Withdrawal refers to the physical problems and emotions you
experience if you are dependent on a substance (such as alcohol, prescription
medicines, or illegal drugs) and then suddenly stop or drastically reduce your
intake of the substance.
Symptoms of withdrawal are caused by decreased amounts of alcohol or
drugs in the blood or tissues of a person who has grown accustomed to prolonged
heavy use and who then suddenly stops. Withdrawal syndrome is a set of symptoms
that occur when you decrease or stop drinking or using drugs after using
alcohol or drugs for a long time.
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may begin from 4 to 12 hours after
you cut down or stop drinking, or as long as several days after the last drink,
and can last a few days. They can range from mild to life-threatening.
Mild withdrawal symptoms may include:
little tense or edgy.
Severe withdrawal symptoms may
Being extremely confused, jumpy, or
Feeling things on your body that are not
Seeing or hearing things that are not
Life-threatening symptoms of withdrawal
are called delirium tremens (DTs). Symptoms of DTs include all of the symptoms
listed above plus seizures. Untreated DTs can lead to death.
Prescription medicines or illegal drugs
Symptoms of withdrawal from either illegal drugs or prescription
medicines depend on the drug or combination of drugs. Common withdrawal
If you are dependent on alcohol or drugs and are experiencing
symptoms of withdrawal, you may need a visit to your doctor to
help you manage your symptoms.
Primary Medical Reviewer
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.