Which Drugs Cause Dangerous Drug Withdrawal?

Which Drugs Cause Dangerous Drug Withdrawal?

This entry was posted in addiction on by .

Drugs and alcohol cause a serious amount of potential damage to individuals who are addicted to them. Compounding the problem is the fact that there can also be dangers related to drug withdrawal. Worrying about the dangers of detox may cause a person to put off getting help.

A person’s substance use disorder can center around abuse of alcohol, opioids, cocaine, methamphetamines, prescription medication, hallucinogens, inhalants, other narcotics, or a combination of drugs. Many people wonder which drugs are dangerous to withdraw from. The answer is that all addictive substances have the potential to have dangerous withdrawal side effects. This fact makes going through the detox process under professional care imperative to ensure a patient’s safety.

Continuing to live a life struggling with a substance use disorder eventually brings dangerous and even deadly consequences to a person’s life. When medical professionals monitor the detoxification process, they can assist with relieving withdrawal symptoms. They monitor any signs of dangers of detox, which allows the patient to concentrate on their recovery.

Average Time Period for Withdrawal From Addictive Substances

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) established average time frames for addictive substance withdrawal symptoms. 


  • Alcohol: 5-7 days
  • Opioids: 4-10 days; Methadone: May last 14-21 days
  • Stimulants: 1-2 weeks
  • Benzodiazepines: 1-4 weeks; 3-5 weeks if tapering off gradually
  • Cannabis: 5 days
  • Nicotine: 2-4 weeks

These statistics refer to acute drug withdrawal, which consists of the time immediately after discontinuing or rapidly decreasing the intake of alcohol or drugs. These symptoms typically surface and are treated during a stay at a treatment facility.

Protracted withdrawal defines the symptoms that occur after acute withdrawal ends. It also may be referred to as chronic withdrawal, extended withdrawal, and post-acute withdrawal. The timelines for experiencing protracted withdrawal vary greatly from person to person. They depend on various things such as the treatment programs they engage in. 

The amount of time they spent living with a substance use disorder and the amount of drugs and alcohol consumed also factor in. Many patients report experiencing protracted withdrawal symptoms from a few weeks to several months.

Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With Addiction to Drugs and Alcohol

Many symptoms can occur during withdrawal from substance abuse. The most common ones include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Changes in sleep pattern
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle pain
  • Change in appetite
  • Feeling restless
  • Runny nose and congestion
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

How To Avoid the Dangers of Detox

A person who knows they live a life consumed by addiction often reaches a point of no return. They make the difficult decision to seek help. What may cause them to delay actually taking action concerns the fear of experiencing dangerous symptoms related to the detoxification experience.

Medical professionals warn that detox should not be done alone. Many treatment programs provide a safe place to complete the initial detox process. Patients receive round-the-clock medical supervision. Their drug withdrawal symptoms can be monitored and assistance offered as needed.

After detox ends, many options exist to help a patient embrace and continue their newfound recovery over the following weeks or months. These options can include:

  • Day Treatment in a Partial Hospitalization Program
  • Outpatient Treatment
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment
  • Residing in a Sober Living House
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment

Each of these choices involves trained clinicians who understand how to identify signs of the dangers of detox and address them. 

Treating Dangerous Withdrawal Symptoms Related to Mental Health

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports a huge crossover between those who struggle with addiction and those who deal with mental health issues. Of the 20.3 million adults with a substance use disorder, 37.9%  also have a mental illness. Of the 42.1 million adults with a mental illness, 18.2% also deal with substance use disorder.

Many programs treat both substance use disorders and any accompanying mental health issues. This allows patients to receive treatment for both diagnoses. Patients often arrive in treatment in need of reevaluation of any prescription drugs they take related to mental illness conditions. A clinician may identify a need for a change in dosage or medication type. If so, they can offer assistance for any accompanying withdrawal symptoms. 

Another dangerous drug withdrawal symptom that many do not consider involves the emotional toll experienced by stopping drug and alcohol usage. Assistance needed during detox and the initial stages of recovery related to mental health isn’t just about prescription medications. Patients typically have accumulated years or decades of time using drugs and alcohol as an unhealthy coping skill. When that approach is stripped from them, they often feel lost at sea emotionally.

Suddenly being forced to experience their emotions without the haze of  addiction can be a shock. Difficult and potentially dangerous feelings may arise. These may include feelings of anxiety, panic, depression, and suicide ideation. A formal treatment program provides support and solutions for these situations.

Addiction Treatment in Phoenix

Continuum Recovery Center provides an extensive program that treats addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. Our options include Outpatient, Intensive Outpatient, Day Treatment, and Medication-Assisted Treatment. We believe lasting recovery involves addressing the entire person in body, mind, and spirit. Contact us here to find out how we can help you choose recovery and change your life.