Withdrawal

Last Updated: June 29, 2018

Definition - What does Withdrawal mean?

Withdrawal refers to a set of symptoms a person may experience after they stop using an addictive substance. Withdrawal may include both physical and neurological effects as the body responds to the loss of a substance upon which it had become dependent. Medications, illicit drugs, and even ingredients found in foods can all trigger withdrawal symptoms when a person stops consuming them.

The effects of withdrawal are often magnified when an individual abruptly stops taking an addictive substance.

WorkplaceTesting explains Withdrawal

Depending on whether an addiction is severe or mild, neurological or physical, the symptoms of withdrawal from a substance will vary. For instance, a person who consumes caffeine regularly may experience headaches, anxiety, or a lack of focus if they abruptly stop consuming the substance. In contrast, a person who ceases the long-time use of an opiate drug may experience psychological symptoms including anxiety and agitation, as well as physical symptoms such as vomiting, sweating, and abdominal cramps.

Some medications such as steroids require users to taper off, or slowly reduce the dosage of the medication over time, to prevent the effects of withdrawal and certain substances can have withdrawals severe enough to risk death with sudden stoppage. Other drug or alcohol addictions may require a combination of physical and therapeutic treatment during the withdrawal phase.

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