How Long do Drug Detox Symptoms Last?
Drug detox symptoms can last for many different amounts of time, depending on many specific factors. Every individual will have a different timeline for their drug detox, just like for addiction treatment, and should be allowed to take as long as they need to fully withdraw from the drug they have become dependent on. While drug detox can seem to take a very long time for some, it can be about a week for others, which is why you should understand the factors that will control the length of time your drug detox symptoms will last.
Depending on the Drug
Depending on the drug, detox symptoms can last a shorter time or a much longer amount of time. For example, according to the Harvard Medical School, “the effect of a single dose of heroin, a relatively short-acting drug, lasts 4-6 hours, and the withdrawal reaction lasts for about a week.” On the other hand, the NLM states, “The craving and depression can last for months following cessation of long-term heavy use (particularly daily).”
Certain drugs have longer withdrawal times, which will affect the length of time that you will experience symptoms as a result. Opioids and CNS depressants (like benzodiazepines) will often have symptoms that last a week or more while stimulants (like cocaine, amphetamines, and meth) will create symptoms that last much longer than that.
Depending on the Treatment
In detox, you will often receive medication and therapy in order to to help curb some of these symptoms. But they may still be felt for a long time after you stop taking a drug. In some cases, individuals attend treatment for a very long time, in order to manage their symptoms and are not as concerned with detoxing as they are with daily management of their cravings and other issues.
For opioid addicts, methadone maintenance clinics provide this type of treatment and a patient’s withdrawal symptoms will often be managed for a year or more in this case. In another treatment type, a patient will be stabilized on a drug called buprenorphine and then either put on maintenance or started on detoxification. “The alternative to going into (or continuing) a maintenance phase, once stabilization has been achieved, is medically-assisted withdrawal” or detox (SAMHSA). All during this time, the patient will likely still experience withdrawal symptoms but they will become less and less intense.
Depending on the Abuse
Many people experience more intense symptoms or longer symptoms depending on how much they abused a certain drug. The longer the drug was abused, the more difficult it will be to stop and the more the person may experience cravings and other issues. Similarly, if someone abused high doses of a drug, it is more likely that they will experience intense symptoms and deal with symptoms of that abuse for a long time afterward.
It is difficult to gage the length of time that drug detox symptoms will last except on a case-by-case basis. Discussing your particular case with your doctor is important and will give you a good idea of a timeline for when your detox symptoms will finally begin to disappear.