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The severity of your withdrawal symptoms will depend on what drug you’ve been using, how long you’ve used for and how heavily you’ve abused it. People detoxing of opiates or alcohol will generally more severe withdrawal symptoms and are more likely to need some treatment assistance or medication (Alcohol detox can be life threatening)

The severity of drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can range from:

  • Barely noticeable
  • Moderately uncomfortable
  • Very uncomfortable
  • Dangerous/life threatening

People withdrawing from alcohol or certain sedative hypnotics should never quit cold turkey without medical supervision, to do so can lead to life threatening seizures, heart failure, coma and possible death.

Although an opiate detoxification can be exceedingly uncomfortable, the withdrawal symptoms of heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin and other opiate based analgesics are rarely dangerous.

Delirium Tremens (DT’s)

A small percentage of people in alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal will experience a syndrome of symptoms called the delirium tremens.

In addition to standard symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, people with the delirium tremens may experience symptoms such as:

  • Hallucinations
  • Fear and agitation
  • Severe confusion and a lessening in cognitive capacities
  • Bodily tremors
  • Complete delirium (a loss of mental abilities)
  • Increased sensitivity to stimuli
  • Quick mood changes
  • Seizures

You are more likely to get the delirium tremens if:

  • You drink more than a pint of liquor per day for months in a row
  • You have been alcohol dependent for more than a decade
  • You have gone through alcohol withdrawal before

Left untreated, people with delirium tremens are in real danger of death - It is a medical emergency.1

Marijuana Withdrawal – Is It Real?

Although many people will say that marijuana is a “non-addictive” drug, Harvard University researchers would disagree. In a study conducted in 2000, 60% of heavy marijuana users who quit smoking cannabis for 4 weeks experienced “significant symptoms of withdrawal” such as irritability, low mood, lack of appetite, anxiety and other symptoms. 2

References
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Page last updated Aug 05, 2010

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