If you are searching for answers to the question “how long does it take to detox your body?” you may be about to start a detox treatment program. If so, congratulations on setting off in the right direction. If you are reading because you require detox, you too can make this brave jump towards recovery.
One of the most significant barriers to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Like many other people with substance abuse problems, you may be in denial about the extent of your drug abuse, or you may be reluctant to ask for help. Although you may feel shame, it is essential to remember that addiction can happen to anyone, and it is an illness that requires treatment.
Detox programs might seem daunting, but the process is relatively straightforward. Although it is possible to detox at home, medical detox is in your best interest, just in case any complications occur. But how long does it take to detox? Not as long as you might think.
What Are the Effects of Drugs and Alcohol on the Body?
Alcohol is a powerful mind-altering drug. Using alcohol or other drugs can have dangerous short and long-term consequences on the brain and body, especially when misused. Through prolonged use, there is also a risk of addiction.
Both street and prescription drugs have a high potential for misuse and addiction. For this reason, you should only take prescription medication as intended, and you should never prolong their use or up dosage without consulting your doctor. Drug abuse, especially when taking multiple substances, is extremely dangerous and sometimes leads to overdose, which can be life-threatening.
People take substances for many reasons, such as for the high they offer, out of curiosity, due to peer pressure, or to self-medicate and ease symptoms of mental health issues, such as anxiety.
Although the effects of drugs and alcohol on the body vary, they commonly include:
- Increased heart rate
- Mood swings
- Sleep problems
- Exacerbated existing mental health problems
Sadly, addiction can ruin lives. If you have an alcohol or drug addiction, it is important to tell someone and get help. After all, it is never too late to turn your life around and free yourself from the grasp of addiction.
Alcohol and the Body
Government guidelines state that, in general, men should only drink up to two drinks per day. Meanwhile, women should only drink one drink per day. If you are pregnant or on medication that is incompatible with alcohol, such as Xanax, you should refrain from drinking alcohol at all.
According to a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) survey, most people worldwide have tried alcohol at least once. But when a person frequently drinks alcohol or engages in heavy drinking or binge drinking, there is a risk of developing an addiction.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. This means it slows down messages sent from the brain to the body. Other side effects of drinking alcohol include:
- Slowed reaction time
- Impaired cognitive thinking
- Reduced inhibitions
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
The Risks of Drinking Alcohol and Using Drugs
Unfortunately, it is possible to overdose on both alcohol and drugs. Some signs of overdose include symptoms such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Being unresponsive but awake
- Falling unconscious
- Shallow breathing.
These symptoms require immediate medical attention. If you suspect yourself or someone you know is experiencing an overdose, call 911.
Furthermore, both alcohol and drugs have a high potential for harm and addiction and can exacerbate existing mental health issues and cause psychosis.
In addition to the signs of overdose noted above, some long-term side effects of substance abuse can include:
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Brain injury
What Does Addiction Look Like?
Also known as a substance use disorder (SUD), addiction occurs when the body becomes physically dependent on substances. Often, when an individual experiences addiction, they lose control over substances and continue to take them despite adverse effects.
If you have an addiction, you might take street drugs, such as heroin. Alternatively, you may misuse prescription medications, such as Adderall, by taking a higher dose than prescribed. You may even use them for a prolonged time.
Like others struggling with addiction, you may hide your problem from friends and family due to an intense feeling of shame. If you don’t feel you can talk to your family, support and guidance are available via rehab treatment centers and national helplines. But please remember there is no shame in addiction, and you must get help as soon as possible.
Should you find yourself unsure of what addiction looks like, we have shared some common signs below:
- You use substances frequently and at abnormal times, such as in the morning.
- You constantly think about getting your next fix.
- You have unpredictable mood swings.
- You experience physical withdrawal symptoms
- You are defensive about your substance use and consequential behavior.
- You have become secretive and often lie to cover your tracks.
- You have become withdrawn from friends and family to avoid facing your truth.
- You have suffered poor performance at school or work due to being under the influence.
- You have financial difficulty due to buying alcohol or drugs.
- You engage in risky behavior, such as driving under the influence.
- You keep using substances despite any adverse consequences to your health and everyday life.
- You want to stop taking alcohol or drugs, but you feel as though you cannot.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop using drugs or alcohol.
Sadly, an addiction will gradually consume your life, making it difficult to quit without professional intervention. If you can identify any of the signs of addiction noted above, professional detox is in your best interest. Upon expressing your difficulties with drugs or alcohol to a medical professional, you will be encouraged to seek help at a treatment center where you can begin the recovery process.
What Does the Detox Process in Addiction Treatment Look Like?
Typically, every addiction treatment plan starts with detoxification, which is usually carried out at a detox center. Detoxification is essentially a cleansing process that rids your body of all substance traces. Depending on your circumstances and the advice offered by medical professionals, you may taper your substance use over time or undergo a medical detox.
As medical care can prevent severe withdrawal symptoms from affecting your progress, it is important to detox in a medically controlled way as an inpatient in a rehab center. Although you can detox at home if a medical professional permits, this is not always recommended. This is because the first few days of detox can be unpleasant and challenging due to withdrawal symptoms, causing some people to relapse.
In the safety and care of one of the many treatment centers located across the country, such as our own, you will have twenty-four-hour medical supervision. During your time in rehab, you will be made comfortable by specialized staff during the entire detox process. Medication can also be administered for the relief of some withdrawal symptoms.
Most detoxes take a few days to a week. Usually, withdrawal symptoms occur a few hours after your last dose, and symptoms peak around seventy-two hours into detox before slowly subsiding. However, if your addiction is severe, it may take you several weeks to detox, although symptoms should alleviate after one week.
What Are Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms?
A typical alcohol detox takes about a week. During this time, withdrawal symptoms can present themselves from as little as eight hours after your last drink.
Common alcohol withdrawal symptoms are:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Tremors or the shakes
- Nausea and vomiting
- High pulse
- Sleep problems
- Irritability and mood swings
- Depression and anxiety
- Intense drug cravings
- Body aches
- Stomach upset
The length and intensity of withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the extent of your alcohol use, your age, your health, and your body’s ability to metabolize alcohol.
In rare cases, some people experience delirium tremens (DTs) when detoxing from alcohol. This is a severe condition that can be fatal and requires emergency medical treatment.
If you experience delirium tremens, symptoms may include:
- Extreme mental confusion
- Aggression and irritability
- Rapid heart rate
- Fear and anxiety
- Vivid dreams and nightmares
Symptoms of DT’s can last for around a week. Although a scary condition, professional care and various treatment options are available to help you remain comfortable and safe. With medical supervision you can manage your most serious symptoms and start the first steps into recovery.
As we can see, detoxing from drugs and alcohol can span different time frames. Usually, it takes one week to detox, but detox may take longer in severe cases.
Although the thought of completing an alcohol or drug detox may be daunting, seeking treatment is the first step to treating addiction. Following detox, additional treatment options are available to help you maintain your sobriety.
Programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are also available to help you maintain sobriety, meet like-minded people, and stay focused on your recovery.