Taking a break from alcohol and other drugs during alert level 2?
Great choice. You might experience withdrawal symptoms, which is your body and brain getting used to a new normal – without regular alcohol and other drugs. Most people only experience mild withdrawal symptoms that pass in a few days. But if you’ve been using a lot or for a while, you might experience more uncomfortable symptoms and these can last for two weeks.
These tips will help you manage any withdrawal symptoms you experience. There are also some useful withdrawal handbooks you can download at the bottom of the page.
The more substances you have been using, the harder it is to predict the withdrawal symptoms that you are likely to experience.
How long and intense your withdrawal is depends on things like:
Withdrawal symptoms are usually at their highest between two and four days since you last used. Some symptoms, such as low mood, poor sleep, and feeling fatigued, can last for a few weeks. Some people find natural remedies that are available at pharmacies such as magnesium, melatonin, B vitamins and valerian help them to sleep and manage discomfort. Rongoā Māori techniques may also be helpful.
Think about these things to get prepared:
If you have been drinking large amounts of alcohol for a long time, call the alcohol drug helpline (0800 787 797) to check if you need medical support to detox.
Common withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and other drugs can be self-managed. These include:
Less common withdrawal symptoms should be reviewed by a health professional. Call your doctor or the alcohol drug helpline if you experience any of these symptoms while withdrawing:
Call 111 for urgent medical help if you experience any of these symptoms while withdrawing from alcohol or other drugs:
Cravings are when you feel a huge urge to use a substance. It is likely that you will have cravings while withdrawing.
Cravings tend to last for a few minutes. These actions can help you overcome them:
Try breathing slower. Cravings ramp up your body, and breathing slowly calms it down, signalling to your body that there is no danger. Here is one technique:
Ask yourself these questions:
Your body can get tense when you are withdrawing. Warm baths, hot water bottles, or stretching your muscles can help.
Here is another technique:
Keep well hydrated. This helps your body to recover and get rid of the toxins in your body.
Disrupted sleep is normal when withdrawing. Try these things to help you sleep better at night:
Download these guides from Matua Raki that can help you recognise and manage withdrawal symptoms.
Back to top