


Get The Help You Need

If you are concerned about withdrawal and its potential symptoms, there are options that can help mitigate or reduce your side effects.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

This process involves specially prescribed medications that are designed to provide your body with controlled doses, to satisfy urges and help prevent the onset of severe withdrawal. These doses change over time as your body adjusts. This is a more gradual process that helps you avoid the shock of quitting immediately.

Withdrawal Management

Another option that can help you navigate the withdrawal process are is Withdrawal Management (WM) programs. These programs are typically offered on medically supervised premises with private rooms. This allows you to go through withdrawal in a safe, private space while being closely monitored by trained health professionals. This helps mitigate the risks of entering withdrawal alone or unsupervised.

Self Help Tips

There are also things that you could do to help yourself feel better during the withdrawal process, including:


  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Eat a well-balanced diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Use over-the-counter (OTC) medications to combat symptoms
  • Get enough sleep


If you or someone you care for is struggling with withdrawal symptoms, the team at Pacifica Treatment Centre is here to guide you in determining the next best steps. Our team is happy to provide you with resources and offer advice that has your best interest in mind.

Substance Use Rehabilitation Centre In Vancouver, BC

Pacifica provides in-residence treatment and community-based services for individuals experiencing problematic substance use in conjunction with concurrent mental health concerns and trauma.

To learn more about our programs or to take the first step toward recovery, call 1-866-446-0668 (24hrs) or schedule an appointment online today!

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