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What Pain is Associated with Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal?

When someone is detoxing from substance abuse and addiction, many symptoms can accompany it, with pain being one of them. Learn about the different pains you may experience if going through withdrawal and how to minimize them so that you can continue on your recovery.

Pains with Drug Withdrawal

The pains you can experience while going through alcohol or drug withdrawal and detox are varied and depends on these factors: the person, the drug, and how long you take it. The symptoms, therefore, could be mild to severe in these six following physical areas:
  • Skin
  • Head
  • Chest
  • Heart
  • GI
  • Muscles
Read more about what types of symptoms affect these areas.

Six Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

It’s not entirely clear why the above areas are so affected by withdrawal. Some professionals state that because pain originates in the brain and when you abuse painkillers, especially, it shuts down those chemicals, so the brain’s natural painkillers–endorphins–decrease. This means you feel more pain during detoxing.


Sweating and tingling don’t necessarily cause pain unless the tingling is a pins and needles type that affects the nerves. However, these symptoms are good because you’re sweating out the toxins your body has slowly been poisoned by. Sweating can also accompany GI symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea.


These types of symptoms may seem scary when you’re detoxing from drugs or alcohol and include feeling chest tightness and difficulty breathing. These are also the byproducts of anxiety, which can cause intense tension throughout your body. It’s essential that if these symptoms continue or worsen to get checked out by a doctor.


The primary symptoms in this area include headaches and feeling dizzy or lightheaded. Depending on how fast you detox, they can range from mild to severe, so it’s best to slowly detox from drugs and alcohol.


Withdrawal can affect the heart, in that it produces a racing heart, skipped beats, and palpitations; it can also increase tension and pain in that area as well.


Probably the most uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms include your gastrointestinal system. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach aches are very common, and just the effects of experiencing them can cause pain since they involve your stomach muscles.


When detoxing from painkillers, physical muscle pain may be worse since the drug was masking pain. Once you go through withdrawal, your brain sends signals to the body that it needs more of the drug to stop the pain, which results from an increase in pain when it doesn’t get it. Also, tremors and the shakes are typical when detoxing, as well as muscle tension from the anxiety and stress of going through these sensations.

How To Minimize Pain From Withdrawal

If these physical pains bother you, there are ways to help minimize the effects. For muscle pain, hot and ice packs can help, along with hot baths, muscle cream, and low doses of a common over-the-counter painkiller, such as Ibuprofen and Tylenol (depending on what your doctor suggests). Also, practicing mindfulness or being present, and breathing deeply can help decrease stress and anxiety. Again, if these symptoms are more than a little bothersome, talk with your doctor about ways to help counter these effects.  

Ardu Recovery Center Helps

If you or a loved one is ready to take the step in recovering from drugs or alcohol but are concerned about these symptoms, take heart. Our staff has experience in dealing with the effects of withdrawal and can help you cope with these symptoms. Our customized programs give you what you need so that you can reclaim your life.