How Long Does It Take To Detox From Drugs?

Author: NP Addiction Clinic
Published: August 23, 2022

Accepting that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol and that you need support is often the hardest step in recovery. If you are at this stage, we are proud of the brave choice you have made. For many people, the first question will be, "So, how long does it take to detox from drugs?" There is not one straight forward answer, but learning about the process and how to detox safely will empower you to make healthy choices and stay in control of your symptoms.

It is strongly advised that when detoxing from any substance, you do so under the supervision of medical professionals. Some aspects of detox can be dangerous and the support of expert clinicians increases your safety and comfort during the process.

Drug Addiction in Florida, USA

Recent research on the Florida county population suggests that on average, 8% of the Florida population are using illicit substances. This equates to around 1.5 million people. Furthermore, research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that across the United States, 93,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2020 – the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in the country. Of these 93,000 deaths, 7,579 took place in Florida. This puts Florida at number two in the country for overdose deaths and has a sharp 37% increase from 2019. The only state with a higher number is California.

Do I Need to Detox?

Recognizing that you have a problem and you need support to get through your addiction can be challenging. There are some criteria that can help to identify problem drug use, but generally, if substances are negatively impacting or dictating your life, it's possible that you are living with a dependency. Accepting this is the only way to move forward to a better place.

Some criteria which may be used to diagnose an addiction to drugs or alcohol include the following:

  • Using substances negatively impacts your life
  • Being preoccupied with using and obtaining drugs or alcohol
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Can't stop using despite the negative consequences
  • Relationship problems due to drug use
  • A lack of enjoyment in previous interests
  • Using drugs in risky situations
  • Putting yourself in danger due to drug abuse
  • Increased tolerance to substances
  • Experiencing drug withdrawal symptoms

If you associate with two or three of these criteria, it may indicate you are living with a mild addiction. If most or all of these indicators are relevant to you, it could suggest you are living with a severe substance use disorder.

Regardless of what stage you are at, seeking help is always the right choice. Many people find themselves stuck in a position of denial about their condition, and furthermore, others may attempt to overcome addiction alone. This can be extremely damaging to your health and well-being, and lead to further physical and mental health issues. Taking a judgement-free approach to your addiction can help you find the compassion and self-care you need to start making healthier choices for you.

How Long is the Detox Process?

Detoxing from a substance involves ridding the body of any traces of the drug, plus the toxins they create. Usually, individuals going through drug or alcohol detox will experience withdrawal symptoms which can vary in severity depending on a number of factors.

This process can take anywhere from days to months, and throughout this time symptoms and experiences will fluctuate. How long detox takes depends on a variety of factors, including the following:

  • Which substance you are detoxing from
  • The presence of other substances
  • Frequency of use
  • Quantity of use
  • Co-existing mental health issues
  • Physical health medical history
  • Age
  • Gender

The initial detox is the crucial first step, freeing your system of substances so you can fully commit and focus on the psychological aspect of dependency. A typical drug detox program can take anywhere from three days to three weeks.

Managing Withdrawal Symptoms

Preparing yourself for the challenges of the detox period is advisable. Most people will experience physical withdrawal symptoms, and depending on the substance, there may be some difficult psychological withdrawal symptoms to manage too.

Typical withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Sleeping problems
  • Fluctuating mood
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Fever and sweating
  • Muscle tremors or shakes
  • Panic attacks
  • Vivid dreams and delirium
  • Strong substance cravings

With certain substances, it's possible to experience severe withdrawal symptoms which have life-threatening consequences. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include delirium tremens and seizures which is why it is strongly advised to engage in a medically-assisted detox. Quitting cold turkey without access to medical attention puts your life in danger and reduces your chances of a sustained recovery.

Detox Process by Substance

The answer to 'how long does detox take?', can be more accurately answered if we distinguish between drugs. The substance used affects the length of time it remains in the body; in turn, this impacts how long the detox process lasts. Generally, in the right conditions, an individual can go through the detox period in a week, though cravings are likely to persist for weeks or months after this. Below we look at some of the most commonly abused substances and their drug withdrawal timelines.

Drug Withdrawal Timelines

Alcohol

Days 1-3: Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours of the last drink. They typically include anxiety, sleeping problems, and shakes/tremors.

Days 3-5: Symptoms are usually most acute within the first three days. This can include hallucinations, seizures, and extreme dehydration.
Days 5-7: Typically symptoms will decrease after one week.
7 days +: Severe cravings may continue for months after quitting.

Cannabis

Days 1-3: Symptoms may not appear until one or two days after last use. Maintaining good health at this stage can support the cannabis detox process. Hydration and adequate nutrition are key.
Days 3-5: Withdrawal symptoms are likely to peak within this period; these include exhaustion, reduced appetite, headaches, sleep problems, and digestive issues.
Days 5-7: During this stage the psychological symptoms of withdrawal are likely to occur including irritability, intense dreaming, cravings, and low mood.
7 days +: Symptoms may cease after this period, though frequent users may find that withdrawal symptoms continue for two to three weeks or more.

Opioids & OPIATES (iNCLUDING CODEINE, Heroin, MORPHINE)

Days 1-3: Withdrawal varies depending on whether the substance is fast or slow-acting. Detoxing from heroin may incur symptoms within a few hours and can include painful withdrawal symptoms such as muscle aches, anxiety, streaming nose, excessive perspiration, trouble sleeping, and frequent yawning.
Days 3-5: Physical symptoms are likely to peak at this time and include gastrointestinal issues, vomiting, abdominal cramps, shivers, sight changes, and increased heart rate.
Days 5-7: Some symptoms may dissipate but individuals may continue to experience diarrhea, poor appetite, dehydration, or seizures.
7 days +: In severe opioid withdrawal, individuals may experience symptoms for months including sleep problems, anger, cravings, anxiety, and depression.

Stimulants (InCLUDING Cocaine, CRYSTAL Meth)

Days 1-3: The initial cocaine withdrawal is often referred to as the 'crash'. This can include exhaustion, aches and pains, frustration, and mood fluctuations. Cravings may temporarily subside.
Days 3-5: Cravings may increase again, as well as symptoms such as difficulty concentrating and lethargy.
Days 5-7: Sleep problems, intense drug cravings, low mood, and poor concentration may continue.
7 days + Drug cravings are typically the symptoms that remain for weeks or even months in stimulant withdrawal.

Benzodiazepines

Days 1-3: Early symptoms include irritability, nausea and vomiting, headache, and muscle pain.

Days 3-5: When symptoms are at their strongest in this phase, they could include psychological symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, shaking, restlessness, and physical symptoms including dry-retching, and irregular heart beat.

Days 5-7: For many people, severe sleep issues occur at this stage.

7 days +: The most severe withdrawal symptoms tend to last up to two weeks and may include weight loss, trouble concentrating, and trouble regulating emotions.

Support for Drug Addiction

NP Addiction Clinics serve the Florida community with a compassionate, holistic approach to addiction treatment. We use cutting-edge research and a range of new therapeutic techniques to treat a range of alcohol and drug dependencies.

If you are ready to move forwards from your substance abuse and find a healthier, happier future, we can guide you through the early days of recovery and set you up to make empowered life choices. If you have questions about our addiction treatment options, or you would like to schedule an assessment, call us today at (772) 281-5051.

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