The intensity of withdrawal symptoms and their medical risk depends on the particular substances used and the degree to which dependence has developed. Withdrawal is most often clinically significant in those who have developed severe dependence on a primary drug of abuse; the medical risks of such withdrawal vary substantially with the type of drug. For example, much greater risks exist for Barbiturate than for Heroin withdrawal. The re cent use of other drugs in addition to the primary drug of abuse complicates the withdrawal process. In such cases, careful medical assessment is important in the planning of withdrawal management for polydrug users.

Polydrug users who typically dabble among the available drugs without developing severe dependence on any of them usually have no clinically serious problems when they stop using drugs. They may experience some discomfort, agitation, or sleeplessness but they do not normally require medical treatment. Social stability and support would be important, however, as the risk of relapse could be high during this period of discomfort.

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