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What Are the Different Types of Physical Withdrawal Symptoms?

A heroin withdrawal period can be severe.
Withdrawal symptoms occur after a person has become dependent on a drug, whether physically or mentally.
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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2014
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There are many different types of physical withdrawal symptoms, depending on the type of drug involved. Each drug affects the body in different ways, which means the symptoms of withdrawal are different, too. Common symptoms include excessive sweating and heart palpitations. A person withdrawing from a drug also may suffer from physical illness such as vomiting. Certain drugs, such as alcohol, may cause more severe symptoms that are potentially life threatening if the separation period isn’t handled correctly.

Physical withdrawal symptoms can occur with separation from a number of different substances, but they are most common when a person decreases his or her intake of medical or recreational drugs, including alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms can only occur once a person’s body has become dependent on that substance, either mentally or physically. The severity of physical withdrawal symptoms ranges from minor to potentially fatal, which is why separation from a drug should always be performed under supervision from a medical professional.

Some of the most common physical withdrawal symptoms include sweating and tension in the muscles. All drugs produce their own withdrawal symptoms, with some causing more mental symptoms than physical, and vice versa. Alcohol and opiates are more likely to cause physical symptoms compared to drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy.

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Other physical withdrawal symptoms can include developing a tremor, heart palpitations, a fast heart rate and problems with breathing. Some people also suffer from nausea, diarrhea or vomiting. These symptoms usually get worse for a few days or weeks after separation before they start to get better, although the time period varies greatly from one addict to the next.

In some cases, physical withdrawal symptoms can be severe and potentially dangerous. This is particularly likely if a person is trying to reduce consumption of tranquilizers or alcohol. Some of the most dangerous withdrawal symptoms include strokes, heart attacks and seizures. Withdrawal also may cause hallucinations or delirium tremens, which in turn causes confusion and a variety of other symptoms. Severe symptoms are usually not seen in people withdrawing from opiates such as heroin, although it still can be a very uncomfortable experience.

The cause of physical withdrawal symptoms varies depending on the type of drug involved. Alcohol, for example, suppresses the body’s natural ability to produce certain types of chemicals, such as adrenaline. When the person stops drinking alcohol, the body is able to produce adrenaline again, leading to a surge of the chemical that causes withdrawal symptoms.

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Discuss this Article

anon316871
Post 3

I'm addicted to narcotics as well as heroine. I'm starting to go through withdrawal and it stinks. I can't handle it. Physically, I'm a wreck and mentally, I'm even worse. I'm not sure how to handle it every time I try to get help it comes a little to late.

I hurt, I'm emotional, I'm sweating and I'm cold. The heart palpitations are kicking in and all I want is just one more pill to keep it all away.

Denha
Post 2

Some addictions are worse because they can't be dealt with as simply. I have known a few people with food addictions. In those cases they usually had certain foods that triggered the withdrawal symptoms, but because they could never just stop eating the way you can stop drinking or doing drugs, the withdrawal lasted a lot longer.

helene55
Post 1

I don't like to think of myself as an addict, but I do drink caffeine every day, and when I don't get it I do suffer withdrawal symptoms, mainly headaches and feeling sleepier than I should based on how much rest I've had. Caffeine, alcohol, and even things like ibuprofen and other pain relievers really are drugs, even though we don't typically think of them as such.

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