What Are The Components of Drug Withdrawal?

person going through drug withdrawal

What is drug withdrawal?

It is the experience that a person who is addicted to drugs goes through at the outset when quitting. A drug addict may also face withdrawal symptoms when he or she can’t get another fix and has gone longer than normal without using the drug. If you have ever been a regular coffee drinker, you can get some idea of what drug withdrawals are like when you think of how you feel when you skip your morning cup. You might feel a headache, or perhaps you get irritable and snappy with your family or co-workers. This example, however, does not fully measure up to the actual experience of withdrawals.

For a better understanding of what drug withdrawal is like, consider heroin withdrawal. The term “cold turkey,” as in “quitting cold turkey,” originates from the fact that a heroin addict who abruptly quits using the drug can expect to feel cold and clammy skin. Furthermore, the symptoms can include sweating, anxiety, insomnia, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and a general feeling of malaise. He or she might even have involuntary jerking motions in the legs, whence we get the phrase, “kicking the habit.” Withdrawal is a powerful experience that often proves to be overwhelming, with the result that many people don’t make it through. It is easier to conquer drug withdrawals, however, if you understand the problem and know what is happening to yourself or a loved one who is going through this experience.

Physical Aspect of Drug Withdrawal

There are two primary components of drug withdrawal. The first is the physical component. One of the ways to understand drug addiction is as a condition in which the body has become dependent on the steady supply of drugs. Cocaine, for example, destabilizes the brain’s delivery of dopamine, a chemical associated with feelings of pleasure and well-being. The brain adapts to the drug, adjusting its own release of dopamine, with the result that failure to get another hit will leave the person suffering from a lack of dopamine. Consequently, withdrawing from a drug typically causes a person to suffer terrible—often torturous—physical symptoms ranging from aches and pains to cold sweats, insomnia, depression, involuntary spasms and more.

To alleviate these symptoms, Narconon centers provide addicts in withdrawal with nutritional supplements including vitamins and minerals. This also helps to kickstart the process of recovery, since a drug addict typically suffers from poor nutrition and needs to rebuild the body.

Introversion and Drug Withdrawal

The other major aspect of drug withdrawal is the mental aspect. Simply put, drug abuse has a powerfully negative effect on a person’s mental and emotional stability. Furthermore, a person who is addicted to drugs typically ends up doing many things that he or she later regrets. The result is that a recovering drug addict is often heavily introverted, meaning that his or her attention is turned inward rather than outward on the exterior world and present time. Even if the person makes it through the stage of detoxification and no longer experiences physical withdrawal symptoms, he or she is liable to still be introverted, a condition that can greatly hinder or even impede further progress in recovery.

objective exercises during withdrawal at Narconon

To address this problem, Narconon provides a series of unique exercises which help to pull the person’s attention out of the past and off of his or her problems and into the present. In some cases, this can be achieved within a matter of hours, while in other cases it may take many days. This step is a crucial component of the Narconon drug rehab program, and it plays a key role in producing the results achieved at Narconon centers throughout the world.


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.