Detox programs differ in length but can range from three to ten days. The length depends on things like age, drug usage, gender, and health.

Drug overdose death is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 44 Americans die from a prescription opioid overdose daily. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) further estimates that in 2012, over 2 million Americans aged 12 and older were addicted to prescription opioid painkillers, and an additional 467,000 were addicted to heroin.

doctor sitting with female detox patient reviewing their treatment plan

What is Detox?

Detox is ridding the body of alcohol and drugs. It is highly recommended that detox take place in a  medically-supervised setting.

Withdrawal and detoxification are not the same, although they are often confused. Withdrawal refers to the symptoms when someone suddenly stops using drugs or alcohol after regularly using them. Detoxification is the process of clearing the body of toxins.

How Long is Detox?

The length of detox and withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on several factors, including the type of substance, how long you have been using, your age, gender, and overall health.

Alcohol detox symptoms may last up to two weeks or more. However, the actual length will vary based on the individual and how much and how long alcohol has been used.

  • First two days: When someone begins to experience withdrawal symptoms, it may manifest as anxiety, insomnia, or shaking.
  • First three to five days: Symptoms peak within 72 hours. Seizures, fever, and hallucinations may occur.
  • Within the first week: Withdrawal symptoms gradually lessen over time.
  • Beyond the first week: Until treated with therapy, an individual may have urges which can last for several months.

The length of detox from opioids will vary depending on the individual. Symptoms of withdrawal may last up to two weeks and sometimes up to 6 months.

  • First two days: Symptoms might include muscular aches, anxiety, teary eyes, a runny nose, sweating, sleeplessness, and frequent yawning, which can begin as soon as two hours.
  • First three to five days: Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, goosebumps, vision blurring, and a fast heart rate are examples of symptoms at their most severe.
  • Within the first week: While symptoms may lessen, patients may still experience digestive difficulties, loss of appetite, dehydration, or seizures.
  • Beyond the first week: For severe addictions, the after-effects, such as insomnia, irritability, cravings, sweating, anxiety, and depression, may last up to 6 months or more.

The length of detox from benzodiazepines will vary depending on the individual. Symptoms of withdrawal may last up to two weeks, sometimes up to a month.

  • First two days: The early symptoms include feeling irritated, nauseous, having a headache, and muscle pain.
  • First three to five days: Anxiety, irritability, shakiness, restlessness, dry-retching, and palpitations are some of the possible symptoms.
  • Within the first week: In many circumstances, insomnia following a drug or alcohol withdrawal is referred to as rebound insomnia.
  • Beyond the first week: Since severe withdrawal can last up to two weeks, symptoms like weight loss, difficulty concentrating, and changes in perceptual abilities are possible.

Meth detox will take different lengths of time for different people depending on many factors, but it may take about two weeks to complete the detox.

  • First two days: The initial withdrawal symptoms may include fatigue, body aches, irritability, and altered mood.
  • First three to five days: Depressive or psychotic symptoms associated with brain damage.
  • Within the first week: Fatigue, sleep issues, intense drug cravings, depression, and poor concentration.
  • Beyond the first week: Withdrawal symptoms from stimulants are difficult to overcome, especially drug cravings, which can last for months.

The length of detox from barbiturates will vary depending on the individual. Symptoms of withdrawal may last up to two weeks, sometimes up to a month.

  • First two days: Some symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, shaking, or circulation problems may begin within hours.
  • First three to five days: The effects of the drug will peak after a few days, depending on how strong the dose was and how severe the abuse was.
  • Within the first week: Withdrawal symptoms may be delayed for some people, beginning a week or more after the last dose.
  • Beyond the first week: May experience insomnia which will worse­n until treated.

The length of detox from hallucinogens will vary depending on the individual. Symptoms of withdrawal may last up to two weeks, and in some cases, up to a month.

  • First two days: The early symptoms include feeling agitated, anxious, depressed, and having difficulty sleeping.
  • First two days: Headaches, cravings, and sweating are all potential withdrawal symptoms.
  • First three to five days: If withdrawal symptoms occur within the first week of detox, they should peak and then lessen.
  • Within the first week: Alterations to the brain’s dopamine reward system can temporarily change mood until your chemistry balances out again.
  • Beyond the first week: People who use PCP often experience strong cravings for the drug afterward.
  • First two days: Because marijuana is not physically addictive, no withdrawal symptoms are associated with its cessation.
  • First three to five days: Mood swings, decreased hunger, migraines, sleeplessness, and gastrointestinal difficulties are all signs of withdrawal.
  • Within the first week: Mood swings, irritability, loss of focus, drug cravings, and increased feelings of sadness.
  • Beyond the first week: Most symptoms will likely disappear once the body starts producing THC again.

Methods of Detox

There are a few ways to detox from drugs and alcohol, but the most important factor will always be safety. Below are three of the most common methods of detox.

Medical Detox: This is when you are under the care of a medical professional in a hospital or detox facility. You will be monitored 24/7 to ensure your safety and comfort. This is the best for opioid detox or if you have other health complications.

Cold Turkey: This is when you suddenly stop using drugs or alcohol without medical assistance. This method can be very dangerous and may cause severe withdrawal symptoms.

Tapering: This is when you slowly reduce your intake of drugs or alcohol over a period of time. This can help to lessen withdrawal symptoms and make detox more tolerable.

How long detox takes depends on your chosen method and the drug you are withdrawing from. However, most people will start to feel better after a few days or weeks.

What to Expect from the Detox Process

The detox process is different for everyone. Some people will have mild symptoms, while others will have more severe ones. The length of time you experience withdrawal symptoms will also vary. In general, the detox process can be divided into three phases:

Phase 1: This is the initial phase of withdrawal, and it typically lasts for a few days. You may experience mild symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, and fatigue during this time.

Phase 2: This is the second withdrawal phase, usually lasting for a week or two. During this time, you may experience more severe symptoms such as depression, insomnia, and drug cravings.

Phase 3: This is the final withdrawal phase, which can last for weeks or months. You may experience lingering symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, and depression during this time. You may also continue to experience drug cravings.

Looking for a Place to Start?

If you or someone you love is struggling with an alcohol addiction or drug addiction, getting help as soon as possible is important. Agape Detox can help you find the right treatment program for your needs. 

We offer various detox and treatment options and long-term recovery to help you achieve sobriety. If you’re ready to get started on the journey of sobriety, whether for yourself or a loved one, contact us today to learn more.

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