The brain is composed of neurons, which are cells that communicate by transferring chemicals called neurotransmitters. When alcohol or drugs are used, the brain's levels of neurotransmitters rise or plummet depending on the effects of the substance. Meanwhile, the flood of excitement, pleasure or relaxation causes the body to decrease the number of sites where the neurotransmitters can plug in. These changes are to blame for tolerance and the withdrawal symptoms that occur when drug or alcohol use is reduced or stopped. Below is more information about drug and alcohol withdrawal. Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms How long withdrawal lasts and the severity of its symptoms depend not only on the substance that was used but also the individual. Physical makeup, metabolism and sensitivity to a drug's effects all can change the nature of withdrawal. However, emotional symptoms are often the most challenging aspect of withdrawal for people who have quit using drugs and alcohol. Mental and emotional symptoms may include restlessness, insomnia, poor concentration, anxiety, irritability and depression. These issues can cause serious problems in many areas of life, including social functioning, job performance and achievement at school. Physical Withdrawal Symptoms All drug withdrawal includes physical symptoms, and the specific types of problems depend on the substances that were used. When alcohol, benzodiazepines and other sedatives are discontinued, rapid heartbeat, tremors and muscle tension result. Severe withdrawal from these substances can also include life-threatening seizures. Opiate withdrawal includes severe gastrointestinal disturbance with nausea, vomiting, acid reflux and diarrhea. Withdrawal from stimulants, such as amphetamines and cocaine, is often characterized by extreme fatigue and uncontrollable appetite for days, weeks or months afterwards. Cravings Last Longer Long after initial symptoms of physical and emotional withdrawal have ended, recovering addicts may suffer extreme cravings in response to reminders of past drug and alcohol abuse. Stress is a common trigger for urges to abuse substances again, but friends, family members, locations and activities can also cause cravings to arise. For recovering alcoholics, a routine trip to the grocery or convenience store can be a test of willpower as beer, wine and liquor are encountered at every turn. Meanwhile, many movies and television shows depict drugs and alcohol and their usage. The Value of Professional Help Although it can be tempting to try to quit drugs and alcohol at home without medical supervision, this can potentially be dangerous or even life threatening if it isn't done properly. When severe, long-term drug addiction is involved, detox and long-term recovery should ideally be handled in a rehab facility that can monitor the recovering addict and help them avoid relapse afterwards. Many facilities use medication to control symptoms of detox and long-term recovery. In any withdrawal from alcohol and drugs, the most challenging part of the process is the emotional addiction and its various psychological components. Although these substances give users feelings of euphoria and peace in the short term, those sensations are reversed as soon as withdrawal sets in. Recognizing the loss of this easy emotional fulfillment, recovering addicts are left to find a natural source of satisfaction in life, which can be difficult. In the end, drug addiction is unhealthy for anybody, and the withdrawal symptoms that emerge after quitting should be assisted by professionals to avoid dangers and support long-term recovery. Please feel free to share any experiences you've had with drug and alcohol withdrawal.