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Can You Die From Withdrawal? Here’s What You Need to Know

By September 12, 2018 May 12th, 2021 No Comments
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Is your loved one struggling with addiction? It can be heartbreaking to watch them spiral out of control. You may feel as though you are losing them to their drug of choice.

If they’ve admitted they have a problem, now is the perfect time to support them as they seek help. You may think that quitting cold turkey is the best way to go, but there are some real dangers with this method.

Withdrawal is so much more than feeling agitated and craving drugs. Many of the most addictive drugs have similar withdrawal symptoms which come with serious side effects.

But can you die from withdrawal? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the dangers of withdrawal.


Was your loved one once a happy, carefree person? You may have never thought depression would affect them. However, depression is a very common symptom for those in withdrawal.

A sad but true fact is that drugs affect a person’s brain function and structure. This causes an increased risk of depression, self-harm, and suicide.

If you’re asking, “can you die from opiate withdrawal,” the answer is yes. While depression is a common side effect for any type of drug withdrawal, it is usually most sever for those in withdrawal from opiates. In fact, it is associated with a 75% increase in suicide attempts.


Vomiting and diarrhea are common during withdrawal. This may not seem so serious- after all, lots of things can cause those symptoms. However, there is an underlying risk here.

The body is purging itself and losing a lot of fluids during this time. If your loved one isn’t replenishing themselves by drinking enough water, they could die from dehydration. It’s vital that someone is with a person in withdrawal to ensure they are getting enough fluids.

Hallucinations and Paranoia

You may have noticed that your loved one started acting strangely as drug addiction took over their life. Your primary hope is probably that they’ll revert back into their former self as soon as they stop taking drugs.

While they’ll get there eventually, it won’t happen during withdrawal. Many drug withdrawals can cause hallucinations or paranoia. Your loved one may see or hear things that aren’t there, and they may think they are in danger even though no threat is present.

But can you die from withdrawals because of this? Sadly, you can. Hallucinations and paranoia may cause a person to act irrationally. They may try to run away from the perceived danger or put themselves in other risky situations due to this.

Not only could this result in injury or death for your loved one, but it could put others at risk too. For example, they may try to fight you because they think you are trying to hurt them. This is one of the many reasons the safe, professional environment of an addiction treatment center is the best option for someone who is in withdrawal.

Clouded Judgement

Unfortunately, hallucinations and paranoia aren’t the only things that can cloud a person’s judgment while in withdrawal. Withdrawal can cause intense negative feelings and many people begin to feel emotionally distraught.

This can lead them to partake in risky behaviors, such as sharing needles, self-harming, or being involved in other criminal activities. There are different risks depending on what situations they get into. But there is a higher risk of injury, disease, and death accompanied with many of them.


As mentioned previously, drug abuse can alter a person’s brain. While using drugs, withdrawal symptoms can begin to show a few hours after the last dose. After a while, users may begin to seek out drugs to dull the discomfort of withdrawal rather than to get high.

Withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting and muscle aches will appear over a few days, making them feel more and more uncomfortable. The first reaction will be to seek out drugs to make them feel better.

People relapsing during withdrawal will often take the dosage they used to take pre-detox. However, a person’s tolerance diminishes quickly after they stop using. Taking their old dosage leads to a higher risk of overdosing, which can result in death if not treated quickly enough.


When asking, “can you die from withdrawal,” you may not have realized that seizures were a possible risk. While not the most common side effect, they can be very dangerous if they do occur.

Seizures present numerous physical dangers. A rehab facility may be the best option to keep them safe and minimize the risk of harm from seizures.

Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium

Because alcohol is such a common substance, many people don’t realize how dangerous alcoholic withdrawal can be. But there is a particular set of symptoms to be aware of.

Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium (also called Delirium Tremens) is the most dangerous form of alcohol withdrawal and can cause severe damage to the brain and nervous system. It can lead to seizures and high fevers which, in extreme cases, can result in death. About 3-5% of alcoholics in withdrawal will experience delirium tremens, but its high mortality rate makes is a serious concern.

Can You Die from Withdrawal?

So, can you die from withdrawal? The short answer is “yes.” There are many symptoms that could lead to death if a person in withdrawal is not properly treated. For this reason, rehab centers are the best way to allow your loved one to remain safe while going through withdrawal.

Did you find this helpful? Please visit our blog for more informative articles like this.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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