Many drugs and substances cause intense withdrawal symptoms. From headaches and nausea to psychotic symptoms and liver damage, the symptoms of withdrawal run a huge spectrum of unpleasant experiences. Each substance causes withdrawal symptoms in their own way, and we’re going to cover a few of the worst drug withdrawal symptoms out there.
These are our opinions and are not medical fact or a completely objective truth. The amount of use, length of use, and individual body chemistry may impact the severity of symptoms of any withdrawal process.
1. Benzodiazepine Withdrawal
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs known as tranquilizers. As a central nervous system depressant, benzodiazepines are most often prescribed to treat seizure and anxiety disorders. Some of the more commonly used benzos include Klonopin®, Xanax®, Valium®, and Librium®. Although they are prescribed medications for serious conditions, many people abuse benzodiazepines for their relaxing effects and reducing of anxiety
Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms may include headaches, nausea, memory loss, depression, and seizures. Without proper medical attention, detox from benzodiazepines can be fatal. It makes #1 in our list of worst drug withdrawals because it is one of the hardest prescription drugs to quit, the detoxification process can kill you, and relapse rates are high due to the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
If you or somebody you know is thinking of coming off a benzodiazepine medication, please seek proper medical help! Even if you’ve been taking the medication as prescribed, you may experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
2. Alcohol Withdrawal
Alcohol withdrawal comes in second on our list. Alcohol may not be seen as a “drug,” but it really is. Many people drink without problem, but there are people who develop dependence or addiction. When this happens, the withdrawal process can be incredibly difficult. We think of alcohol as being relatively harmless, especially when compared to illicit substances. However, alcohol withdrawal is one of the few withdrawal processes that can directly kill a person (with the other being benzodiazepine withdrawal).
Alcohol and benzos both act on the GABA receptors in the brain. When you stop ingesting alcohol, your muscles may seize up, causing seizures and possible death. This level of alcohol withdrawal is generally experienced by those that have been drinking for many years or have been consuming a large amount of alcohol. However, it’s important to know how dangerous alcohol withdrawal can be so you keep yourself safe during the process. Again, please seek medical attention as alcohol detox is one of the worst detoxes a person can go through.
3. Opioid Withdrawal
Although opioid withdrawal cannot directly kill somebody, it can actually be deadly. The symptoms of opioid withdrawal can be incredibly unpleasant. The physical and psychological symptoms can feel unbearable, and people often experience discomfort 24 hours a day for several days. Because of how difficult the detox process is, many people relapse. The fevering, muscle pain, and irritability can make everything feel overwhelming.
Withdrawal from opioids like heroin, morphine, or prescription pills cannot explicitly kill a person. However, there is a high risk of relapse and overdose during this period of initial withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, suicidal ideation is a common symptom of opioid withdrawal. If you or someone you know is withdrawing from opioids, it is highly advisable to do so in a professional detox setting. Through medications, monitoring of vitals, and therapeutic care, the painful symptoms of withdrawal may be minimized by trained clinical staff.
4. Nicotine Withdrawal
Nicotine is another substance on this list that may not be seen as a true drug. However, it made our list because it is a stealth killer and one of the most addictive substances we know of. Furthermore, it’s incredibly hard to quit. The CDC states that over half of smokers tried quitting in 2015. People have a hard time quitting because of how addictive nicotine is and the severe withdrawal symptoms that arise after quitting.
Symptoms of nicotine withdrawal include irritability, nausea/cramping, headache, coughing, sore throat, and powerful cravings. Without help, it can be incredibly difficult to quit smoking. There are support groups, medications, and physicians who have proven helpful in dealing with withdrawal symptoms and staying quit.
It’s not for us to say hands-down what the worst is. What we can say is that withdrawing from drugs is painful and difficult. It’s best to talk to a trained clinician or doctor if we’re able, in order to ensure our own safety and recovery.