How Long Does it Take to Withdrawal from Drugs?

June 29, 2021 | addiction treatment

A great goal to strive for is getting clean. The process takes much work, but defeating addiction is worth the fight. Being sober isn’t just healthier. It’s freedom.

Being sober means building the strength not to use, no matter how hard things get. In doing so, you’ll reach a sense of clarity you never thought possible and even work toward those dreams you’d thought were left behind. 

Since sobriety is so wonderful, it makes you wonder why anyone would ever continue to use despite knowing what they’re doing to themselves every time they use.

The answer is simple. Getting sober isn’t easy. Addiction is nasty and can have a profound impact on one’s mental state. You also can’t forget that some drugs subject users to physical dependencies if they use for prolonged periods. 

Furthermore, those physical dependencies can lead to withdrawals which can be a real risk without proper detox.

Unfortunately, withdrawal is no obscure term. As addictions continue to persist in the USA, we have all had some exposure to them. It may even be a factor that drives one to continue to use because it’s a terrifying reality for many addicts. 

That doesn’t mean everyone fully understands what withdrawals are, though. Nor should it rightfully stand in the way of anyone who truly wants to get sober.

What is withdrawal?

Withdrawal is a collection of both physical and mental symptoms that occur after stopping the use of a drug. The symptoms of withdrawal include anxiety, depression, nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, and even seizures.

You should know that withdrawal symptoms do vary with each individual, as so many factors contribute to the severity. A person’s physical condition, their level of dependence on a drug, and what kind of drug they were using will all contribute to what symptoms they experience, along with how severe they are.

Withdrawal syndrome occurs because our bodies adapt to the drugs or alcohol we use. The human body gradually adapts to the types of substances and balances itself to accommodate their presence. When you suddenly stop, your body remains in that state of adaptation triggering the symptoms of withdrawal.

How long does a withdrawal take?

Because the severity and traits of withdrawal symptoms vary per person based on their condition and the substances they use, the timeline can also vary. At the very least, you can expect symptoms of withdrawal to appear within a few days.

The good news is that the symptoms may only last for a few days before they disappear. Keep in mind that the situation is gradual, meaning they will worsen until they peak then gradually fade. 

Also, you should know that some cases are longer than others. It’s not uncommon for withdrawals to end within a few days, but it’s just as likely that they’ll last for several weeks in extreme cases.  

Do the symptoms of withdrawal come and go?

In severe cases, withdrawal symptoms will persist long after the initial phases. While they aren’t as intense as the initial phase, they can last for weeks or even months after the habit is kicked. This is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS for short.

PAWS is a common situation for those addicted to opioids, anti-psychotics, and alcohol. Because the situation is prolonged, it often makes it challenging to resist relapse and even warrants a specialized medical detox.

Can withdrawals be lethal? 

In cases with severe addictions, withdrawals can be deadly. More potent drugs and higher levels of dependency mean the body will adapt to even more extreme degrees. Suddenly stopping can cause one to become violently ill, and the situation can become deadly.

That’s precisely why medical detox is essential for some patients. Using alternate substances or even the same substance in smaller doses can help one get through their recovery safely.

You need to know that doesn’t mean everyone should slow to a stop or wean off. Addiction is a complicated condition, and some patients are better to stop altogether while others need medical detox.

You shouldn’t assume one or the other is best for your situation, and you should implore the help of trained professionals for recovery. Not only because they can ensure your safe physically, but because they will also ensure you receive the proper emotional and mental support you need to make it to a sound recovery.

While this is a thorough guide to understanding withdrawal, it isn’t meant to serve as a guide to what you can expect. Again, professional help is highly recommended as each situation is unique to the person experiencing it. We encourage you to get clean no matter what. We just know that professional help and support from a proper addiction treatment center is the safest road for anyone to take.