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Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal
by Patricia Griffin Kellicker, BSN
Drug withdrawal is a reaction the body can have if a person suddenly stops using illegal drugs, prescription medications, or alcohol. This can occur if the person has been using drugs, medications, or alcohol regularly. Depending on the type and amount of the substance you were using, withdrawal can be a life-threatening condition.
Drug withdrawal can be caused by illegal drugs, prescription medications, or alcohol.
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that increase your chances of drug withdrawal include:
Withdrawal symptoms are different based on what you used. Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done through blood and urine tests.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include one or more of the following:
This is the first step in treating abuse. You will be closely checked for signs of withdrawal. You may be given medications to reduce cravings. Medications will also help to reduce withdrawal symptoms, which can be severe. Treatment is targeted to the specific symptoms and drugs used.
You may need to enroll in a rehabilitation program. This treatment uses behavioral therapy to prevent you from using drugs in the future. Behavioral therapy may include the following:
Residential Treatment (Therapeutic Communities) TOP
Residential treatment is sometimes needed. The typical stay is 6-12 months. These facilities will help you learn how to live a drug-free life.
To help reduce your chances of developing drug withdrawal, take the following steps:
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
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Updated December 2012. Accessed June 21, 2016.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 5/28/2015
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