How Long Does Drug Detox and Withdrawal Last?

The fear of withdrawal is one of the main reasons people suffering from substance abuse problems  don’t go to detox. If you’re entering a detox program for the first time, you’ll most likely want to know how long you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms, what you can expect them to be like, and how long detox will last. The answers depend on a number of different factors, but first, let’s review the basics of withdrawal.

What Is Alcohol and Drug Withdrawal?

When you are dependent on a substance, your body becomes accustomed to maintaining a certain amount of it due to consistent substance abuse. If you suddenly stop using it, you will experience unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms. These symptoms are called withdrawal.

Physical symptoms can be mild to severe and include shakiness, nausea, vomiting, sweating, hallucinations, insomnia and muscle aches. Seizures can occur in severe cases. Psychological symptoms may include depression, anxiety, strong cravings, irritability and trouble concentrating.

Factors that Affect the Duration of Withdrawal

The type of withdrawal symptoms you experience, as well as their severity, are determined by several different factors.

    • How you used the substance: Did you snort, swallow, inject or orally consume the substance? Snorting or injecting a substance may lead to more complex withdrawal symptoms.
    • Other substances taken simultaneously: If you used multiple substances at once, you may be at risk for a more complicated and severe withdrawal.
    • How long you’ve been abusing the substance: Has it been a few weeks? Several months? Ten years? Typically, the longer you have been abusing a substance, the more likely you are to have severe withdrawal symptoms.
    • How much of the substance you took each time: In many cases, consistently taking high dosages of a substance leads to longer-lasting, more severe withdrawal symptoms.
    • Your physiological makeup: Your metabolism and genes will play a role in how you react to removing an addictive substance from your body.

Withdrawal Timelines for Commonly Abused Drugs

The type of symptoms you experience, their intensity and the duration of withdrawal will vary based on the drug(s) you are taking. It’s impossible to predict exactly how your experience will be, but these timelines may give you an idea of what you can expect.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

  • The first symptoms of withdrawal typically begin about 8 hours after your last drink.
  • Within 12-24 hours, you may begin to experience more mild symptoms such as nausea, sweating, headaches, shakiness and anxiety.
  • More extreme withdrawal cases may result in seizures within 1-2 days or the development of delirium tremens within 2-3 days.
  • In most cases, symptoms usually peak between 1-3 days and generally fade within 5-7 days.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

  • Six to 24 hours after ceasing use, you may begin to experience mild physical symptoms like abdominal cramps, sweating, headaches, nausea and vomiting, irritability and insomnia.
  • The most severe symptoms will likely peak between day 2 and 4 but most people’s withdrawal symptoms subside after one week.

Vicodin Withdrawal Timeline

  • Early withdrawal symptoms begin to appear after 6-12 hours of the last use. During this time you may experience sweating, anxiety, watery eyes and runny nose, muscle aches and insomnia.
  • Symptoms typically peak around 1-3 days and include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
  • Vicodin withdrawal symptoms usually begin to fade after 5 days and are usually gone within a week, although some people may experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) for weeks or even months after getting clean.

Xanax, Klonopin and Valium Withdrawal Timelines

Withdrawal symptoms for these benzodiazepines are often similar to that of alcohol.

  • The first signs of withdrawal will occur during the first 6-8 hours after the last use. This usually includes anxiety and insomnia.
  • During days 1-4, these symptoms may peak and other symptoms may develop, such as nausea, increased breathing and heart rate and sweating.
  • Your symptoms will eventually fade after 10-14 days, although withdrawal symptoms of long-acting benzodiazepines may take 3-4 weeks to fade.

Methadone Withdrawal Timeline

  • Unlike other opioids, methadone stays in your body for a very long time, so your first symptoms of withdrawal may not not appear until up to 30 hours after the last use. These early symptoms may include anxiety, excessive yawning, insomnia and muscle aches.
  • Symptoms usually develop into nausea, vomiting, dilated pupils and goose bumps, but tend to fade after day 10.
  • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, withdrawal may last 14-21 days.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

  • Withdrawal symptoms typically begin 6-12 hours after your last use and usually include muscle aches, insomnia, sweating, anxiety and runny nose.
  • Your symptoms may peak within 2-4 days and bone pain may be very severe during this time. Other withdrawal symptoms you may experience include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.
  • Your physical symptoms should fade between 5 and 7 days.

Managing Withdrawal Symptoms with Medically-Supervised Detox

Withdrawal symptoms can be managed in a clinical setting to make the detox and withdrawal process very comfortable. This can be achieved with safe tapering medications that gradually ease you down into a stable, sober state. Regardless of the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms, an experienced professional team of addiction specialists can help make detox easier so you can move forward with your recovery.

Clinical detox is always the safest way to stop using an addictive substance for good, regardless of how long you’ve been taking it. In a luxury facility like Briarwood Detox Center, you’ll be cared for by a team of clinical, medical and psychiatric professionals with medical staff on-site 24/7 to tend to your needs. Our staff is trained to recognize and treat the symptoms of withdrawal for all types of addictive substances and we will make sure you are comfortable at all times.

How Long Does Drug Detox Take?

Typically, drug detox takes anywhere from five to seven days, but it is impossible to say exactly how long drug detox will take without first completing a comprehensive physical and psychological assessment. This takes place on the first day of detox. The duration of each person’s detox program will vary depending on the current status and circumstances of their physical and psychological health. These details will help our staff develop an appropriate detox protocol that will properly address the client’s needs.

If you’re ready to start your recovery journey with drug detox or would like to learn more about drug detox programs at Briarwood, call us today to get started.




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