The excessive and abusive consumption of products and substances that create in the individual states of dependence, can cause uncontrollable pathological states.

People, regaining their state of consciousness and wanting to let go of the addiction they have fallen into, can go through a difficult process called withdrawal syndrome.

At this stage the body manifests, according to the type of addiction, a very unpleasant symptomatology that often drives the person to resume the addictive habit.

In the following article, we present what withdrawal is and some ways to control it

What is withdrawal?

The withdrawal syndrome, also known as “mono”, is a manifestation of physical and bodily reactions, which consist of the appearance of a set of symptoms and psychological diseases when a person suddenly stops consuming a substance or if its consumption decreases.

It can appear related to any substance that has the potential to create dependence: alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, cannabis, caffeine, benzodiazepines, among others.

The symptomatology and intensity depend not only on the type of substance, but also on the amount and frequency of previous consumption, being linked to the level of dependence and addiction presented by the subject.

It is a common disease, but if not treated properly it can trigger very serious problems. The worst form of withdrawal syndrome is called “delirium tremens,” a complication that can be very serious.

Causes of withdrawal syndrome

The main cause of the appearance of the withdrawal syndrome is given by the addiction to some type of substance. Here we mention the most common:

Cessation of the consumption of psychoactive substances

The addictive components that certain products such as alcohol, tobacco or cocaine contain act on the brain and Nervous System , in such a way that it creates a dependency towards them.

The organism adapts to the presence of these substances and the brainchanges its structure, believing that it can only function normally if it has these substances. The abrupt cessation of the components that create the addiction, causes the withdrawal syndrome.

Cessation of cigarette smoking

Nicotine addiction occurs when you need it and can’t stop using it. Nicotine is the chemical in tobacco that makes it hard to quit.

Nicotine produces pleasurable effects in the brain, but these effects are temporary. A large percentage of people who decide to quit smoking suffer from nicotine withdrawal syndrome.

This explains why so many people fail in their attempt to quit smoking, since the onset of withdrawal symptoms sometimes overcomes willpower. Its duration is estimated between 4 and 12 weeks.

Reduction or cessation of alcohol consumption

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome occurs in people who consume alcoholic substances regularly and stop consuming it suddenly.

Adult men are more vulnerable to this syndrome and the main symptoms are nervousness, anxiety , agitation, depressed mood, weakness, nightmares and changes in mood.

Alcohol withdrawal can cause serious, life-threatening complications.

Reduction or cessation of drug use

In this case, the symptoms and signs of physical and psychological discomfort appear when the administration of the drug or substance to which the person had developed a dependency is interrupted or significantly reduced.

The onset, duration, and intensity of the symptoms will depend on the substance administered, the doses consumed, and the time elapsed since the last dose.

The ingestion of drugs can cause in the organism, without considering the therapeutic action for which they have been developed, certain consequences in our physical and psychological well-being.

Sudden withdrawal of narcotics such as opium or morphine initially causes rapid breathing accompanied by yawning, tearing, runny nose, and sweating.

Reduction or cessation of coffee consumption

Caffeinedrinkers whohave tried to quit can attest that caffeine causes some degree of psychological and physiological addiction. Caffeine addiction can range from mild to severe, and most of the time it is an addiction that does not disrupt our daily lives or health.

Caffeine, which seems like a benign drug, is now the basis for two official diagnoses in the mental health bible released in May, and a third diagnosis is under consideration.


The American Psychiatric Association , for several years has been studying the relationship between mental health and caffeine withdrawal, a topic that was included in the “Annual Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”

This manual describes caffeine withdrawal as “a syndrome resulting from the abrupt cessation or reduction of caffeine”tag. According toCoffee and Health , few people experience this withdrawal symptom but for those who experience it, it is very difficult.

Withdrawal Symptoms

These symptoms that are described below correspond to the generality. It must be taken into account that there are different types of withdrawal syndromes, each with its own characteristics:

Anxiety, stress and depression

Of the first symptoms that the person who abruptly stops consuming any substance that generates dependency in the body will present, will be present at a psychological level such as anxiety, stress and depression .

This happens because relatively addictive substances generate a sense of calm and relaxation in the brain, and stop supplying the body creates chaos expressed in these psychological disorders.

Headaches and muscle pain

Depending on the type of substance from which the withdrawal syndrome is suffered, other symptoms such as headache and muscle pain appear at the somatic level.

Headaches are frequent, due to the absence of the substance that generates the state of tranquility and relaxation. In the process of withdrawal from caffeine it usually occurs frequently.

If you use sedatives or relaxants to alleviate pain related to the locomotor system, undoubtedly the effect of drug withdrawal will be muscle pain, characteristic of narcotic withdrawal syndrome.

sweating and tremors

Peculiar manifestation in alcohol withdrawal syndrome. It is a severe form of alcohol withdrawal. It involves sudden and intense mental or nervous system changes. In this case,Delirium Tremens occurs with some symptoms such as hand tremor, restlessness, anxiety.

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea

Equally characteristic in alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Delirium tremens is typical of this type of syndrome presenting among its symptoms nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

sleep disturbances

Opioids produce alerting reactions depending on the dose. During the first 3–5 weeks of abstinence, subjects report increasedDream activity and insomnia.

During opioid withdrawal, dreams and REM and delta sleep increase in users. After withdrawal, a period of insomnia lasting several weeks is described. Persistent insomnia can lead to a relapse into drug use.

Nervousness and irritability

Characteristic in caffeine withdrawal syndrome. Caffeine is considered a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system, increasing alertness.

In individuals, caffeine produces a “shot” of energy and a temporary mood lift.

Withdrawal from this drug causes insomnia, extreme anxiety, depression, irritability, concentration problems, and may cause Hallucinations .

fast heart rate

During the withdrawal processes of tobacco, alcohol and drugs is the alteration of the circulatory system.

In panic disorders and states of distress, caused by the abrupt suppression of alcohol and drug consumption especially, it is common to manifest acceleration of the heart rate.

Low concentration

Due to the symptoms generated by withdrawal in its various forms, cognitive processes in the brain are affected or interrupted.


Isolation, more than a cause, is a consequence of different types of syndrome. In states of psychological disorders it is evident as a response of the individual, isolation and separation from the environment that surrounds him.

Types of withdrawal syndrome

Here we refer to the types of withdrawal syndromes according to the way they are presented:


It is a series of physiological and psychological reactions that appear just after immediately interrupting the consumption of an addictive substance. The symptoms depend on the type of psychoactive substances.


It is where the set of sequelae at a physical and psychological level, are still maintained long after having overcome withdrawal.


It comprises a set of symptoms and diseases of a psychological nature, which arise when a person suddenly stops consuming a substance that they have previously abused.

Treatment for withdrawal syndrome

There are various ways of treating withdrawal syndrome in the literature. Here we mention some of them


It is about eliminating the addictive substance out of the body to achieve physical stability.

It must be carried out under the supervision and watchful eye of the doctor and the psychiatrist, since intense discomfort can appear and become dangerous, guaranteeing that the procedure will be carried out safely.

Prescription drugs

Drugs can be prescribed to avoid withdrawal effects and make this process safer and easier.

The use of fluid therapy may also be required in cases of intolerance to food and the severity of the condition. Specialized treatment tries to avoid the appearance of complications.

In this case, medications with proven efficacy are used, trying to ensure that in this situation there is as little rejection as possible.

Psychological therapy

Weaning is carried out in patients who are already detoxified, that is, they do not suffer the effects of withdrawal from the substance.

This stage must be done without hospitalization. It is a process in which the person tries not to return to the consumption of the addictive substance, with psychotherapeutic treatment, with the purpose of getting to live without consuming.

How can withdrawal symptoms be controlled?

There are many ways that can help you control the organic and psychological effects of withdrawal syndrome. Here are some guidelines in this regard:

Drink water or natural juices

Indicated to control the increase in appetite, in the withdrawal stage due to the consumption of amphetamines, cocaine and other stimulants.

Chew gum

In psychological disorders caused by withdrawal syndrome, chewing gum calms anxiety, improves alertness, increases concentration and reduces stress.

As if this were not enough, chewing gum releases the stress hormone called cortisol, which is reduced in saliva by up to 16%.

shower with cold water

Although there is no scientific evidence yet to establish that cold shower therapy can be part of the treatment for depression and anxiety, some experts believe that it can help.

The theory behind that proposal is that repeated exposure to cold water makes the body more effective in dealing with the stress response and with the chemical and hormonal changes that appear with depression.

Do physical activities

The performance of physical activities is indicated as a relaxing therapy in anxiety and depression processes caused by withdrawal syndrome. Additionally, it helps the circulatory and renal system in the detoxification process.

It is a recreational way to entertain yourself, set goals and interact in a different way with the environment. It is recommended to carry out this activity in groups.

Avoid stimulating drinks

Drinks that tend to stimulate the psychomotor apparatus, placing it in a state of permanent alert, should be avoided.

Sleep more at the right times

There is a close interrelationship between sleep processes and a person’s general state of physical and psychological health.

One of the factors that most contribute to achieving this state of physical and psychological well-being is sleep. Sleep is a fundamental biological function of our existence.

It is scientifically proven that the number of hours that should be dedicated to sleep should be between 7 and 9 hours a day.

Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables

Indicated to control withdrawal syndromes due to drugs, stimulants and nicotine. Whenever you feel the urge to smoke, eat fruit or vegetables as a substitute. Have on hand what you like to consume the most.

Avoid loneliness

Recreational activities carried out in groups, in large places and in the open air keep the psychic system entertained, relaxed and active.

Do distracting activities

Cultural activities that involve music, theater, cinema, amusement park, river, mountain among others, help to keep the conscious focused on the reality that surrounds it, are indicated as distraction activities.


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