7 Ways To Manage Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Written by
Clinical Psychiatrist
Special Counsel
According to the World Drug Report on the United Nations website, over 30 million people worldwide suffer from drug addiction. Thankfully, drug addiction treatment centres, rehabilitation centres, and addiction recovery support groups are now more widely available for people seeking help and treatment. These organizations aim to help addicted individuals stop seeking or using drugs. Most importantly, their goal is to help these people return to their normal and productive lives. (1)

However, a common challenge one faces when going through treatment is drug withdrawal. When someone’s addicted to drugs, the chemical makeup of their brain changes, making them more dependent on the substance. As a result, they may experience drug withdrawal symptoms when they decide to stop partaking in drugs. (2)

So, what is drug withdrawal meaning, and why does withdrawal happen?

Drug Withdrawal Definition

Drug withdrawal is essentially the physiological response to the sudden stopping of drug usage after the body has grown dependent on the substance. The intensity, type, and duration of withdrawal symptoms may depend on the drug used. When left unmanaged, these drug withdrawal symptoms can be harmful or even life-threatening. (2)

Some side effects of drug withdrawal are:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • Irritability and paranoia
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heart rate
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Appetite fluctuations

For their safety, people experiencing withdrawal symptoms should undergo drug withdrawal treatment with the help of trained professionals and medical detox.

Ways To Manage Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Besides professional help, there are other strategies to help one deal with withdrawal symptoms. Here are seven ways to manage drug withdrawal symptoms successfully.

1. Sign up for a rehabilitation program for a medical detox treatment

Perhaps the most recommended option to manage your drug withdrawal symptoms is signing up for a rehabilitation program. The purpose of a rehabilitation centre is to provide patients with the best treatment for addiction and withdrawal symptoms. For recovering addicts, they can provide medical detox treatment. The patients are given medications for their withdrawal symptoms, like a drug withdrawal sedative, and around-the-clock supervision.

This is recommended, especially for patients who only recently decided to quit drugs. Medical detox treatment can last for a few days to several months, depending on the severity of the symptoms. So, if you start to crave drugs or experience other withdrawal symptoms, you can join a rehab program and receive 24/7 assistance from professionals. To know how much does drug rehab cost in Australia, you may contact one of the rehab facilities for more information. Usually, it can cost around AUD$7,000 to AUD$30,000 a month. (3)

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2. Be proactive and exercise regularly

Common symptoms of drug withdrawal are anxiety, restlessness, and unpredictable mood changes. One way to help you overcome these is by being proactive and exercising regularly. Exercise can help boost the production of endorphins, which helps restore the brain’s chemical balance. Furthermore, it can help relieve stress and tension, and minimize the risk of relapse. Even a simple daily walk can help strengthen your physical health and stabilize your mental health during withdrawal. (2)

3. Eat nutritious meals

A good diet is essential for overall wellness. Thus, focus on eating nutritious and well-balanced meals. Healthy foods rich in vitamins, proteins, and nutrients can help restore your brain and body’s normal functioning, which may have been damaged by drug use. These nutritious meals can also help minimize the effects of withdrawal symptoms and expedite your healing. (2)

Additionally, it’s recommended that you refrain from eating fatty, processed, and fried foods, along with caffeine, oils, and refined sugars. These unhealthy products may only worsen your condition.

Overall, a well-nourished mind and body are less likely to feel anxious, depressed, or irritable, and can minimize the risk of relapse.

4. Stay hydrated

Feeling constantly thirsty or dehydrated is also common during drug withdrawal. Hence, aside from eating healthy, you should also drink a lot of water to promote healing. If you start to crave drugs, drinking more water could help reduce or stave off these urges, as it helps with faster detoxification. (4)

5. Create a structured sleep schedule

Drug withdrawal may disrupt your sleeping patterns or cause insomnia. Though difficult, try to follow a good sleeping habit to minimize such issues. You can try to create a structured sleeping schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Doing this will help your body get used to a routine and consequently follow a healthy sleep schedule. Most importantly, getting enough sleep every night can help improve mood swings and minimize cravings.

6. Join a support group for recovering addicts

You might feel alone or misunderstood as you undergo drug withdrawal, as there may be people who will question your symptoms or your feelings. This feeling of isolation might trigger you and cause you to relapse. Thus, it’s important to let yourself be surrounded by supportive and encouraging people.

One way you can do this is by joining peer support groups for recovering addicts. In doing so, you get to meet people who understand your experiences and who can give you helpful advice on how to overcome withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse.

7. Talk to your therapist or counsellor regularly

Bottling up your emotions, especially during withdrawal, can only worsen and put you at risk of relapse. Communicating can help you externalise your feelings, thoughts, and any difficulties you’re experiencing. While you can reach out to friends or family, it’s also ideal to have a therapist or counsellor whom you can meet with regularly. They can help turn your negative thoughts and self-criticism into positive ones and alter any self-destructive patterns you might have.

Key Takeaway

Rebounding from drug addiction is a long process, and it’s even harder when you deal with drug withdrawal symptoms. Thankfully, with the above tips, as well as the help of loved ones and professionals, you can overcome the symptoms and successfully recover from drug addiction.



  1. “How Effective Is Drug Addiction Treatment?”, Source: https://nida.nih.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-effective-drug-addiction-treatment
  2. “What Is Withdrawal?”, Source: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-withdrawal-how-long-does-it-last-63036
  3. “Drug Rehab”, Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-02/drug-rehab-what-works-and-what-to-keep-in-mind-when-choosing/9718124
  4. “The Importance Of Hydration During Addiction Recovery”, Source: https://www.bioscience.com.pk/topics/alcohol-addiction-and-illegal-drugs/item/1317-the-importance-of-hydration-during-addiction-recovery
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