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Withdrawal symptoms & the benefits of supervised substance detoxification

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms or drug withdrawal symptoms is something every addict will experience.

Detoxification is a dangerous process. It is also generally unpleasant and can sometimes be extremely challenging for a person to overcome.

Therefore, it is critically important to your recovery that you ensure the rehabilitation centre that you choose is able to provide the support and medical assistance your recovery needs.

Withdrawal symptoms and treatment South Africa

At Step Away, we provide individually tailored detoxification programmes which are medically supervised by our nurses, doctors and other health care providers who have specialised training in drug and alcohol detox.

During your detoxification, our doctor is able to prescribe safe, well-researched medications, which are designed to help minimise your withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, making your detox more comfortable.

The withdrawal process consists of two stages. Both stages have their own complications which in turn require professional support and care to ensure your chances at a successful recovery.

First stage of withdrawal

The first stage of the withdrawal process is the acute stage. The acute stage can last for as long as a few weeks.

However, the severity of your withdrawals depend largely on the type of drugs you used and the state your physical health.

During this stage, you will experience intense and persistent physical cravings as your body adjusts to the loss of the substance it once depended on.

Second stage of withdrawal

The second stage of withdrawal is called the post-acute stage.

This stage is characterised by the Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). It involves fewer physical withdrawal symptoms, and is more psychologically and emotionally challenging.

Additionally, PAWS can last up to 2 years, with symptoms typically peaking around 6 months.

Post-acute withdrawal occurs when your brain chemistry slowing starts to return to normal. As chemicals fluctuate they begin to level out causing a number psychological withdrawal symptoms.

This stage requires constant support, which can be achieved through support groups such as:


  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Inpatient group therapies
  • Individual addiction counselling
  • Psycho-educational therapies


Unlike the acute stage, where people may experience different withdrawal symptoms. In post-acute withdrawal, most people experience the same symptoms.

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms include:


  • Trouble or inability to concentrate
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Sleep disturbances and trouble developing normal sleep patterns
  • Recurring thoughts of past, guilt and anxiety
  • Mood swings and high levels of stress
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy and initiative
  • Physical cravings
  • Low enthusiasm and difficulty experiencing pleasure – also referred to as Anhedonia
  • Irritability and difficulty getting along with others
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)


Post-acute withdrawal can be a trigger for relapse and therefore should be monitored carefully. It’s important for you to always be aware of your moods and to ask for help when you feel you may need it.

Step Away Rehab South Africa

Step Away offers you the best in addiction treatment techniques, ongoing support and loving care. The substance withdrawal process doesn’t need to be uncomfortable, it needs to be structured and professionally monitored.

Contact us today, to take the first step towards your recovery.

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