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Can You Die From
Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawals are a difficult but necessary step in any recovery journey. Symptoms can be scary and traumatic, leaving many to wonder if halting their substance use can lead to death. That’s why it’s important to learn how to categorize the different types of withdrawals and identify the dangers.

The conditions listed below are characteristic of a user who quits cold turkey. This means an individual abruptly terminates the use of an addictive substance that had previously been used consistently. In most cases, symptoms are less severe when a user is slowly weaned off of a substance. But this still comes with risks depending on the severity of the addiction and the drug(s).

Alcohol

Chronic alcoholism comes with physical dependence. If an alcoholic suddenly stops drinking, the withdrawal symptoms can be devastating but not deadly in most cases. Withdrawal usually lasts about three to four days at most.

Alcohol is a depressant that has a relaxing effect on the body. But in extreme cases of withdrawal, the reverse can happen, resulting in full-body tremors. Obviously, this would be uncomfortable and quite taxing on the body but perfectly survivable. Some other common symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea/Vomiting 

In very rare cases where alcoholism is severe, complications could be fatal if not accompanied by professional preventative treatment. Serious symptoms to look out for include hallucinations, seizures, status epilepticus, and delirium tremens. The latter is the most dangerous as it can lead to death. It often occurs two to three days after the last drink and symptoms include fever, rapid breathing, stupor, and loss of consciousness. If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. 

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are a depressant used to treat anxiety, seizures, and sleep disorders. They are more commonly recognized by brand names like Valium and Xanax or by street names like “benzos.” Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be deadly depending on the duration and severity of the addiction. Some symptoms to look out for include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Issues with Memory/Concentration
  • Body aches 

Life-threatening complications are similar to Alcoholism but can also include kidney failure. Additionally, benzodiazepine withdrawal lasts significantly longer with the most severe cases lasting several weeks. It is highly recommended that an individual facing benzodiazepine withdrawal seek the professional support of a detox center. 

Opioids

Opioids are a highly addictive depressants most commonly recognized as heroin, fentanyl, morphine, etc. Withdrawal is not life-threatening but the symptoms can be uncomfortable and difficult to manage. Some symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Muscle Cramping
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Hot/Cold Flashes

The most dangerous aspect of opioid withdrawal is the threat of relapse. Because opioids are highly addictive and withdrawal is so devastating, many individuals find it difficult to abstain from relapse. 

Safe, Controlled Withdrawal with Briarwood

Briarwood Detox Center offers medically assisted detox programs for individuals to safely withdraw from substances like alcohol, benzodiazepines, opioids, and more. If you or a loved one are looking to begin the journey of recovery, Briarwood is committed to providing support every step of the way. Additionally, we have detox locations in Austin, Houston, and Colorado Springs with facilities outfitted for safe, controlled withdrawal. Call (512) 265 – 5992 to learn more about what Briarwood Detox Center can do for you.

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