Munson Health
Drug Withdrawal

Back to Document

by Kellicker PG

(Abstinence Syndrome)


Risk Factors

Factors that increase your chances of drug withdrawal include:


Withdrawal symptoms are different based on what you used. Symptoms may include:
Physical reaction anxiety
Anxiety is a symptom of drug withdrawal from substances like cocaine and alcohol.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.



This is the first step in treating substance 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:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you how to recognize and avoid situations that may lead to drug abuse.
  • Family therapy helps you and your family look at patterns of drug abuse. Strategies are suggested to avoid future abuse.
  • Motivational therapy uses positive reinforcement to prevent drug use.

Residential Treatment (Therapeutic Communities)

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.

Support Groups

Support groups offer continued support for a drug- or alcohol-free life. Some support groups are Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, and Alcoholics Anonymous.


National Institute on Drug Abuse

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration



Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Narcotics Anonymous



Buprenorphine: an alternative to methadone. Med Lett Drugs Ther. 2003; 45:13.

Drugs, brains, and behavior. The science of addiction National Institute for Drug Abuse website. Available at: Updated August 2010. Accessed June 19, 2014.

Drugfacts: Treatment approaches for drug addiction. National Institute for Drug Abuse website. Available at: Updated September 2009. Accessed June 19, 2014.

Giannini AJ. An approach to drug abuse, intoxication, and withdrawal. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(9):2763-2774.

Kosten TR, O'Connor PG. Management of drug and alcohol withdrawal. N Engl J Med. 2003; 348:1786.

O'Connor, PG. Methods of detoxification and their role in treating patients with opioid dependence. JAMA. 2005; 294:961.

Opioid withdrawal. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated May 20, 2014. Accessed June 19, 2014.

Principles of drug addiction treatment: a research based guide. National Institute of Drug Abuse website. Available at: Updated December 2012. Accessed June 19, 2014.


Revision Information