There’s no doubt people get anxious when they think about having to go through withdrawal from a drug. Some withdrawal symptoms can be quite uncomfortable, and some can be downright horrible. However, in order to get free from drug addiction, you’ve got to go through the withdrawal or detox phase.  It helps when you educate yourself on the withdrawal process, including knowing which, if any, drugs can cause death during withdrawal. This is something we’ll discuss in this article.

Can Drug Withdrawal Cause Death?

When someone is addicted to a drug, it can be debilitating and cause a lot of problems in life. Sometimes these issues can result in death due to overdose – but what about death during the withdrawal period? Quitting cold turkey may sound like the ideal thing to do, but it can come with problems of its own.

Depending on the type of drug you’ve been using, and how long you’ve used it, withdrawal can be fairly safe or extremely dangerous. It is always a good idea to seek help and assistance from a medical professional, and there is a good reason for this. It is much safer to go through withdrawal under the care of trained clinicians that can monitor your health and ease withdrawal symptoms, as well as help you through detox.

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, it is essential to know what drugs may cause death during withdrawal. We always advise you to seek the help of substance abuse professionals when you want to get off any drug. However, if you’re going to try to detox at home, it’s best that you learn as much as you can about detox safety, and create a curated, safe, and effective recovery plan.

Now, let’s look at various drugs and the severity of withdrawal symptoms you may experience when detoxing from them.


Opiates include heroin, pain pills, and other drugs that are derived from opium. In recent years, the United States declared that overdose from opioids had been a crisis – a public health emergency and still is today. In two years, more than 15,000 people died from a heroin overdose.


Heroin is a widely abused opioid derived from morphine. It can be sniffed, injected, or smoked. The drug binds itself to opioid receptors that are associated with feelings of pleasure, as well as pain. Side effects of heroin abuse include:

  • Skin abscesses
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Lung problems
  • Pneumonia
  • Collapse veins
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Stomach cramping
  • Irregular menstrual cycles

Withdrawal starts within six to 12 hours after last using heroin. The worst symptoms typically occur within three days, and then they lessen over the next five to seven days. However, some people may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms that can last up to two years after the individual has stopped use of the drug. Symptoms of post-acute withdrawal symptoms, or PAWS, include:

  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Lowered control of impulses
  • Anxiety

Individuals experiencing withdrawal symptoms of heroin may have to deal with:

  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps or spasms
  • Irritability
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps
  • Abdominal cramps

Can Heroin Detox Cause Death?

When withdrawal symptoms are severe enough, death can occur. The severity of symptoms experienced with withdrawal depends on your overall health, as well as the duration of use of the drug. If severe vomiting occurs, as well as diarrhea, severe dehydration can lead to high sodium levels that can result in heart failure.


Morphine is used medically to manage pain by affecting the receptors that are linked to the spinal cord and brain, decreasing sensations of pain, as well as emotional responses to pain. When dependence forms, it can become deadly. Morphine is in the top list of drugs with high abuse and addiction rates and has the highest instance of overdose associated with opiates.

Morphine dependence has some unpleasant side effects, such as:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Circulatory issues
  • Respiratory problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Nausea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Dehydration

Morphine withdrawal symptoms can start within 12 hours of the last use of the drug. Common symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Sweating
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Muscle aches
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Increased blood pressure

Can Morphine Detox Cause Death?

The severity of withdrawal symptoms is conditional to how dependent you are on the drug. Quitting without medical help can result in seizures, extreme agitation, muscle aches and pains, tremors, and possibly death.


Alcohol is sold widely across the world, but it can be the source of an extremely dangerous addiction that has several unpleasant side effects and withdrawal symptoms. When individuals are addicted to alcohol, they become dependent and require more alcohol to feel the impact of their drinking. Signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Declining performance in school or work
  • Inability to control drinking
  • Failure to stop drinking when it is attempted
  • Depression
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms

Short and long-term effects of alcohol abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of memory
  • Breathing problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma
  • Liver disease
  • Ulcers
  • Brain damage
  • Certain kinds of cancer
  • Heart problems
  • Weakened immune system

While some people may be able to stop drinking abruptly, others may not be able to do so without highly unpleasant consequences. When alcohol dependence has formed, and alcohol has been abused for a long time, alcohol withdrawal syndrome can become severe. When symptoms are severe, individuals may experience any of the following:

  • Extreme nausea
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

Can Alcohol Detox Cause Death?

Coming off alcohol can be really tough for heavy drinkers. It’s always recommended to seek professional help when detoxing from drinking because of the severity of some withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, death can occur, especially when seizures or DTs occur.


Experts state that detoxing from benzos can be extremely challenging. Of course, the severity of symptoms will depend on the dosage and time frame of addiction.  The biggest withdrawal risk that could end in death is the risk of grand mal seizures. Almost as risky is the psychological torment some face, which can cause suicidal thoughts. Always seek professional help when trying to come off benzos.

How to Detox Safely

If you or a loved one are seeking help for substance abuse and would like more information about how withdrawal can affect you, visit a medical facility to speak with professionals that can assist you. At a residential rehabilitation center, you’ll be surrounded by addiction specialists who can help you get through detox safely.

It can be tempting to hold onto the belief that quitting on your own is a good idea. However, it is always better to have clinicians, counselors, and other medical professionals help you.

“Managing withdrawal symptoms successfully can be done in a safe place where you or your loved one will be monitored by licensed and trained professionals with experience managing detox and withdrawal symptoms. ”

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