how long does drug detox take?

Drug detox technically means something different from drug rehab. How long detox takes depends on a variety of factors, including what type of substances are involved, how long the person has been using them and how much they are taking. Even factors such as a person’s age and health can come into play when it comes to how long drug detox takes. Find out more about the drug detox timeline below, and if you’re dealing with addiction and ready to take the first step toward a clean and sober future, call New Day Recovery to find out about treatment options today.

Drug Detox Versus Drug Rehab

Many people use the terms drug detox and drug rehab interchangeably, often to refer to inpatient treatment for drug addiction or any long-term work toward recovery. For the sake of the discussion on timelines, though, drug detox is being defined as the treatment specific to the first step in rehab: allowing the body to clear itself of the substance and get through the withdrawal period so that you can concentrate fully on rehab after that. In short, detox is one part of rehab.

Detox-Specific Treatment Options

Whether or not you need specific clinical interventions for detox depends on what type of addiction you are struggling with and whether withdrawal symptoms are a major challenge in your recovery. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms, which can range from uncomfortable to dangerous, cause people to return to their drug of choice even if they have a deep desire to remain clean.

Medically assisted detox employs a variety of techniques to reduce the impact of withdrawal symptoms, including medicine and treatments for the symptoms themselves. The purpose of this type of detox is to help make you more comfortable and safer as you go through the first few weeks or days of rehab.

How Long Does Drug Detox Take?

This first part of rehab can take a few days to a few weeks. Generally, after the first one to two weeks, most people are moving beyond the major withdrawal issues and able to incorporate more fully into other rehab and therapy efforts without the constant intervention of doctors and nurses to manage symptoms.

Again, the length of detox depends on the individual situation. Treatment staff work with you to understand your drug abuse and medical history so they can help you create a plan that works for you. Factors that can impact the timeline include:

  • What types of substance or substances you have been using
  • How much of a substance you need to take before experiencing a high
  • Whether you have underlying mental or physical health conditions
  • Your age and gender
  • Your overall health and medical history
  • How often you were using drugs or alcohol before seeking treatment

Detox Time Lines for Some Specific Substances

How long you engage in medically assisted detox depends heavily on the timeline associated with challenging or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Here’s a look at some average withdrawal symptoms timelines for various substances. Remember that these timelines can be different for each individual.

  • Alcohol withdrawals typically begin within 24 hours and peak around 72 hours, tapering off by the end of the first week.
  • Withdrawals from sleeping pills peak after a few days or even a week. Certain symptoms, such as insomnia, can get better and then peak again after a week and require professional treatment.
  • Heroin and opioid withdrawals can begin within hours and peak within the first week. While the most severe symptoms begin to taper off by the end of the second week, individuals who have used large quantities of the drug or have been addicted for a long time may experience symptoms on and off for months. This is one reason a continued treatment plan and support from professionals is essential for success in long-term recovery.
  • Withdrawals related to benzodiazepines begin within a day and peak in about three days. By around two weeks, the most severe withdrawal symptoms have typically tapered off or begun to.
  • Stimulant drugs such as meth or cocaine typically have withdrawal symptoms related to a crash and then cravings. The physical symptoms often taper off within the first week or two, while cravings can continue for months.

How Long Does Inpatient Drug Rehab Take?

The timeline on inpatient rehab is typically longer than the time it takes to simply detox from a substance. This is because detoxing allows your body to rid itself of the drug, but it doesn’t address any of the psychological issues that may be related to an addiction. 

During and after detox, those in inpatient rehab programs typically work with professionals via individual and group therapy sessions, recreational therapy and other treatments to identify and address the root causes for drug abuse. They also work on developing new coping mechanisms and learning more about the addiction cycle and how to approach it through holistic treatment. These steps let you set a strong foundation that can make long-term sobriety more likely.

How long all of this takes depends on each person. Inpatient treatment programs typically range from 28 days to as long as a year.

Why Recovery Is a Lifelong Process

Even after inpatient treatment, most people go on to participate in various step-down treatments. These can range from partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient programs to weekly or monthly individual therapy sessions. Long-term participation in 12-step programs like AA or NA is also popular.

It’s important to remember that recovery from addiction is a lifelong process. You won’t step out of a detox or rehab program cured because addiction isn’t something that can be cured. Instead, the purpose of these programs is to equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to manage the chronic condition of addiction with help from others, including friends, family and professionals.

No Matter How Long, Recovery Starts Now

Detox, rehab and recovery are all very personal journeys. And journeys take different amounts of time for each person. But the truth for everyone is that the opportunity to take the first step is right now. Contact us today to find out more about options for doing so.