Understanding Drug Addiction and Withdrawal

Understanding Drug Addiction and Withdrawal

What is Addiction

Prolonged use of any addictive drug can lead to addiction, which is described as a chronic (continuing) brain disease. Powerful drugs and other substances that have the ability to lead to addiction cause serious changes in the brain when they're abused for a prolonged period of time, and the effects are destructive and devastating.

Drug addiction causes a person to compulsively crave, seek out and use the substance they're addicted to.

When a person is battling addiction they're unable to control their use no matter what their drug use is doing to them or anyone else. Drug addiction is so powerful and destructive that the addict will continue to use no matter what the harmful consequences may be. It doesn't matter how an addict's drug use is affecting their health, or the serious impact it's having any other area of their life, drug addiction affects their ability to control their use.

Even though drug use may have been a choice in the beginning, when a person's battling drug addiction their ability to resist the impulsive cravings they experience is seriously challenged. The addict's loss of self-control is due to serious changes that have taken place over-time from their prolonged drug use. Unfortunately with drug addiction there are also withdrawal symptoms experienced when they're not able to use.

What is Drug Addiction Withdrawal

With drug addiction the body gets use to the presence of the addictive drug that's been abused and depending on the substance, physical and sometimes emotional symptoms of withdrawal can even begin as the drug is wearing off. Withdrawal is associated with long-term drug use and can take place if a person significantly reduces the amount used or suddenly stops taking using the drug.

Depending on the type of drug abused and circumstances surrounding the addiction, withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and possibly painful. The symptoms experienced and duration of withdrawal depends on the type of drug that's been abused and the individual's extent of addiction.

Below are some examples of the common symptoms a person could experience during withdrawal from specific drug types. All drugs are different and they don't always affect people exactly the same way either so not everyone experiences the same symptoms during withdrawal. Each individual's drug addiction is unique in many ways and the toll substance abuse has taken on the user can make a huge difference during withdrawal and how severe it is.

  1. Alcohol: anxiety, depression, confusion, fatigue, irritability, shakiness, mood swings, and bad dreams.
  2. Opioids: agitation, anxiety, achy muscles, tearing of the eyes, sleeplessness, runny nose, perspiring, yawning, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, enlarged pupils, goose bumps nausea and vomiting.
  3. Heroin: restlessness, muscle pain, bone pain, sleeplessness, diarrhea, vomiting, cold chills with goose bumps, involuntary kicking of the legs.
  4. Stimulants
  5. Prescription Stimulants: depression, fatigue, increases in appetite, sleeplessness, excessive daytime sleepiness, vivid bad dreams, psychomotor retardation or agitation.
  6. Cocaine: depression, fatigue, sleeplessness, excessive sleepiness in the daytime, increase in appetite, vivid bad dreams, psychomotor retardation or agitation.
  7. Methamphetamine: depression, anxiety, fatigue, intense drug cravings

National Institute on Drug Abuse

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