How Long Does Detox Take?

People who are in active addiction often dread a process called withdrawal. During withdrawal, the body responds to being deprived of the drugs and/or alcohol it is addicted to. Each withdrawal from a drug is different. For example, patients who are addicted to alcohol may experience seizures. Heroin addicts report flu-type symptoms and a torturous sickness of both the body and mind, complete with sweating, headaches, confusion, depression, and nausea. People enter a detox in the hopes of enduring the process of withdrawal more comfortably.

There is no one way to eliminate all withdrawal symptoms from drug addiction, but detox centers can employ a variety of medical and psychological interventions that make the withdrawal phase of recovery more bearable for their clients. How long it takes to detox from a drug and how long you’ll stay in a treatment center is inevitably a bit different. You’ll get through the actual withdrawal symptoms in the first few weeks. From there, you’re going to encounter still something known as craving. Recovery is a life long journey, but the crucial first few months are often the beginning of making that journey beautiful and worthwhile after the rough start.


The length of a treatment program varies depending on the program. Some programs may be a medically-inclined program that lasts only a week and gets you through that rough seven-day patch where physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms of withdrawal are the worst. Some programs will last 30 days, others 60, and still others may last 90 days or even longer. Residential treatment is a popular form of treatment. A halfway house falls in this category, but it generally isn’t considered a detox.

Detox itself is a rigorous experience, and anyone who’s ever gone without a drug of choice knows that there’s no way to sugarcoat just how frightening it is to go through withdrawal. Detox centers know the mechanisms that cause withdrawal, and therefore they’re able to combat the symptoms during a stay.


Each drug takes a different length of time to withdrawal from. For example, alcohol leaves the body much quicker than other drugs, causing violent, frightening withdrawal symptoms for those who are severely addicted. Alcoholics may hallucinate, sweat, shake violently, or even have seizures. Symptoms only last 3-5 days, though, and then everything begins to even out and return to normal. Opiates take a much longer toll on the body and mind, and you may find that common symptoms of opiate withdrawal are strongest in the first month, but the symptoms themselves can present themselves in a less severe form for as long as six months.

Given that every drug has a different length of withdrawal symptoms, it’s natural that there are treatment centers that offer varying lengths of program time. If you are an alcoholic, you may not need detox type treatment for longer than a week, but you will inevitably need more extended care than that if your addiction was severe. Why? Well, there’s a phenomenon of craving that exists with all recovering drug addicts, and you’ll find that craving goes on long beyond the detox time. Triggers for use are all around alcoholics, as alcohol is perhaps the only socially accepted and even revered drug in the world. For alcoholics, the everyday world can prove a tempting place.


Before selecting a detox, make sure that you choose a facility that has a treatment length that works for your specific addiction. If you’re addicted to alcohol, you can likely get through the detox period in a week or two. If you’re on opiates, you might want to select at least a 90-day program and then get a referral for a transitional housing program. Detox itself may abate mostly by month three, but if you’re still experiencing intense cravings, you need a safe place.

Each addict will be different and the amount of time it takes to break an addiction is also different. There are even addicts who somehow manage to get through the detox period on their own before entering a transitional housing program, but as the old saying goes, don’t be a hero. There is an abundant amount of help for addiction. Whatever length of treatment you choose, any length of time in treatment is going to shed new light on the issues that are leading you down a path of addiction. Detox itself may be over in a few months, but recovery itself extends for the duration of life. It is in the little things that addicts do as they are recovering. Something as simple as getting your first job after out of treatment, or meeting a new friend, can be an experience related to recovery.


Rebuilding your life after a drug addiction always begins at the beginning: detox. Your body has to rid itself of the last drugs you’ve used, and then it has to start readjusting to a drug-free state. During your addiction, your brain chemistry and body changed. It will take time for your body and mind to go back to the state it was in before you began using, and this can take a substantial amount of time. During your time in treatment, you’ll learn more about addiction, what’s been happening to you while you were using, and, most importantly, what’s happening to you now that you’ve stopped using.

You’ll be in a state of change for quite some time, and at first, that’s scary. After you’ve detoxed, you’ll find that the prospect of recovery is an exciting time in your life. You’ll meet new friends in group meetings that become like family. You’ll learn more about how to enjoy life without drugs, and eventually, you’ll find that your life is better than it has ever before. If you have co-existing mental health conditions, you may get help for those for the first time in your life. In short, any length of time in treatment is a positive thing.

As you go through detox, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, and some of those things you won’t like. The treatment center is trained to help you cope with those things and change them if you want to. Recovery itself is an ongoing process that will follow you through life and help you deal with life on life’s terms. Detox will be your first exposure to the recovery process, and once you’re through detox, the real fun begins. That’s when you get to learn a whole new way of life.

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