Illicit Drug Withdrawal Symptoms
Illicit drugs can vary in their purity and are often mixed with other substances, increasing the health risks for users. Withdrawing from illicit drugs without medical help is extremely painful and sometimes life-threatening. Learn more about the dangers of illicit drug withdrawal and how to get the proper treatment to safely end an addiction.
Find more information about prominent illicit drugs including:
- Heroin: A powerful opiate, drug users often turn to heroin after becoming addicted to prescription painkillers. Compared to other drugs, heroin is cheaper and more readily available. Users smoke, snort and inject heroin to obtain its euphoric and depressive effects. Heroin poses a high risk for overdose, and its withdrawal symptoms are severe. As authorities have worked to limit the abuse of prescription drugs, heroin use has skyrocketed in the United States.
- Kratom: A herbal drug, Kratom is known to induce feelings of euphoria and stimulation and other opiate-like effects, which makes it attractive to users who want to end opiate or opioid addiction. Some people promote kratom as a natural way to manage opiate withdrawal. However, if used for an extended period, kratom can be dangerous and addictive. For this reason, several US states have banned the drug.
- Meth (Crystal, Ice, Chalk): A potent stimulant, meth gives users increased energy and pleasure, but it is highly addictive, and prolonged use can have devastating effects on the body. Withdrawal from meth is more psychological than physical, causing many users who wish to stop to returning to the drug within days. It can be snorted, smoked, injected, and consumed in a liquid form. After spiking in popularity about a decade ago, meth use is on the decline. However, meth addiction remains a serious issue in certain regions of the US, namely the Southwest.
- Cocaine (Coke, Blow): Commonly known as a party drug, cocaine is a stimulant that is often combined with alcohol. Most users snort cocaine, but it can also be injected and smoked as crack. The euphoric effects of cocaine fade quickly, causing many users to binge on the drug. Cocaine can be highly addictive and lead to serious psychological withdrawal symptoms.
- Crack (Rocks, Base): Crack is a form of cocaine that is smoked to produce an intense but short high. Users and dealers cook powder cocaine to form a solid “rock”-like form. It is highly addictive, far more so than powder cocaine. Its withdrawal symptoms are similar to cocaine, but often more intense. Use of crack has subsided since peaking in the 1980s, but crack is still one of the leading substances that bring people into drug treatment.
- MDMA (Molly, Ecstasy, E): MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine) is a psychoactive drug commonly associated with rave culture and electronic dance music. It produces euphoria and increased empathy, but it can have adverse health effects like severe dehydration and increase heart rate. Prolonged MDMA use can lead to psychological problems like anxiety and memory loss. Normally, it is taken in pill form, but it is also snorted and smoked. Its withdrawal symptoms are more psychological than physical.
- Marijuana (Weed, Cannabis, Pot): Although the recreational use of marijuana is now legal in several states, including Colorado and Washington, the drug is still illegal in most of the US. Marijuana is a plant that users smoke, often resulting in euphoric feelings and increased appetite. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychotropic compound found in marijuana, can also be added to foods and candies–called “edibles.” Marijuana is not considered physically addictive but can have serious psychological effects on users. Prolonged use can also cause memory problems, increased anxiety, and respiratory ailments.
- Flakka: An inexpensive street drug rising in popularity, flakka is a synthetic version of amphetamine-like drugs called cathinones. Most often sold as a powder or crystallized rock form, flakka is chemically similar but more potent than bath salts, another popular synthetic drug. The effects of flakka are comparable to that of crystal meth, including increased energy and euphoria, and it can be just as addictive.
- Synthetic Marijuana: Synthetic cannabinoids–known commonly by names such as Spice, K2, and Scooby Snax–are man-made chemicals that manufacturers claim mimic the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychotropic compound found in marijuana. These chemicals are sprayed on plants and the final product is touted as a “legal high” from “fake weed” or “fake pot.”