How Long Is Detox?

It’s essential to understand that the goal of any detox program is to allow the body to heal after long-term substance use or addiction. Detoxification is not in itself a treatment, but only the first step in the process. Patients who do not receive any further treatment after detoxification usually resume their drug use (National Institute On Drug Abuse, NIDA). Helping the body flush the drug out of its system and then stabilizing the person so they can transition to long-term treatment is the most effective way to prevent a re-occurrence of use. 

Where and How Long Can Detox Take Place?

Detox can take place in an inpatient facility, depending on the severity of the addiction and the presence of any other medical or mental illnesses. Generally, more severe addiction combined with a co-occurring disorder will result in an inpatient detox program. An average stay at a medically-supervised detox center is seven to ten days. However, the length of time spent in detox depends on the drug a person is addicted to and how long they’ve been abusing the substance. A thorough assessment helps determine the length of time a person should expect to stay in a detox program.

Flushing alcohol or drugs out of your system can be scary, even painful. However, having trained doctors and medical staff available during the detox can help ease the symptoms of withdrawal and ensure your safety during the process. They can also provide medication for the withdrawal symptoms as well as monitor your vitals to make sure your detox process is done safely and correctly. Detox from opioids or alcohol can be a particularly dangerous process, and medical supervision is necessary to ensure a safe withdrawal for the patient. Here’s why:

Alcohol Detox

Alcohol detoxification normally takes anywhere from three days to two weeks, depending on the severity of addiction. Withdrawal symptoms usually start within six to twelve hours after the last drink. However, more intense 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. It is never recommended to detox from alcohol on your own, especially if you’ve been a heavy drinker for years. Doing so may lead to a heart attack or seizures, which could be fatal.

During detox from alcohol, a person may be prescribed medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines, diazepam (Valium), or lorazepam (Ativan), are some of the more commonly prescribed medications to treat alcohol withdrawal. Another medication, Acamprosate (Campral), may reduce symptoms of long-lasting withdrawal, such as insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and generally feeling unwell (NIDA).

Opioid Detox

Detox for heroin and other opioids (methadone, hydrocodone, oxycodone) 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 or more.

According the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), “Opioid withdrawal includes symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, sleep problems, muscle aches, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and drug craving. These symptoms of opioid withdrawal occur both in patients who have been using opioids appropriately as prescribed and in patients with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).” In those with OUD, withdrawal is typically managed by substitution of another opioid medicine, followed by gradual transition to maintenance therapy with treatment drugs such as methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone. Acting on the same targets in the brain as heroin and morphine, methadone and buprenorphine suppress withdrawal symptoms and relieve cravings (National Institute On Drug Abuse, NIDA). 

Also, as of last year, the FDA approved lofexidine, the first medication targeted to treat the physical symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal. Lofexidine is not an opioid and acts to inhibit the release of norepinephrine in the brain. The need to detox first and endure withdrawal symptoms prevents many patients from being treated with naltrexone. Lofexidine could help in making naltrexone more widely used (FDA). 

Detox and Getting Help For Addiction

The detoxification process is crucial, especially if someone is dealing with long-term addiction. The drug detox program at Daylight Recovery Services offers round-the-clock monitoring of the client throughout the entire withdrawal process and is tailored to each individual. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction or a substance use disorder, you are not alone. Addiction is incurable, but treatment is available, and there is hope in recovery. Free yourself from the grip of addiction and get help today—contact one of our recovery experts at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT. 

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier