Detox is considered a valuable part of the recovery process. Detox helps individuals struggling with addiction to rid the body of drugs, alcohol, and other toxins they have encountered as a result of addiction. Removing drugs and alcohol from the body is necessary for recovery, but flushing them out can be scary and even painful. Having medical staff available during the detox process can ease withdrawal symptoms in several ways. But how long is detox?
Drug Detoxification Explained
Detox is one phase of substance use and addiction treatment. Detox takes place before rehabilitation, outpatient services, and aftercare programs. During this initial phase, medical professionals are available to monitor and treat individuals in withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. They can administer medications, provide supplements and help the body restore the balance that was lost due to addiction.
How Long Is Detox?
So, how long is detox? Different drugs affect the body differently. Depending on which substances are being used, the length of time a person needs to detox can vary greatly. A team of addiction specialists can assess each individual and create a treatment plan that is unique to each situation.
How Long is Alcohol Detox?
Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Alcohol detoxification can take anywhere from three days to two weeks, depending on the severity of the alcohol addiction. A person who has been drinking heavily for five years decides to quit cold turkey; they may have seizures, become delirious, or experience cardiac arrest. All of these can result in death.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually emerge within six to twelve hours after the last drink. However, the more intense, deadly symptoms can take days or even a week to emerge. Being supervised at a detox center during this time can help keep a person safe. During detox, a person may be prescribed medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines, like chlordiazepoxide (Librium), diazepam (Valium), or lorazepam (Ativan), are some of the most commonly prescribed medications to treat alcohol withdrawal. Benzodiazepines decrease anxiety, help with sleep, and control seizures. Under medical supervision, benzos are prescribed during withdrawal, and the person is slowly weaned off them. This process can take up to 14 days.
How Long is Drug Detox?
Detox for heroin and other opioids (morphine, hydrocodone) typically lasts about seven to ten days. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can begin within the first 24 hours and, for those who use opioids chronically, may last up to a month. Opioid detox is uncomfortable and can be extremely painful. However, it is not usually fatal unless someone combines opioids with other drugs. Opioid replacement therapies involve removing opioids, like heroin or Vicodin, and introducing another opioid medication that reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Using a gradual tapering method, the person eventually can be opioid-free. Methadone and buprenorphine are the two most common medications to treat opioid addiction. Lucemyra (lofexidine hydrochloride) was approved in 2018 to assist in treating opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be fatal. Attending a detox center for benzo withdrawal can last two to eight weeks, sometimes longer. The withdrawal symptoms associated with benzo addiction can last weeks and, in some cases, months. The type of benzo and length of addiction affect how long a person will experience withdrawal symptoms. The initial withdrawal symptoms usually last about one to four days. Depending on which benzo is being used, symptoms begin within the first six to 24 hours after the last dose is taken. Acute withdrawal symptoms last several weeks. At a detox center, a tapering method is used to gradually reduce the levels of benzodiazepines in the body, alleviating many withdrawal symptoms. Tapering also lowers the chance of rebound effects, like insomnia and anxiety. Once a person has removed all benzodiazepines from their body, substance use treatment is important to consider. Benzo addiction, in particular, can result in long-term rebound effects and withdrawal symptoms. Learning how to manage these symptoms can help maintain sobriety.
A person struggling with methadone addiction can spend ten to 20 days at a detox center. Although methadone is an opioid, it stays in the body longer, which is why withdrawal symptoms last much longer than other opioids. Methadone withdrawal is just as uncomfortable as other opioid withdrawal symptoms. It is not usually fatal, but the discomfort and pain associated with methadone withdrawal can cause a person to relapse, even if they want to stop using.
Detox Protocols and Plans
A detox program typically begins with a thorough evaluation. The treatment team typically assesses the following information to develop a protocol unique to the person seeking detox:
- Length of substance use
- Last time drugs or alcohol were consumed
- Past attempts at sobriety
- Medical history
- Mental health status
This information is used to develop a tentative treatment plan. This plan can be modified and adjusted based on the progress and needs of the person.
Detox Safely at Vertava Health
When seeking addiction treatment, exploring detox centers is an important step. Detox centers exist to help ease a person through withdrawal, into substance use treatment, and toward a life of sobriety. We are available to answer any questions and concerns you may have about detox centers and addiction treatment options. Reach out to us today at 844.451.0263 and allow us to help you or your loved one.