How long does detox take?
Detox can take different lengths of time depending on which substance the person is being withdrawn. Each drug can affect the mind/body differently and may either make the detox time longer or shorter depending on many factors. Some drugs, including alcohol, can be dangerous to detox from without medical supervision. We recommend contacting your family doctor to find out if you need to detox before stopping any medications or alcohol consumption.
Types of drugs and typical time frames for detox
Benzodiazepines: This class of drugs includes Klonopin, Xanax, and Valium. Depending on the usage history withdrawal symptoms after last use can start as early as 12 hours or take a week to manifest. In the first two weeks of detox, an individual can experience seizures, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, headache, insomnia, anxiety, tension, and difficulty focusing. Mild to medium withdrawal symptoms can last for months depending on the length of use and dosages.
Stimulants: Cocaine and other stimulants including methamphetamines, have a very short half-life and leave the body fairly quickly. After repeated use of these substances, one can expect to have some withdrawal symptoms usually lasting for 3 days up to a few weeks. The first stage of stimulant withdrawal starts with a severe crash that may last a few days. To be fully detoxed takes about 3 weeks. During the detox period, symptoms may include fatigue, paranoia, hunger, depression, anxiety, and cravings for the drug.
Alcohol: Withdrawal from alcohol can cause extreme health concerns that may require emergency medical intervention if done outside of a medical detoxification clinic. Serious side effects can occur if consumption on a daily bases includes as little as 1 pint of liquor a day, 6 glasses of wine, or 7-8 bears a day over a long period of time. Withdrawal from alcohol usually takes 3-7 days with the first 3 days being the most concerning. Heavy abusers of alcohol will typically experience the DT’s (Delerium Tremens) that can last for a few days up to a week. Delerium Tremens is a condition that affects the central nervous system. The DTs can cause confusion, hallucinations, seizures, and tremors. Other side effects of alcohol withdrawal include heart palpitations, fatigue, nausea, depression, anxiety, and loss of appetite. The worst of the withdrawal symptoms can last about a week or so after the initial detox period is over.
Heroin and other opioids: Opioid withdrawal can manifest in as little as 6 hours after the last dose up to 24 hours for some prescription medications. The symptoms usually get progressively worse over the next 2-3 days after the last dose was taken. Symptoms can include hot and cold chills, dilated pupils, intense drug cravings, loss of appetite, insomnia, nausea, body aches, and agitation. Withdrawal can last for 4-30 days depending on the drug of choice. Heroin withdrawal can be a very painful experience if done without medications. About 18 hours after the last intake of the drug a person will start to feel anxious, as most heroin addicts know what is coming soon. For this reason, alone, many people suffering from heroin addiction find it easier to remain on the drug than try to stop on their own.
Before trying to detox from any drug alone, it is important to consult your primary care provider to make sure you can do it without medical intervention. Some drugs including alcohol can have life-threatening consequences if not handled in a medical facility with trained withdrawal specialists.
If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms and are in need of a detox give us a call. We can help you find a detox facility that is close to where you are. Detox is just the first step in the recovery process and should always be followed up with an addiction treatment program to ensure that relapse does not happen right after you start to feel better.