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How Long Does It Take to Detox From Drugs?
Author: Phil Kosanovich
Published: September 22, 2022
This blog discusses how long detox takes, as well as the processes that detox involves.

Attempting to stop drug abuse or break an addiction can be challenging and dangerous. However, with the help of a medical detox program, it is possible.

But how long does it take to detox from drugs or alcohol? This blog may help you understand the detoxification process and what it entails.

Drug Addiction or Abuse

It is important to understand addiction and drug abuse when attempting to place a timeline on detox. There are millions of different kinds of drugs, and they each have a set of individual ways of causing addiction and leading someone to drug abuse. Similarly, stopping their use will affect a person in various ways.

However, the common factors in addiction and abuse are what call for drug detox and perhaps further help at a treatment facility.

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Drug Addiction

An addiction occurs when there is a dysfunction in the brain. Repetitive drug use causes an alteration to the part of our brains that influence motivation, reward, and memory. It causes an increased craving for a drug and lessens our ability to exert self-control over using more of the substance. An uncontrolled dependency, compulsion, obsession, or habit in taking the substance despite the way it affects a person negatively is considered an addiction.

Drug abuse often happens when a person is suffering from an addiction and can not handle the effects of stopping the use of a substance. Substance abuse can mean that a person uses an excessive amount of the drug, attempts to obtain the drug illegally or at risky costs, or uses it in ways other than what is healthy or intended.

Drug addiction and abuse are often associated with a substance use disorder, a mental disorder where a person may have no control over consuming an illegal drug. A CDC report placed 20.4 million people in the United States meeting the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder in 2019.

Addiction can also develop from prescription painkillers or other prescription medications. It is not a requirement to abuse a drug to go through the withdrawal symptoms, or undergo a detox program.

What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?

An alcohol or drug addiction causes a person’s body to become used to the presence of these substances. The brain has to adjust to a drop or change of chemicals when the substance is no longer present, and this is what causes a range of unpleasant or painful withdrawal symptoms in the body and mind.

Severe addictions cause severe withdrawal symptoms, and often keep a person in addiction or lead them to abuse.

Even mild withdrawal symptoms can result in a person returning to drug use despite having a great desire to become or remain clean. There are both psychological withdrawal symptoms and physical withdrawal symptoms, and they vary in intensity according to the type of drug used, the duration of its use, and other factors like co-occurring mental health problems.

Stimulants like cocaine or meth may make someone feel body aches and irritability, and cause an unstable mood or weakness. Abusing these substances can also lead to intense drug cravings, depression, and erratic sleep when attempting to stop.

In comparison, alcohol withdrawal presents different symptoms. A depressant like alcohol can cause tremors, hallucinations, seizures, anxiety, depression, nausea, and heart palpitations when withdrawal symptoms begin.

Tell Me the Meaning of Detox

The timeframe in which a person avoids a specific substance in order to get rid of chemicals and toxins present in drug addiction is called detox. Given enough time, detoxification can happen naturally, but a medically assisted detox may be used to speed up a recovery process or to fight mental or physical symptoms of withdrawal.

Although no medication exists to prevent withdrawal symptoms, controlled medication may be given to lessen anxiety and depression, improve sleep, or counteract pain. Clinical intervention in the detox process is largely dependent on the kind of addiction a person is struggling with, and whether symptoms of withdrawal are greatly prohibiting their recovery.

Detox ensures that a person is physically ready to start various therapies to address their addiction.

Can I Detox on My Own?

It is a huge risk to attempt a detox process outside medical intervention. Detox symptoms can be dangerous and sometimes fatal, and professional care is needed for both mental and physical health.

Attempting to go cold turkey is especially dangerous. A person’s body may rid itself of the substance, but problems in the nervous system caused by addiction can not be addressed without professional care.

Drug withdrawal timelines often come with the risk of depression and anxiety, while a person may simultaneously undergo physical symptoms that their body is not able to handle. People who attempt to stop alcohol abuse may experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can cause death, such as a seizure condition known as delirium tremens. This requires immediate medical attention.

Recovery from a severe addiction means that a person will experience withdrawal symptoms more severely, and hence may need extra medical attention in both detox and therapy. Medical professionals at a treatment center are trained for ensuring a person makes a safe recovery when stopping the use of drugs. They can evaluate a person’s medical history to make sure that the use of medicine or different drugs does not interfere with a person’s recovery.

How Long Is the Detox Process?


As every individual is different, treatment options may vary. How long detox takes depends on the kind of drug used, the duration and amount of drug use, and the intensity of withdrawal. It also depends on when a person had their last dose of the drug.

For example, alcohol detox presents withdrawal symptoms within one day of the last drink, and symptoms peak around the third day. They can then last a few weeks. Heroin detox usually lasts for about one week, whereas detox from sleeping pills may be only a few days. Someone who has abused multiple substances may undergo a longer detox program.

Detox Timelines

There is a general timeline or detox period that is most common. Typically, the detox process takes between three to fourteen days. Usually, people can move beyond the biggest withdrawal issues and merge with other rehabilitation therapies after the first week or two.

It is vital to know that the detox process does not only include the initial symptoms a person experiences. Drug cravings can last several weeks or even months after the initial phase of a detox program, which is why it is important to never abandon a drug detox until a person is emotionally and physically strong.

Drug detox at a drug rehab or a treatment facility is always advised, as a person will have round-the-clock help available, and can easily transition into additional therapy such as addiction treatment.

Later Stages of Detox Programs

Our detox program in Orange County includes transitioning from the detox program into normal life in a gradual process, which is crucial to many for long-term recovery. Studies from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimate that in 2019, 20.5 million people in the United States were in recovery from substance use problems.

Addiction treatment at a drug rehab addresses the psychological symptoms of drug addiction, as well as the causes. After a few days of abstaining from a substance, an extended period of time is assigned to the treatment of a person’s well-being.

Many patients have a much higher chance for a full and long-term recovery when underlying or co-occurring causes of their addiction are dealt with. The later stages of detox involve identifying these and providing guidance on how to handle them.

Often cognitive-behavioral therapy and group therapy help in treating addiction, but there are many other treatment options available.

Where Can I Find a Professional Detox Program?

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, seeking professional help is the first step toward recovery.

At Cornerstone, treatment for addiction is our expertise. Our detox programs are tailored to individual needs and offer various lengths of stay. A person can undergo a medically supervised detox in our inpatient program, or receive a treatment plan in our outpatient program.

We understand overcoming addiction can be extremely difficult. That is why our treatment programs are focused on keeping and enhancing self-esteem and dignity and providing someone with the tools for a healthy recovery. Our aftercare program will ensure that you find support in maintaining abstinence even after leaving our facility, giving you the best chance for a healthier and happier life.