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? Let’s take a closer look in order 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 two or three. 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.
What Happens After Detox?
After the end of the detox, you’ll move on to phase two of the recovery process: rehabilitation. Where detox tackled the body, therapy in rehab tackles the mental roots of addiction. During rehab, you’ll go through a program of psychotherapy, addiction therapies, and assorted activities. In fact, rehab comes in a variety of styles, including:
Residential rehab is an intensive, structured form of addiction treatment that takes place in a residential setting. It involves staying in a facility that offers 24/7 access to medical and clinical support as well as counseling and other therapeutic activities.
Outpatient rehab involves attending scheduled sessions at a facility, usually during the day. People who attend outpatient rehab programs may still require some level of support and structure, but they are able to maintain their regular schedule and responsibilities while in treatment.
Intensive Outpatient Rehab
Intensive outpatient rehab (IOP) is typically a step down from residential rehab and can be used as an alternative to inpatient care or as part of an aftercare plan. IOPs provide structure and support to help the individual maintain sobriety while still being able to live at home or in a sober living facility.
Partial Hospitalization Programs
Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are a type of treatment program where the patient attends therapy or counseling sessions at a facility several times a week, usually for five to seven hours per day. PHPs provide more intensive care than outpatient rehab, but less intense than residential rehab.
Aftercare programs provide continued support and guidance to individuals who have completed an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. One of the main goals of aftercare programs is to help prevent relapse. Addiction is a chronic disease, and there’s always a risk of falling back into old habits.