Detox and Withdrawal Timelines

How Long Does Withdrawal Take?

Understanding Withdrawal

During the drug treatment process, most people experience is withdrawal. Almost everyone detoxing from a drug or alcohol experiences withdrawal, which can come with uncomfortable symptoms and side effects. Withdrawal is the body’s way of ridding itself of the toxins and harsh chemicals that circulate when someone uses drugs frequently. 

Everyone experiences withdrawal differently, and every drug has a slightly different effect. Some drugs cause physical withdrawal symptoms, like dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, and sweating, while others cause emotional effects, such as anxiety, restlessness, and cravings. But withdrawal is the first step towards recovery, and it needs to happen before you can start any other form of treatment. 

If you’re recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, you might be wondering how long it will take you to fully detox and start the healing process. But withdrawal timelines vary based on the type of drug, how long you’ve been using, and how much you usually take at a given time. Certain substances take longer to leave the body, while others get released more quickly. Here’s a look at the estimated withdrawal timelines for some commonly used drugs. 

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

People who use heroin often have extremely intense withdrawal symptoms, which is one of the reasons why many people continue to use it. In fact, many heroin users begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms between 6 and 12 hours after their last dose. Heroin leaves the body much faster than many other drugs, which makes it very hard to break the addiction.

Day 1-2:

Because of heroin’s short lifespan in the body, users will begin to feel the effects of withdrawal very quickly. Initial side effects of withdrawal include body aches, muscle pain that gets worse over 48 hours, heightened anxiety and panic attacks, as well as insomnia and shaking.

Day 3-5:

At this point, the body is in full withdrawal mode, and the person will likely experience stomach cramping, sweating, nausea/vomiting, and diarrhea.

Day 6-7:

By day 6, the physical pain, like muscle aches and nausea, should begin to subside. This is when people generally start to feel more normal, although they will likely be tired and worn out. 

Day 8+:

After the physical withdrawal process winds down, the mental and emotional detoxing happens. After the first week, many people will experience symptoms like poor sleep, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, mood swings, memory loss, poor concentration, and restlessness. These symptoms can last anywhere from 18-24 months.

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Alcohol Withdrawal and Detox Information

Alcohol addiction is extremely common. Data shows that about 15 million people over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, less than seven percent of people with an AUD ever receive treatment. The withdrawal process from alcohol is faster and more manageable than many other drugs, but still comes with some unpleasant side effects.

Day 1:

People who overuse alcohol may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms as soon as 8 hours after their last drink. The first side effects tend to be anxiety, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, tremors, nausea, and heart palpitations.

Day 2-3:

The second and third day after a person’s last drink is when the detox symptoms are at their worst. It’s common to experience high blood pressure, an increase in body temperature, rapid or irregular heart rate, brain fog/confusion, sweating, and irritability.

Day 4-7:

At this point, most physical symptoms will become less intense and eventually taper off. However, the psychological effects may linger for longer, especially without professional treatment.

Delirium Tremens

If you’re suffering from an alcohol addiction, it’s important to be aware of Delirium Tremens (DTs). It’s the most serious form of alcohol withdrawal, and it happens to about 3-5 percent of people experiencing withdrawal. It’s characterized by symptoms such as hallucinations, seizures, and extreme confusion, and it can be fatal without treatment. That’s why it’s not recommended to give up alcohol completely without the supervision of a medical professional.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms and Timelines

Cocaine can be highly addictive drug, and an estimated one in six people who use cocaine develop a moderate to severe addiction. It also tends to be a longer withdrawal process than other drugs, which is marked with cravings that can be hard to shake. Of course, the severity of withdrawal depends on how long the person has used cocaine, the amount they take, and how often they use.

Day 1-2:

Cocaine users will experience a “crash” between several hours and a few days after their last dose. During this time, they may experience side effects including depression, exhaustion, restlessness, and irritability. However, most people will find that cocaine cravings decrease during this short period.

Day 5-8:

After the first week of withdrawal is when strong cocaine cravings start to set in. Many people will feel exhausted, yet unable to sleep.

Day 14-30:

After the first week of withdrawal is when strong cocaine cravings start to set in. Many people will feel exhausted, yet unable to sleep.

Day 30+:

After about a month of cocaine withdrawal, the person’s mental and physical symptoms will start to fade. Strong cravings should also subside by this point, although they may still happen from time to time.

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Benzodiazepine Withdrawals

Benzodiazepines are drugs that target the central nervous system and calm the brain. They’re commonly prescribed for people dealing with depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and trouble sleeping. However, benzodiazepines are highly addictive, especially as tolerance builds up and higher doses are needed to achieve the same effect. The withdrawal process can be difficult, and symptoms can be unpredictable.

Hours after the last dose:

Withdrawal symptoms can start several hours after the last dose is taken, and often include anxiety and trouble sleeping.

Day 1-4:

During the first few days of withdrawal, many people who use the drug for anxiety or depression will experience rebound effects, meaning their condition will get even worse when they stop taking it. Other side effects include rapid heartbeat, sweating, and nausea.

Day 15+:

At this point, most symptoms will have disappeared. However, people who suffered from serious addictions may experience a random period of withdrawal symptoms for several months after their last dose.

Day 5-14:

Most people will experience heightened depression, anxiety and insomnia for up to two weeks after they begin detoxing.

Opioid Detox Timelines

In the United States alone, an average of 130 people die every day from overdosing on opioids. Opioid addiction is a real threat to our society, and it’s gotten progressively worse over time. Opioids are among the most addictive drugs, and the withdrawal process from substances like fentanyl or oxycodone is extremely difficult. The opioid detoxing process can take anywhere from one week to one month, but the effects tend to last much longer.

Day 1:

Most people start experiencing the withdrawal symptoms of opioids about 6-24 hours after their last dose. The initial side effects include muscle aches, difficulty sleeping, restlessness, anxiety, sweating, a runny nose, and high blood pressure.

Day 2-4:

This is the period when symptoms are the most intense. Many people will experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, and depression. Several days after the last dose is also when intense opioid cravings will set in.

Day 5-8:

By this point, most physical side effects will begin to subside, although the mental symptoms can linger for several weeks after. Depending on the severity of the addiction, some people will continue experiencing cravings, especially if they aren’t getting professional treatment.

Marijuana: Is Detox and Withdrawal Necessary?

Giving up marijuana can be difficult, especially for daily smokers. But marijuana is generally less addictive than alcohol and many other drugs. Data has shown that less than 10 percent of people who use marijuana will develop a dependency. But breaking the habit isn’t easy, and there are some side effects of withdrawal that can be hard to overcome.

Day 7+:

After the first week of withdrawal, most side effects should subside, although cravings may continue to pop up.

Day 2-7:

Over the next several days to a week, some people will experience mental side effects, like anxiety, mild depression, and even lack of motivation. This is also when relapses are most common.

Day 1:

During the first 24 hours of withdrawal, many people will experience irritability, difficulty sleeping, decreased appetite, restlessness, and cravings for the drug.

Drug Treatment in Los Angeles

Regardless of the type of drug you’re recovering from, it’s important to find a treatment center that can make the withdrawal and detox process as comfortable as possible. At Launch Centers, we are committed to working with young people who suffer from addiction and helping them recover so they can live a successful and fulfilling life. We use a combination of treatments to help our clients detox safely so they can begin their recovery process and achieve their purpose in life.


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