Music City Detox

How Long Does it Take to Detox?

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What happens during drug withdrawal? How long does it take to detox? When you know the answers to questions like these, you can eliminate fear of the unknown and make informed decisions about how best to end your substance abuse.

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What Happens During Detox?

Detoxification, or detox, is the process of eliminating dangerous substances (toxins) from your body. In the case of addiction detox, these toxins may be alcohol, benzodiazepines, opioids, or other drugs.

When you use a substance long enough, your body will begin to adapt to its presence. When you abruptly stop using the substance – or when you are prevented from acquiring and/or using it – your body will struggle to rebalance itself in the absence of the drug.

The painful physical and psychological symptoms that you experience during this rebalancing process are referred to collectively as withdrawal or detox.

Depending on a host of individual factors, including which drug you have become addicted to, common physical withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Fever and chills
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Tics and twitches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Exhaustion

The psychological impact of detox often includes:

  • Powerful drug cravings
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Dramatic mood swings

In extreme cases, detox can involve particularly severe symptoms, such as:

  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Tics, tremors, and seizure
  • Dangerous changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Suicidal ideation

How Long Does it Take to Detox?

In general, the answer to the question, how long does it take to detox, is that it usually takes a week or two.

However, the type and intensity of withdrawal symptoms aren’t the only aspect of detox that can vary from one person to the next. Determining how long does it take to detox can also depend on a host of individual factors, such as:

  • Your age, gender, weight, and metabolism
  • Which drug you have become addicted to
  • How long you have been using that drug
  • How much of the drug you usually use
  • If you have any medical or mental health concerns

You will usually begin to experience withdrawal symptoms within 24-48 hours after the last time you used the drug. In some cases, symptoms can begin to occur as quickly as six hours after your last dose.

Often, symptoms will gradually intensify over the following three to five days. Once they have peaked, they will usually then begin to subside. In many – but by no means all – cases, these symptoms will dissipate within the next few days.

For some people, the withdrawal process can be over in as little as five days. For others, it can take a full two weeks, or even a bit longer. Among people who develop a condition called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), some symptoms can persist for several months, or even years.

Risks of Trying to Detox on Your Own

When they realize they have become dependent on alcohol or another drug, many people initially attempt to end their substance abuse on their own.

Some try to taper their use of the drug, slowly reducing how much they use and how often they use it, until they’re at a point where they can stop completely. Others attempt to quit “cold turkey,” or abruptly stop using the drug without tapering or making any other adjustments.

Either of these approaches can be effective, but they both also present considerable risks. For example:

  • Tapering your use of an addictive substance can be extremely difficult to do. One of the characteristics of addiction is that once you start using a substance, you may find it virtually impossible to stop. For example, if you’ve become addicted to alcohol, trying to just have one or two drinks may not be nearly as easy as you hoped.
  • Trying and failing to taper your substance use can feel like a failure, and may cause you to believe that you simply aren’t able to quit. This can delay your efforts to seek help, which means you will remain at risk of the myriad dangers that can result from chronic substance abuse.
  • Stopping cold turkey can cause the rapid onset of many of the physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that we listed in the previous section. Even though these symptoms usually don’t last that long, when you are in the midst of withdrawal, they can easily become overwhelming.
  • When you try to detox on your own at home, it won’t be difficult for you to access the substance you’ve become addicted to. As your symptoms become more intense, the knowledge that you can alleviate your distress by using the substance again can quickly push you back into your bad old habits.
  • Detox doesn’t usually cause lasting physical or psychological damage. But in some circumstances – especially severe cases of alcohol addiction – withdrawal can be a life-threatening experience. In situations like this, the absence of professional oversight can be fatal.

One way to avoid these risks and increase your likelihood of successful withdrawal is to begin your recovery journey in a detox program.

When you choose a reputable program like Music City Detox, you will be in a closely supervised environment where you won’t have access to addictive substances. Depending on your needs, the detox staff may provide both medical and therapeutic support to protect your health and help you manage your symptoms.

Then, as you near the end of your time in detox, your treatment team can work with you to determine which type of follow-on care is best for you. Entering a residential or outpatient program after detox can significantly improve your ability to resist relapse and achieve successful, long-term recovery.

Begin Detox in Nashville

If the distress of withdrawal has been preventing you from ending your abuse of alcohol or another addictive substance, Music City Detox is here to help.

At our detox program in Nashville, Tennessee, you will receive personalized services from a team of dedicated professionals. We understand the many challenges of addiction and withdrawal, and we are committed to providing the customized, evidence-based services that can help you achieve true and lasting healing in mind, body, and spirit.

To learn more about how we can help you or a loved one, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.