The first step in every person’s recovery journey is detox. The need to purge the body of an addictive substance is a universal constant for all recovering patients. While withdrawal begins within hours to a day for everyone, the overall length of withdrawal varies. As such, the length of time detox takes also varies. How long does detox take? Read below to find out.
How Long Does Detox Take? It Depends
How long does detox take? The duration of detox depends on a few different factors. Factors that influence the length of detox include:
- Whether you are a man or a woman
- Type of substance
- Length of time you have been abusing
- Amount of substance consumed regularly
- Your overall health
- Whether you consumed more than one substance
- Your mental health
- Medication assistance
There is also the method of rapid detox, which has fallen out of favor in the medical community. Rapid detox involves being put under anesthesia and having your body flushed with a chemical to remove the traces of a drug. The medical community has turned against rapid detox because patients’ bodies entered shock, which can have lasting effects and even kill people.
In addition to rapid detox, doctors also warn against going cold turkey. For certain drugs and at a certain level of prior addiction, withdrawal symptoms like seizures and delirium tremens can also be fatal.
How Long Does Detox Take By Substance?
When determining how long does detox take, you will need to consider the above factors. The timelines below are general estimates, but keep in mind that detox only deals with physical withdrawal symptoms and dependence. Psychological dependence and withdrawal can last much longer.
- Alcohol — Symptoms can begin within 24 hours and will peak at day 2 or 3. Delirium tremens, a symptom unique to alcohol withdrawal, will cause auditory, visual, and tactile hallucinations. The worst of the physical symptoms are over in about a week.
- Benzos — Within hours of stopping you may start to experience anxiety. For most people, it takes around two days for symptoms to peak. However, a small subset of people have a delayed onset of withdrawal, and won’t peak until almost a week has passed.
- Hallucinogens — Hallucinogens don’t have strong withdrawal symptoms for most people. Those that do go through hallucinogen withdrawal are over it within three days.
- Marijuana — Marijuana creates few physical withdrawal symptoms. Insomnia, loss of appetite, and anxiety will last for around a week, or until your body starts to produce its own natural THC.
- Heroin — Heroin withdrawal symptoms begin within hours, and peak within the first 5-7 days. Digestive problems may last for two weeks.
- Stimulants (Cocaine, Meth) — Lethargy and mood changes will happen quickly and may last for over a week. Psychological symptoms are strongest with stimulants. You may experience occasional psychotic episodes, and other psychological symptoms may persist for months.
After the end of physical withdrawal, patients may endure post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS, a largely psychological condition, can last for weeks or even months at a time. Symptoms of PAWS include anxiety, depression, insomnia, and intense craving for your former substance of choice.
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After the end of the detox, you’ll move on to phase 2 of the recovery process: rehabilitation. Rehab comes in a variety of styles, including: