Drug and Alcohol

What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms are easier when you have The Forge Recovery Center on your side. Learn more about withdrawal symptoms in our blog!

What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

October 7, 2022

The Forge Recovery Center

Recovery will not always be an easy journey.

Depending on the addictive substance being used, you may experience intense withdrawal symptoms. If not properly managed, withdrawal symptoms may even become life-threatening.

Fortunately, help is available that can ensure you get through the detox process safely. Understanding what withdrawal symptoms you may experience and what resources are available to ease your withdrawals will help you decrease your anxiety about the detox process.

What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?

When you take drugs or alcohol for an extended period, your brain will try to maintain homeostasis to ensure you are not receiving more chemicals than your body needs to function. Prolonged use will eventually rewire your neurotransmitters as your brain believes it will get dopamine, serotonin, and other vital chemicals from outside substances.

When you abruptly stop using a substance that provides those chemicals, your body will go through withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms can have physical, emotional, and psychological effects. Anxiety, nausea, and insomnia are common experiences during withdrawals. However, depending on your addiction, you may experience other withdrawal symptoms, and you might not experience any at all.

Which Substances Are the Hardest to Detox From? 

All substances have different effects on the body when you are detoxing. Some drugs are harder to detox from because of how intense the withdrawal symptoms can be, while others are more difficult to detox from because they are so easily accessible. The hardest drugs to detox from include:

Methamphetamine (Meth)

Detoxing from meth is particularly challenging because of its potency. When someone stops using meth, they often experience a crash marked by depression, fatigue, and significant drug cravings.

People who struggle with a meth addiction usually have a tough time detoxing on their own due to the intense craving after they stop using. Other symptoms of meth withdrawal include paranoia, psychosis, and agitation, which usually require medical intervention to ensure they do not become so unpleasant that they trigger a relapse.


Cocaine detox is very similar to meth as it brings users intense positive feelings. When someone stops using cocaine, they will likely fall into a depressive episode filled with suicidal ideations and a lack of pleasure. This is because cocaine triggers a dopamine release in the brain.

When cocaine is used long-term, the brain will stop producing natural amounts of dopamine. Due to the severe depression that stopping cocaine use causes, cocaine detox must be medically supervised.

Heroin, Fentanyl, and Other Opioids

Opioids are some of the most widely abused drugs in the United States. People often have trouble detoxing from opioids due to the severe flu-like withdrawal symptoms they experience when detoxing from opioids.

Luckily, some medications can ease these withdrawal symptoms for those detoxing from heroin or prescription opiates. These medications can be given in an inpatient or outpatient setting.


Those severely addicted to alcohol can have withdrawal symptoms that can be life-threatening. It is highly recommended that you seek medical attention while detoxing from alcohol.

How Uncomfortable Will Withdrawal Be for Me?

No two addictions are alike, and withdrawal symptoms will vary during detox. To understand the level of support you will need during detox, it is essential to know your addiction’s severity. Drug rehab does make withdrawal somewhat easier, however.

Suppose you have a moderate to severe addiction and have been abusing drugs or alcohol for a long time. In that case, your withdrawal symptoms will likely be uncomfortable and, in some cases, dangerous. If you do have a mild addiction, it is possible that you may not experience withdrawal symptoms at all.

It is best to speak with a medical professional to help you accurately determine the level of care you will need while undergoing detox.

Do I Need to Go to a Detox Facility?

Whether or not you need to go to a detox facility will likely be decided by your doctor or another qualified medical professional.

For those addicted to nicotine, marijuana, or other substances that do not produce severe withdrawal symptoms, your doctor will likely prescribe you medications to manage your withdrawal symptoms. They will also check in with you occasionally to help you with your smoking cessation efforts. 

However, if you are addicted to a more complex substance like alcohol, cocaine, opiates, or methamphetamine, you will likely be recommended to an inpatient or outpatient detox facility. Additionally, if you are struggling to function normally in your daily life as a result of your addiction, regardless of the substance in question, know that you will likely benefit from inpatient detox.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Detox

In an inpatient detox facility, you will be placed in an environment completely free of drugs and alcohol. During your stay, you will be monitored 24/7. Inpatient treatment is usually recommended for those with severe addictions to ensure that medical intervention can be taken if necessary. Additionally, it is impossible to cave into cravings in an inpatient facility, which can help you avoid relapse when your symptoms become intense.

Outpatient facilities are reserved for those with mild to moderate addictions. People recommended to outpatient facilities usually experience withdrawal symptoms, but they are not debilitating to the extent of needing 24/7 care. In an outpatient facility, you will go to the center two to three times a week to receive medications and support from your care team.

However, at an outpatient addiction center, you will still be able to continue living your daily life. If you are considering going to an outpatient facility, be sure you have a proper support system and are committed to staying clean.

Unlike inpatient detox, outpatient detox can be challenging because it offers the opportunity to give in to cravings outside of the treatment facility. For this reason, it is essential to consult with a physician to ensure it is the best option for your recovery. 

Beat Withdrawal Symptoms with The Forge Recovery Center!

Our outpatient addiction center partners with the nation’s best drug detox and inpatient recovery centers to ensure your treatment is truly start-to-end. The Forge Recovery Center will be your partner with recovery, and we also offer a robust alumni program to ensure the hard work you do with us lasts a lifetime.

Don’t let withdrawal be a barrier to treatment. Contact us, and freedom from addiction today!

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