Understanding Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

When it comes to addiction and dependence, most people are aware of the physical symptoms of withdrawal. Frequently referred to as dope sickness, withdrawal is one of the most common obstacles that prevents people from staying sober.

Withdrawal symptoms can range in severity from rather mild to extremely serious and potentially fatal. However, when most people think about withdrawal symptoms, they are thinking of the physical symptoms. Lesser-known are the psychological symptoms of withdrawal.

Psychological withdrawal symptoms may sound less intense. However, this is not always the case. On top of that, psychological withdrawal symptoms can persist for many months or even years after physical withdrawal has finished.

This article will explore some of the psychological withdrawal symptoms that you may experience if you suddenly stop using drugs. Addiction treatment San Diego can help you manage these issues.

What Are Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms?

Psychological withdrawal symptoms are those which affect your state of mind. They can range from mild anxiety to full-blown psychosis. Here are some common psychological withdrawal symptoms.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood instability
  • Irritability
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty thinking, distorted thoughts
  • Flashbacks
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion and brain fog’

Psychological withdrawal symptoms can occur for a number of reasons. Addiction treatment San Diego can help you manage these symptoms.

Causes of Psychological Withdrawal

Some psychological withdrawal symptoms can be the result of biological processes. When you are using drugs, your mind and body will become dependent on these substances in order to function.

When you stop using these drugs, your body will struggle to get back to a state of balance. During this time, people will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Psychological withdrawal symptoms, for example, can be caused by an imbalance of GABA.

GABA is a neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining our mental health. It works by balancing out the action of excitatory neurotransmitters.

Excitatory neurotransmitters, such as glutamate, are known to be stimulating. Glutamate in particular is responsible for helping your nerve cells communicate, as well as for influencing memory and learning.

However, when the body doesn’t produce enough GABA to balance the effects of glutamate, you can experience a glutamate rebound. Some of the symptoms of this include anxiety, agitation, irritability, and other cognitive difficulties.

Psychological withdrawal symptoms can also occur because of the changes that occur in your brain when you develop an addiction. As you continue to use drugs, you may start to believe that you need them to function. You may also develop issues with shame, guilt, resentment, or any number of other emotions.

When you suddenly stop using drugs, these cognitive changes will become very apparent. Some of these cognitive changes have very little to do with the drug itself and are more the result of behavior patterns and beliefs that were developed in the midst of addiction.


Addiction withdrawal symptoms can be very serious. Psychological withdrawal symptoms can be just as debilitating as physical ones. Understanding the nature of psychological withdrawal symptoms can help you stay focused as you start your journey to recovery.

If you are concerned about withdrawal symptoms, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a rehab facility. Addiction treatment San Diego will help you find professionals who are happy to walk you through the process.

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