Symptoms of Withdrawal

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Symptoms of Withdrawal


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (“SAMSHA”), the division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services whose mission it is to address the substance abuse problems in the U.S., has provided a list signs and symptoms associated with withdrawal from various drugs. At Novus, we are dedicated to minimizing these and explain how we do this below.

Signs and Symptoms of the Acute Phase of Alcohol Withdrawal

  • Restlessness, irritability, anxiety, agitation
  • Anorexia (lack of appetite)
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Tremors, elevated heart rate, increased blood pressure
  • Insomnia, intense dreaming, nightmares
  • Impaired concentration, memory, and judgment
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds, alteration in tactile sensations
  • Delirium (disorientation in time, place, situation)
  • Hallucinations (auditory, visual, or tactile)
  • Delusions (usually paranoid)
  • Grand mal seizures (a loss of consciousness, usually with violent muscle contractions)
  • Elevated temperature

Signs and Symptoms of Opiate (e.g. OxyContin or heroin) Withdrawal

Early Signs and Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Increased respiratory rate
  • Sweating
  • Lacrimation (tearing or crying)
  • Yawning
  • Rhinorrhea (runny nose)
  • Piloerection (goosebumps)
  • Restlessness
  • Anorexia
  • Irritability
  • Dilated pupils (larger than normal pupils)

Advanced Signs and Symptoms

  • Insomnia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Hypertension (abnormally high blood pressure)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle and bone pain

Signs and Symptoms of High-Dose Benzodiazepine (e.g. Xanax or Valium) Withdrawal

  • anxiety
  • tremors
  • nightmares
  • insomnia
  • anorexia
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • orthostatic hypotension (low blood pressure when standing)
  • seizures
  • delirium (extreme restlessness, confusion and sometimes delusions)
  • hyperpyrexia (high fever)

Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal from Stimulants (Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, Amphetamines, and Methamphetamines)

  • dysphoria (depression)
  • irritability
  • difficulty sleeping
  • intense dreaming

Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal from Marijuana

There are few signs and symptoms associated with withdrawal from marijuana. Some patients are irritable and have difficulty sleeping for a few days when they discontinue chronic use of marijuana.

Drugs that do not produce withdrawal symptoms

Chronic use of PCP can cause a toxic psychosis that takes days or weeks to clear; however, PCP does not have a withdrawal syndrome. LSD, DMT, and ecstasy do not produce physical dependence.

There is hope for a new life.Call to speak to one of our experienced & caring detox advisors today!


Substance abusers or members of their families often ask our admissions counselors, “What will I feel during my detox at Novus?” There is no definite answer to this question because each of us has unique DNA, therefore the way that we metabolize the abused substance and the way our bodies handle the metabolized substance differ widely. We can only assure our patients that what they experience at Novus will be much less traumatic than anything they would have experienced if they tried to withdraw on their own or at most other facilities.


At Novus we recognize that each of us has different DNA and metabolism. We know that all narcotic painkillers and most everything else we eat and drink are metabolized through the P450 pathway in the liver, while most narcotic painkillers are metabolized with the CYP2D6 enzyme.

We know that as many as 10% of the population don’t even have this enzyme. We also know that as many as 50% of the population metabolize these painkillers either more slowly or faster than normal.

We know that the painkillers are substitutes for the body’s natural activities. For example, the painkillers stimulate the receptors to produce more endorphins. Most people therefore produce less of their own endorphins while taking these painkillers.

Part of the withdrawal process is the time it takes the patient to start to produce endorphins naturally again, which is dictated by the individual’s DNA and is something we carefully monitor.

We know that people withdraw from all drugs differently, and we modify our withdrawal protocols for each person.


Between 60% and 70% of our body is composed of water. All of our organs are composed of cells which are largely fluid. At Novus we find that most of our patients who are dependent or addicted to painkillers are dehydrated and are suffering from vitamin deficiencies. We ensure that our patients are hydrated properly and this, along with individually designed withdrawal protocols, is a major reason that our patients, who have detoxed before, comment that their Novus detox was not only much faster but much more comfortable.


One of the medications used at Novus is buprenorphine, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002. Only doctors approved by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a department in the United States Department of Health and Human Services, are allowed to dispense buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine is an opioid that triggers a response in the body similar to the response triggered by heroin, oxycodone, and morphine. However, unlike heroin, OxyContin® and other frequently abused narcotic painkillers, buprenorphine increases endorphin production only to a certain point and then no longer adds to the effect no matter how large the dose.

At Novus, we use a uniquely compounded form of buprenorphine in a proprietary formula that addresses many of the symptoms of withdrawal and provides for a more comfortable, managed withdrawal.

The medical staff at Novus determine when the opiate-addicted individual is ready for the first dose of buprenorphine to be administered. The reason for this is that if someone who is dependent/addicted to painkillers is not in withdrawal, this means that the painkillers are still activating the receptors in the brain and causing it to produce endorphins.

If you take buprenorphine at this time, it will go to the brain, seek out the painkillers that were producing a certain amount of endorphins, expel them from the receptors, and activate the receptors but to a much lower degree than the painkillers. This results in a drastic drop in endorphin production. This drop in endorphins is what starts the withdrawal.


At Novus, using hydration, natural supplements, good food, and a withdrawal protocol designed specifically for each person, we ensure that the buprenorphine dose is properly tapered so that the person’s natural production of endorphins increases as the buprenorphine is tapered down. Our patients experience a much milder and more comfortable withdrawal than at many other medical detox centers in large part due to our proprietary compounded buprenorphine. When they leave Novus Medical Detox Center, they are off all unnecessary drugs.

There is hope for a new life. Call to speak to one of our experienced & caring detox advisors today!

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