Battling a drug or alcohol addiction can put your life at a crossroads. You may be at the mercy of your substance of choice, but before too long, you suddenly realize you have a terrible problem and need help. This is true: whether your addiction involves alcohol or drugs, it’s a serious disease, and just like an illness such as cancer or heart disease, you need treatment. Typically, the first step in getting help is the detox process.
Also known as detox, it means you enter a program at a facility to eliminate the harmful, toxic substance from your body. Only after you have completed this process are you able to move forward with your treatment and enter rehab and get counseling and other options that can help you get back to your sober self. Many people question how long a typical stay at a detox center lasts.
How Long Is Your Stay in Detox?
The detox process doesn’t just involve the elimination of all traces of alcohol and drugs from your body; it also deals with the aftermath, which is when you go through the symptoms of withdrawal. Depending on your own personal factors, especially the substance you have abused, how much of it you have taken and how long you’ve abused it, your withdrawal symptoms can last for a short time or much longer. Likewise, your symptoms might be mild and cause only little discomfort or severe, causing you pain and misery. When you enter a detox center, you might be there a few days or even as long as a few years. Again, it depends on a variety of factors, including the following:
- Whether you abused alcohol or drugs, and if you abused drugs, which specific ones you took
- Whether you abused multiple substances
- How often you abused the substance or substances
- How you took the substance
- How much of the substance you abused
- The last time you ingested the substance
- Whether you have any co-occurring mental health disorders
- Your overall medical history
- Your age
- Your gender
- Whether you are taking prescription medications that might counteract your withdrawal symptoms
How Long Does a Detox Program Last?
Detox treatment programs are in place to help people with substance use disorder to ease them through withdrawal. Overall, the length of time a program lasts depends on each individual, but on average, they can last anywhere from three to 10 days. If medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is needed, it might last a bit on the longer side. Detox is the first part of addiction recovery, but it is not a substitute for any other component of your addiction treatment. Other services and therapy are a huge part of helping you to get clean and sober and stay that way over the long term.
How Long Does Detox from Different Substances Take?
Undergoing detox for different substances can vary in length. This is what to expect with the following substances: • Alcohol: If you are addicted to alcohol, detox is done with medications to help ease your withdrawal symptoms. The process can take a few days to two weeks. Withdrawal from alcohol can be serious, even fatal, which is why it’s impossible to quit cold turkey if you’ve been addicted for years and were a heavy drinker.
• Opioids: Detox from opioids takes around a week to 10 days. Withdrawal symptoms can start within the first 24 hours, but in severe cases, it can last as long as a month. You cannot quit cold turkey because it can be dangerous. Medications are necessary during the detox process.
• Benzodiazepines: Withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepines can be fatal, so it’s necessary to taper off by lowering the amount of drugs in your system during detox. The process can take around two to eight weeks, but some people might need to remain in the facility even longer.
• Methadone: Although methadone has historically been used to help with heroin addiction treatment, it can also be addictive. While not usually fatal, withdrawal can lead to a relapse. On average, those who have detox for methadone often spend 10 to 20 days in treatment.
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