Updated: July 10, 2023, at 2:25 p.m.
Key points in the blog:
- Detox timelines for alcohol and drug withdrawal depend on substance use, personal health, and addiction severity.
- Medical detox at a qualified treatment center is crucial for a safe and successful withdrawal.
- Continued substance abuse treatment after detox is essential for long-term recovery and sobriety.
Understanding Detox Timelines: How Long Does It Take?
Generally, alcohol or drug detox can last anywhere from three days to two weeks. Because detoxification is an individual journey, how long it takes is based on factors such as:
- The substance used
- How long you’ve been using
- A person’s health
- Addiction severity
- The type of detox program
Factors Influencing How Long Detox Lasts
- Substance Type: Different drugs take different times to leave the body. For example, experts say alcohol can take up to a week to detox from, while benzodiazepines can take weeks or even months.
- How Long You’ve Been Using: The longer you use a substance like illicit drugs or alcohol, the longer detox usually takes. Repeated or long-term substance use means your body has to work harder to eliminate the substance.
- Your Health: Your overall health plays a role in detox. Detox can take longer if you have health conditions, especially with your liver or kidneys.
- Addiction Intensity: How severely addicted you are can affect detox time. The more severe your addiction, the longer detox is likely to last as your body has more substance to remove.
- Detox Program Type: Your detox program can impact how long the detox lasts. Medical detox programs may be faster because they use medicine to help your body go through withdrawal symptoms. Detoxing without medical guidance or at home can often take longer and be more dangerous.
Why Detox Timelines Vary: An Expert Take
According to Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), “When people addicted to opioids first quit, they undergo withdrawal symptoms, which may be severe [pain, diarrhea, etc].”
Dr. Volkow testified before a Senate Committee on drug abuse and emphasized that medications can help ease physical withdrawal symptoms during detox, often the first step in treating addiction. Ongoing treatment, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and inpatient rehab, is essential for people battling addiction “to regain control of their health and lives,” Volkow said. Understanding these factors highlights why detox timelines vary and the importance of continued treatment.
Drug-Specific Detox Timelines
The length of the detox process differs depending on the substance, but here is a general overview of the process for different kinds of drugs.
- Alcohol: According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), mild withdrawal symptoms can start about six hours after you stop drinking. The worst symptoms usually show up between one to three days later. Overall, alcohol detox can last up to a week.
- Benzodiazepines: These are drugs like Xanax or Valium. A study published in Neurology International says benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms may last for one to a few weeks after quitting.
- Opioids: A Clinical Guidelines Book says that withdrawal and detox from short-acting opioids like heroin may last four to 10 days. If you quit long-acting opioids like methadone, withdrawal may start within 12 hours and last 10 to 20 days.
- Methamphetamine (also known as “meth“): Studies have shown that detoxing from this drug’s withdrawal symptoms may take one to two weeks.
NOTE: These are estimated timelines. Everyone’s body reacts differently, so these timelines might not be exact. Always consult a doctor or addiction treatment provider before detoxing. Call 888-448-0302 to speak to the admissions team at Landmark Recovery about medical detox programs.
Choosing a Detox Program
When it comes to alcohol or drug detox, choosing a medically-supervised detoxification program like the one offered at qualified treatment centers, including Landmark Recovery, is critical. Not only do our detox centers provide round-the-clock medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms, but they also set the stage for continued recovery. Call our confidential admissions line at 888-448-0302, available 24/7/365, to discuss your treatment options.
Find a Detox Center Near You
Visit our locations page to find a detox center near you.
For more resources on detox and addiction recovery, consider reading the following:
- Understanding Detox: What is Medically Supervised Withdrawal?
- What Happens to the Body During Detox?
- Can I Detox At Home?
- Detoxing At Rehab Centers in Carmel, Indiana
- Do I Need IOP After Detoxing?
- What Happens When You Stop Drinking Alcohol?
Don’t let addiction control your life. Understand the detox process, get help, and take positive steps toward a sober, healthier future.
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