How Long Does Drug Detox Take?

Millions of individuals across the United States struggle with addiction. While many people want to overcome their addiction, detoxification presents a huge barrier to success. Drug withdrawal symptoms can be almost unbearable. Consequently, many individuals who try to achieve sobriety on their own end up using drugs again to alleviate the symptoms of detox. Fortunately, drug withdrawal isn’t impossible to deal with, and a little knowledge about the subject can be very beneficial. Therefore, if someone in your life suffers from drug addiction, then you should take a look at this overview of what to expect from the detox process.

Drug Detox

What Is Detoxification?

When a person consumes a drug, their brain releases endorphins, serotonin, and other important chemicals that affect a person’s mood and physical state. After prolonged use of a substance, the body adjusts its natural production of these key hormones. Consequently, when a person suddenly stops using a drug, the body experiences a hormonal imbalance and has to work extra hard to function normally. This period of adjustment leads to several uncomfortable symptoms. If a person continues to abstain from a substance, then their body will completely get rid of all traces of a substance, and their hormones will gradually return to normal levels. This is the detoxification process, and with sustained sobriety, an individual will eventually feel normal again after the body fully adjusts to a life without drugs.

What Are the Symptoms of Withdrawal?


When someone mentions drug withdrawal, they’re usually talking about a patient’s symptoms as they undergo the detox process. People may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms within hours of their last dose. Therefore, you should look for the following symptoms if you suspect that someone in your life is suffering from addiction. Of course, because many of these symptoms can result from other medical issues, you shouldn’t take any one of these symptoms as definitive proof that someone is using drugs. Moreover, some symptoms will be more pronounced with different substances. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Abnormal temperature
  • Excess perspiration
  • Anxiety
  • Aches and pains
  • Hallucinations
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Poor concentration
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Irritability
  • Shaking
  • Drowsiness


Does Everyone Experience Detox the Same Way?

Detox can vary considerably between individuals. Factors such as age, overall health, the type of substance that they use, their history with the substance, and genetics can impact the nature and severity of a person’s symptoms. An obese 65-year-old man with a heroin problem and other medical conditions is likely going to have a different experience than a 20-year-old woman who has an active lifestyle and struggles with barbiturate addiction. Still, each person will face significant withdrawal symptoms after they quit using drugs, and neither individual will completely detox right away.

How Long Does Drug Detox Take?

Patients typically notice early withdrawal symptoms within hours of their last dose. The exact timing depends on the individual’s metabolism, the extent of their addiction, and the nature of the substance in question. Still, most people will experience fatigue, sweating, muscle pain, mild temperature fluctuations, and other minor symptoms within the first couple of days of quitting.

Symptoms often peak between three and five days after the last dose. At this stage, patients may endure heart palpitations, extreme anxiety, confusion, vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, and blurry vision. Near the end of the first week of sobriety, the worst symptoms will begin to taper off. Still, patients will likely feel tired, anxious, irritable, and depressed. On top of that, they may still struggle with gastrointestinal issues, general discomfort, aches and pains, poor sleep, difficulty focusing, and loss of appetite. Emotional and cognitive symptoms may persist to some extent for several weeks or months after achieving sobriety.

Can You Speed Up the Detox Process?

The detox process takes time. A healthy person whose kidneys and liver function properly will likely get through the process more quickly than someone with organ damage or an unhealthy lifestyle. Nonetheless, even the strongest kidneys and liver can only metabolize a substance so quickly, and a person’s hormone levels won’t instantly adjust to a sober lifestyle.


After the initial stages of detox, a person may be able to slightly boost their body’s natural processes with proper hydration, regular exercise, a good diet, and a generally healthy lifestyle. However, at the end of the day, there aren’t any shortcuts. Patients will have to endure unpleasant withdrawal symptoms for several days, and they will likely experience milder symptoms for several months after becoming sober. Therefore, patients should be skeptical of products or facilities that claim to hasten the detox process.

Is It a Good Idea To Detox at Home?

Wishing to avoid the cost of an addiction treatment program, many individuals try to go through the detox process at home. While quitting cold turkey and enduring withdrawal symptoms may cost less than professional treatment, the odds of success are much lower without professional help. If a person tries to detox at home, then they probably still have access to their substance of choice. While it’s easy for a person to say that they won’t give in at the beginning, it will become much harder to resist the temptation to use drugs as withdrawal symptoms start to become very unpleasant.

Moreover, the detox process can pose several serious health and safety risks, so it’s better to go through withdrawals with medical supervision. At a detox facility, addiction professionals and medical staff will be right there if the patient is struggling emotionally or needs medical attention. A reputable detox center will also remove an individual from their supply of drugs while making the process as safe and comfortable as possible. Consequently, patients will be much more likely to get through the most difficult withdrawal symptoms with the help of professionals at a high-quality detox facility. Many insurance policies cover addiction treatment, and patients may be able to work out a payment plan, so the cost of a program doesn’t have to get in the way of a person’s recovery.

What Treatment Options Are Available After Detox?

Detox is only the first part of an effective substance abuse treatment program. After successfully getting through the worst withdrawal symptoms, patients can choose between various inpatient and outpatient programs. A substance abuse professional will recommend the best program for a patient’s needs and circumstances.

Many patients shift to a residential treatment program after detox. Residential programs can go on for several weeks, and they typically include a mixture of individual therapies, group therapies, holistic therapies, and medical checkups. At Recreate Life Counseling, patients can also enroll in gender-specific groups and receive trauma treatment. Inpatient programs are especially effective because they give patients access to constant care. On top of that, inpatient programs restrict a patient’s contact with drugs and drug-related triggers as they navigate this crucial phase of the recovery process.

Treatment Options

Many people have busy lives and don’t have the time or resources to receive inpatient treatment. However, they may still require a high level of care so that they don’t relapse. An intensive outpatient program is a great solution for such individuals. Patients typically spend more than 10 hours per week in group therapy, individual therapy, family therapy, and continuing care in an intensive outpatient program.

As a patient builds the skills necessary to maintain a sober lifestyle, they eventually will not need the high level of care involved in an inpatient program or an intensive outpatient program. A standard outpatient program is a good way for patients to transition into a normal lifestyle. At this point, patients will typically spend under 10 hours per week in individual counseling and group therapy sessions. Addiction professionals will help the patient develop plans to maintain a sober lifestyle, deal with emergencies, and prevent relapse as they start to get into the rhythm of day-to-day life.

How Can a Person Sustain Sobriety?

Staying sober requires a few permanent lifestyle changes. First and foremost, patients must be in an environment where they can avoid drugs and the kinds of people who encourage or trigger their drug use. This may mean that they have to find new accommodations in their city or move away from an area entirely. On top of that, patients need supportive friends and family members who will treat them with compassion and help facilitate their sober lifestyle. Many patients also connect with support groups in their area to discuss their experiences with individuals who struggle with similar problems.

Enroll in the Right Treatment Program Today for the Best Results

Addiction can be extremely destructive. Individuals who suffer from addiction are one overdose away from death or severe medical complications. It’s simply impossible for a person to live a healthy life when they struggle with substance abuse. Nonetheless, getting past the first stages of detox and building the necessary skills to maintain a sober lifestyle can be very challenging. Thankfully, nobody has to go through detox alone. If someone in your life is struggling with addiction, then you should reach out to Recreate Life Counseling as soon as possible to put them on the path to a better future.