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During the detoxification period, your body will experience uncomfortable changes. A medical detox is under the care of a licensed physician who will prescribe appropriate medications to help you remain as comfortable as possible. Withdrawal symptoms can be troublesome. There is no need to suffer if you can get withdrawal with medical assistance. Each drug has a different type of typical symptoms. Each person is unique and will have a unique experience.


The withdrawal period and severity depend on factors like the substances, quantity, and duration of use. The following is a list of commonly abused drugs and their typical withdrawal symptoms:

  • Alcohol – Not everyone who drinks will experience withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol can be dangerous to detox from without medical assistance. The associated symptoms are headaches, clammy skin, shakiness, fatigue, loss of appetite, and difficulty thinking clearly. Delirium tremens (DTs) can be life-threatening and can occur anywhere from two days to a week since the last drink. Physical withdrawal can last from 24 to 72 hours, while psychological symptoms can last for months.
  • Heroin – Withdrawal from heroin can be painful and extremely uncomfortable, but it is not as dangerous as alcohol. It can feel like the flu. Common symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea, runny nose, achiness, fatigue, sweats, depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Symptoms can last anywhere from 1 to 7 days. If signs last weeks or months, it is likely post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). The danger of heroin withdrawal can be aspiration due to vomiting and then breathing the contents into the lungs.
  • Marijuana – Compared to alcohol and heroin, marijuana withdrawal symptoms are mild. The danger of stopping marijuana is the likelihood of returning to use and failing to quit. Frequent symptoms are cravings, mood disturbance, sleep disruption, headaches, and appetite change. Mood swings can include irritability, depression, and anxiety. Physical withdrawal symptoms tend to be less intense and fade more quickly than psychological symptoms.
  • Nicotine – Although nicotine does not require inpatient rehabilitation, clients often do smoke. If you want to quit smoking while you seek treatment, you might want to know the symptoms and details of withdrawal. To ultimately withdraw, the body needs to rid itself of nicotine. Patches, gum, or prescription medication can help ease the symptoms and discomfort. The following are common symptoms from quitting smoking: cravings, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, inability to concentrate, headache, cough, sore throat, postnasal drip, and dry mouth. Withdrawal begins hours after the last cigarette smoked, and symptoms duration varies from person to person.
  • Oxycontin – Withdrawal symptoms are similar to other opiate-based drugs like heroin, morphine, methadone, and codeine. If Oxycontin was taken as a therapeutic method as prescribed, you might not even realize withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms include cramping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, agitation, anxiety, aches, increased tearing, insomnia, runny nose, sweating, and yawning. Ranging from mild to severe, withdrawal depends on how much and the length of time it was taken. Like heroin, Oxycontin withdrawal can cause aspiration. Dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea also pose a risk.
  • Methamphetamines – Experts suggest that meth withdrawal has two phases. The first, more intense part occurs during the early 24 hours after the last use. It can last over the next week with gradually decreasing intensity. The second phase lasts for up to three more weeks. Symptoms beyond this can be PAWS. The longer a person has used meth, the more intense the withdrawal can be. Symptoms typically include anxiety, fatigue and sleepiness, depression, psychosis, meth cravings, and increased appetite.
  • Cocaine – Withdrawal symptoms are similar to meth since they are both psychostimulant drugs. Cocaine cravings, depression, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, sleep disturbances, increased appetite, and physical slowing or agitation are all associated with cocaine withdrawal. These symptoms can last from hours to days, depending on your history of use.


During the detox portion of your treatment, you will meet with a licensed physician and describe your symptoms and your history of drug and alcohol use. The doctor can then determine the right course of action to help alleviate your symptoms. The goal of detox is for you to be as comfortable as possible so that you can focus on treatment when you are ready for the next phase. Some common medications that are used for medical detox:

  • Catapres (clonidine)
  • Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
  • Buprenex (buprenorphine)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Methadone
  • Antidepressants
  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)

Despite extensive studies, there are currently no FDA approved drugs for marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine withdrawal. Experts speculated that the results of the studies were ineffective, or the results were mixed. You must speak with a doctor before attempting to medicate yourself during withdrawal.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Once the acute withdrawal is complete, you might experience PAWS.
Symptoms can last from 6 months to up to 2 years after detox. Symptoms include irritability, depression, sadness, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, cloudy thinking, lowered ability to focus, sexual disinterest, or chronic pain. There is no exact time frame for PAWS. With the support and medical intervention, symptoms can be monitored. Likely, you will be out of residential treatment and back home during this phase. Support can be extremely beneficial to help prevent relapse.

The Ho tai Way – Recovery for Women and Detox

We believe that detox is the most critical part of your recovery journey. Medications can make you more comfortable to manage the distressing symptoms. Without a proper detox, you cannot begin treatment. We strive for you to adjust to your new surroundings before you start learning about your addiction. During your detox, you can expect to meet with our physician to go over your medical needs during this crucial stage. You will be prescribed appropriate medication if needed. While you settle in, you can expect to complete an assessment, meet with your therapist, and begin planning for the next treatment stages.

Stop suffering through withdrawal. You deserve to be as comfortable as possible. If you are ready to be supported through your detox, contact our admissions department. Call (714) 581-3974.