How Long Does Medical Detox Take?
Medical detox helps people withdraw from drugs or alcohol in relative comfort and safety under the careful watch of qualified clinicians and staff members such as doctors, nurses, and psychiatrists.
How long does medical detox take is a question most individuals ask immediately and for which there is no easy answer. It all depends on several factors including the biological conditions of the individual, the type, amounts, methods, and duration of drugs used, current intoxication levels, and of course, the choice of detox methods.
Who Needs Medical Detox?
According to the SAMHSA, “detoxification refers not only to the reduction of the physiological and psychological features of withdrawal syndromes, but also to the process of interrupting the momentum of compulsive use in persons diagnosed with substance dependence.” A greater intensity of services and 24 hour nursing care in medical detox may be necessary for some.
Individuals who have compromised health or co-existing mental health problems may experience a greater degree of withdrawal discomfort requiring specialized services to stabilize and keep them safe through the acute withdrawal phase. Without medical care, their symptoms can become dangerously complicated and even the minor symptoms of dehydration and vitamin or nutrient deficiencies can lead to greater health risks.
Certain drugs also cause more symptoms of pain, distress, cravings, and other physiological disturbances during withdrawal requiring the use of medications to maintain the levels of comfort that would keep them engaged in the process. Chronic opioid, stimulant, benzodiazepine, or alcohol addictions are often the most difficult drugs to detox from and without a medical detox, the users may resume drug use before the detox is complete placing themselves in higher jeopardy of overdose.
Other Factors that Influence How Long Medical Detox Takes
Most people undergo medical detox averaging 3 to 7 days. Sometimes it takes longer to reach stability and taper off of the medications used in the medical detox treatments. For instance, medical detox for opiates may last 10 to 14 days and for benzodiazepines, the average may be from 7 – 10 days. Other factors that influence how long medical detox takes include:
- Metabolism rates – some people are ultra-metabolizers and some are much slower
- Overall health status including physical and psychological impairments
- Potentials for relapse
- Neurological adaptations to the drugs that take more time to be restored to normal
- Hydration, vitamin, or mineral deficiencies that can impact hormones, organ functions, and drug eliminations
- Poly-substance abuse and methods of drug use including rapid delivery methods of smoking or intravenous injections
- Symptom logy and complications that occurs in the process