Withdrawal syndrome: what is it and what are its phases

The withdrawal syndrome (SA) refers to the set of physical and mental reactions that occur in a person who suffers from addiction to some substance and suddenly stops consuming it. It is a problem frequently linked to the consumption of psychoactive substances such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and other drugs, with symptoms that can vary from one person to another.

It is not a disease, but a medical condition with the ability to alter the general state of health of a person, being necessary for the patient to go through a rehabilitation process in a detoxification clinic, until the nervous system resumes its normal functioning and dependence on the substances in question is eliminated.

Types of withdrawal syndrome

To a greater or lesser degree of intensity, all patients who go through a detoxification process will go through the phases related to the withdrawal syndrome. These physical and psychological reactions occur from the moment in which the consumption of a psychoactive is interrupted, being of greater or less intensity depending on the type of substance consumed.

  • Late withdrawal. It is characterized by alterations of the nervous system and various physical and mental health problems capable of interfering with the usual routine of patients.
  • Conditioned withdrawal. It appears when the person faces daily situations where they habitually consumed psychoactive substances, which is due to a conditioning process.

Phases of addiction treatment

The withdrawal symptoms and the severity of them will depend on the type of substance that was consumed, as well as the period of time that the person was suffering from the addiction. Generally, the symptoms would be: anxiety, tremors, insomnia, depression, tremors, sweating, dilated pupils, vomiting, hallucinations, confusion, disorientation and tremors.

Although withdrawal symptoms vary from one person to another, addiction treatment follows a scheme that we can divide into three phases:


Refers to the process of remove drugs and alcohol from the body without himself missing the substance. This is done under strict medical supervision and following personalized procedures. When this phase develops safely, the patient will be able to avoid developing withdrawal symptoms, eliminating the associated complications.


After detoxification, it is tried that the person does not consume the psychoactive drug that causes the addiction again. For this, a psychotherapeutic treatment is necessary that allows the patient to understand that he can and should live without consuming, allowing him to develop healthier habits and improving his psychosocial performance.


It is the process of consolidation of the change produced in the patient. Here we work on the goals, plans and projects for the future, celebrating the achievements in the fight against addiction and allowing the patient to commit to the new life that is on the horizon. It is a crucial phase that requires coordinated work with family and friends.

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