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For individuals struggling with addiction, the first step along the road to a new life involves detox. Detox is never easy, and you should never have to go it alone.

 

What Is Detox?

A man thinking about what happens in detox

Detox, or detoxification, is the process of eliminating addictive substances and toxins from the body. Over a period of time, the drug is metabolized and naturally flushed out of your system.

 

Drug metabolism is the biotransformation of a substance within the body. When the drug is broken down, it changes chemical composition, allowing it to be broken down and excreted from the system. During this process, the substance loses its inebriating effects, and the individual becomes sober.

 

The Effects of Detox

Detox is used as a component of rehabilitative treatment to stabilize individuals dealing with drug or alcohol dependence. However, detoxification comes part and parcel with the symptoms of substance withdrawal. This can be a profoundly unpleasant, even traumatic process. Because it is so mentally and physically strenuous, it should be overseen by a medical professional who can offer both medical and emotional support.

 

How Long Does Detox Take?

A man holding a small clock to show how long detox takes

 

Alcohol Detox

Alcohol users tend to stop feeling the effects of detox symptoms about four to five days after their last drink. Within the first six hours after cessation, a daily heavy drinker may experience a seizure. Over the next 72 hours, the individual may develop a variety of symptoms.

 

Common minor withdrawal symptoms include headache, tremors, upset stomach, and nausea. For those experiencing minor withdrawal, these symptoms usually peak at the 18-24 hour mark. Other less common symptoms include visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations, or even delirium tremens (DTs).

 

With more severe addiction, the worst of the withdrawal comes at around 72 hours, after which the symptoms tend to taper off. In more severe withdrawal situations, symptoms can persist for days or weeks.

 

Opioid/Opiate Detox

Opioids and opiates come with very serious physical withdrawal symptoms. This class of drugs includes oxycodone, codeine, heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and methadone. Withdrawal from opioids can cause life-threatening symptoms.

 

Within the first 24 hours of stopping, individuals experience anxiety, restlessness, the inability to sleep, uncontrollable spasms (also called ‘the kick’), teary eyes, runny nose, abnormal sweating, and aching muscles.

 

More intense symptoms may present after the first 24 hours, including gooseflesh, dilated pupils, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, high blood pressure, and rapid pulse. After around 72 hours, these symptoms will start to subside. After a week, most physical symptoms are gone.

 

It should be noted that opioid detoxification varies from person to person, based on the type of substance, length and intensity of use, how the drug was taken (injected, ingested, inhaled), and other factors like the individual’s overall health.

 

Some opiates are metabolized faster than others. Heroin leaves the body quickly, so withdrawal generally begins within 12 hours. For individuals taking methadone—which is often used to manage detox symptoms and help the addict to taper off—withdrawal might not start for 36 hours after last use.

 

Help is Close at Hand

Detox is hard. If you or a loved one struggles with addiction and wants to stop, it is crucial to seek out the medical help and emotional support a rehab center can provide. We are here for you, and we genuinely care. Reach out today to get started.

About the Author

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Landmark Recovery Staff

This post was written by a Landmark Recovery staff member. If you have any questions, please contact us at 888-448-0302.

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