The term “withdrawal” related to drugs and alcohol is most often associated with heroin or other powerful opioid medications. The physical reactions that a person experience’s when they are unable to use a substance that causes physical dependency, such as heroin or fentanyl, or OxyContin.


Withdrawal, or drug withdrawal syndrome or substance withdrawal syndrome, is the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that occur upon the abrupt discontinuation or decrease in the intake of certain substances, which can be used medicinally or recreationally. As an example, if a regular user of heroin abruptly stops using heroin, they begin to have both physical and mental symptoms, such as hot and cold sweats, muscle aches, and anxiety.


Almost all drugs and alcohol, when used regularly or daily, will cause some level of physical, mental, or emotional withdrawal symptoms. However, as some drugs are different, withdrawal symptoms from drugs differ from each substance. Additionally, the different withdrawal symptoms can be different from person-to-person, based on the amount of substance used, the regularity, other substances that may be used simultaneously, or a person’s biological and genetic makeup.


And while some withdrawal symptoms make the individual feel like they are dying, there are withdrawals from certain substances that can be extremely dangerous and fatal. Here are the drugs that can cause fatal withdrawal symptoms:



Severe alcohol withdrawal can cause hallucinations, seizures, or Delirium Tremens (DTs.) All three of these can cause medical complications that lead to death, but the most severe are the DTs that can directly lead to a fatal withdrawal, and often occur 2-to-3 days after an individual’s last drink. Other indirect causes of death from alcohol withdrawal are fatal falls or accidents that occur when an individual suffers hallucinations, seizures, or Delirium Tremens.



Benzodiazepines, which are a class of drugs such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan, are depressants that can cause fatal withdrawal symptoms. While some people purchase benzos illegally, most benzo substance misuse comes from prescribed medication that is either abuse, misused, or just continued for a long period of time. They are often prescribed to treat issues such as anxiety and panic disorders. The withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines can cause medical and psychological issues, and can include sensory distortions, seizures, paranoia, and delirium. Benzodiazepine withdrawal seizures can be fatal.



Most people do not think that opioid withdrawal symptoms can be fatal, and often, they are not. While many individuals report that withdrawals from opioids make them feel like they have the “flu times 100” or that they feel like they “want to die”, most often withdrawal symptoms from opioids are painfully uncomfortable but not life-threatening. However, in severe cases, certain withdrawal symptoms from opioids can be fatal. This includes vomiting and diarrhea, which can cause dehydration and lead to a fatal overdose. Opioids withdrawal can also be fatal if an individual chokes on their own vomit, which can cause death by asphyxiation.


For all withdrawal symptoms from drugs and alcohol, whether that can be fatal or not, it is important to seek round-the-clock medical care and support. It is vital that medical personnel are able to monitor the patient as they go through symptoms of withdrawal, and can appropriately support them with medications, clinical approaches, and emotional support. Here at Innovo Detox, we understand that regardless of the drugs and alcohol an individual is using, they often are in for a fairly uncomfortable withdrawal, so the need for medical detox is paramount in the beginning of a journey of overcoming their addiction. The fear of withdrawal and thoughts of withdrawal discomfort can keep someone using or misusing substances for many years. Therefore, we want to make sure that we offer all the available comfort and support to help someone detox safely and comfortably, to free them from the deadly grips of drugs and alcohol and help them begin a journey of freedom from addiction.


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at [email protected]. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at