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What Is Withdrawal?



Withdrawal is a term referring to the feelings of discomfort, distress, and intense craving for a substance that occurs when use of the substance is stopped. These physical symptoms take place because the body had become metabolically adapted to the substance. The withdrawal symptoms can range from mild discomfort resembling the flu to severe withdrawal that can actually be life threatening.

There are five basic stages of withdrawal:

  1. Withdrawal Stage: This first stage lasts up to 15 days and may be accompanied by fatigue, pain, anxiety, and depression.

  2. Honeymoon Stage: During the second stage, a period begins that is the opposite of withdrawal. The honeymoon stage is often accompanied by feelings of energy, optimism, and confidence.

  3. The Wall Stage: Eventually, the over-optimism of the honeymoon stage wears off. This is the time when most relapses occur due to the reemergence of feelings of anxiety and depression.

  4. Adjustment Stage: The next stage is a period of realization and acceptance that change is a lifelong struggle.

  5. Resolution Stage: The final stage of withdrawal occurs after six months of sobriety or abstinence.


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