Can Withdrawals Bring on Serious Medical Issues?

The short answer is yes, withdrawal symptoms can result in some very serious mental and medical issues. What most people don’t realise is feeling withdrawal from a substance is not isolated to drugs like heroin and cocaine. You can experience withdrawals from alcohol, marijuana, even caffeine. What really determines the severity of the withdrawals depends on two things. One, the substance, and two, the type of withdrawal. 

Protracted vs acute withdrawal

There are two main types of withdrawal symptoms, acute and protracted. Acute withdrawal symptoms are the initial symptoms experienced after discontinuing a substance. The type of acute withdrawal varies from substance to substance, but usually, it feels like the opposite of the high produced by the substance being abused. Protracted withdrawal on the other hand includes the less immediate effects that come with quitting. 

Protracted withdrawal medical issues

Out of the two, protracted withdrawal symptoms tend to be less severe, but are just as serious. After continued heavy substance abuse, it is common for addicts to lose intellectual capability, memory retention, emotional stability, and more. One thing that a lot of recovering addicts have in common is a loss of libido. For many, sex without the use of drugs isn’t enough. Other factors like increased stress or emotional unbalance from quitting also play a role in the loss of sex drive. The most recognizable protracted withdrawal symptoms are the physical ones. Headaches, trembling, night sweats, exhaustion are just a few of the many physical symptoms of withdrawal and they can all occur alongside one another.

Acute withdrawal medical issues

Acute withdrawal symptoms are often very severe for the individual and are best managed by a trained medical professional. These symptoms are brought on by abruptly stopping usage of an addictive or prescription substance, and these effects can last from days to weeks depending on the dependency. 

Breakdown by substance

Every substance is unique and each person experiences withdrawal differently, but generally speaking, acute withdraws tend to be the opposite of the high produced by the substance. Here is a list of just a few of the different symptoms for some popularly abused substances. 


  • Hyperactivity
  • Anxiety and tremors
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens (in less than 5 percent of individuals)


  • Double or blurry vision
  • Headache
  • Body pains
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Disorientation and dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fever or chills
  • Decreased muscular control
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hallucination


  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Fever or chills
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes

Addiction Treatment Network Havertown, PA

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or needs support in the battle with substance abuse, here at American Treatment Network, we provide customized integrated health care to care for our patient’s physical and behavioral needs in one central location. If you want to learn more, or look into making an appointment, click here to get started today. 


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