Detox: What to Expect During Withdrawal and Quick Tips for Pulling Through

Overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol is never an easy feat, even with plenty of resources and support readily available. Whether you are looking to quit an addiction that has lasted for years or if you have only recently noticed your addiction, it is essential to know what to expect during the withdrawal process. Understanding withdrawal and how to overcome potential side effects you may experience when eliminating drugs and alcohol from your life is imperative to remain strong, committed, and dedicated to a life of sobriety. To learn how to effectively maintain a life of sobriety while going through the withdrawal process of detoxing, read more below.

What is Withdrawal?

Withdrawal is the process of eliminating toxins from the body, often resulting in adverse effects that are far from pleasant. The effects of withdrawal on the body vary based on which substance an individual is addicted to as well as the severity of the addiction itself. Over time, as the body readjusts to a life without alcohol or drugs, the withdrawal symptoms experienced begin to dissipate.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal

Withdrawal has the ability to manifest both physically and psychologically, depending on the substance you are addicted to and attempting to eliminate from your body.

Some of the most common and prevalent physical signs of withdrawal include:


Feeling unable to sleep or get a full night’s rest is extremely common, especially during the first stages of withdrawal.


Tremors and shakiness in the extremities are extremely common, especially in an individual with a severe addiction to alcohol or more serious drugs (including prescription medications). When an individual is consistently shaky while going without alcohol, the tremors are often referred to as “the shakes”.


Pain throughout the body’s muscles and joints may occur if you have become addicted to substances such as opiates or illicit street drugs. Feeling extremely tender and sore is not uncommon during detox.


Nausea and vomiting are one of the most common physical symptoms of withdrawal while detoxing from any substance, especially if you are struggling to overcome a severe addiction.

Change in Stool:

A change in the stool may occur, especially if you have been addicted to opiates. You may experience bouts of diarrhea, cramping, and constipation throughout the detox process.


Experiencing headaches while detoxing is not uncommon and is most likely to occur in those who have developed a physical addiction to a substance.


You may experience chills similar to those that occur during a stomach bug or high fever. As your body attempts to eliminate the substance from your body, increased sweating and chills help to remove toxins.

In addition to physical withdrawal signs, common psychological symptoms that manifest during the withdrawal process include:


An increase in anxiety is likely to occur while going through the first stages of detox. Without the ability to access and consume the substance you are fighting against, you may naturally feel extremely anxious, worried, and stressed out as your body attempts to readjust to a life without the substance.

Irritability and Mood Swings:

Increased irritability is extremely common among individuals who are just starting to detox their bodies. Agitation may also become prevalent, especially if the substance an individual is addicted to is physically addicting in addition to psychologically addicting.


Bouts of depression may manifest as you begin to work through your detox program. Feeling sad, hopeless, and lost is not uncommon and should be addressed by working together with a professional who specializes in overcoming an addiction to prevent giving in to the temptation of drugs and alcohol, triggering a relapse.


Similar to anxiety, paranoia is more likely among individuals who are detoxing from potentially life-threatening substances.

In severe cases of addiction, individuals are at risk for seizures, heart attacks, coma, strokes, hallucinations, and even death when not monitored properly during the detox process. Seeking out a detox center that specializes in assisting individuals overcoming addiction is essential to prevent potentially life-threatening responses when eliminating a substance from your life altogether.

Facing the Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal Head-On

One of the first steps to take when entering a detox rehabilitation program is to admit that you are in need of detox and that you have an addiction. Once you are able to speak openly about your addiction, reach out to friends and loved ones to build a network of moral and emotional support as you begin your journey into a life of sobriety. Seek out both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centers that specialize in detox programs that are optimal for you based on the substance you are struggling to rid from your life.

Educate your family and friends about addiction along with the withdrawal signs and symptoms you are likely to experience. Ask your friends and family members to visit you during your detox program if visitors are allowed. Spend time distracting your mind by meditating, practicing breathing exercises, or even dabbling in a new hobby such as painting or playing an instrument. Remember that withdrawal symptoms are temporary and will pass, even if it feels as if you may never have relief once you begin the detox process.

Continued Therapy and Aftercare

It is also imperative to continue seeking individual and group therapy even after you have completed a rehabilitation or detox program. Aftercare resources are often provided by rehabilitation centers and clinics themselves, in addition to therapists and medical professionals who specialize in detox. Aftercare is extremely significant in the process of detoxing and overcoming addiction, which is why it is important to keep various local resources in mind even after you have eliminated a substance from your body with a detox program.

When facing addiction or assisting a loved one through the rehabilitation process, knowing what to expect with withdrawal is a must. If you feel prepared to take on both physical and psychological signs of withdrawal, it becomes much easier to remain dedicated while persistently working towards a life entirely free from the use of drugs and alcohol. While overcoming addiction requires hard work and can feel overwhelming at times, committing to sobriety is a way to live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.

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