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Timeline of Drug Withdrawal: What to Expect at Each Stage

drug withdrawal timeline

Embarking on the journey of entering a detox program is often the most challenging step for individuals grappling with addiction. Whether you’re in the early stages of addiction, hearing about the discomfort of withdrawal, or you’ve struggled for years with repeated relapses, taking that initial leap can be intimidating. The fear of the unknown can be a significant barrier to seeking help, despite the potential benefits.

While withdrawal symptoms may be uncomfortable, it’s crucial to recognize that they typically last only a few days before showing signs of improvement. Understanding the distinct timelines of drug withdrawal and knowing what to anticipate during each stage of detox can help alleviate some of the anxiety associated with the process.

Discover more about drug withdrawal timelines and gain insights into what you can expect at each phase of detox. Explore how Agape Detox Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida, is committed to providing support for a safe and effective detoxification, helping you prepare for the subsequent steps in your journey toward recovery.

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What is Withdrawal?

Withdrawal, or detox, is when you stop using or cut back on using drugs or alcohol. Many people develop a physical or psychological dependence or both when they misuse these substances. Withdrawal symptoms can be mild to severe depending on these factors:

  • The substance
  • How long a person has been using
  • The amount being used
  • A person’s physical health and age
  • The method of withdrawal
stages of drug withdrawal

A physical dependence on drugs or alcohol happens when the body becomes reliant on the substance to feel normal. If you try to stop or lower the amount you use, withdrawal symptoms will begin to appear.

A psychological dependence is when you believe the substance is necessary to function. You think you need it to be social at a party or to unwind after a long day at work. Some people believe they need it just to get through the day.

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

A person who struggles with alcohol use disorder(AUD) has most likely experienced withdrawal symptoms. Many symptoms begin within a few hours of their last drink.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, almost half of those with AUD will have withdrawal symptoms when they stop. Alcohol withdrawal accounts for about 260,000 emergency room visits and 850 deaths every year.

The first alcohol withdrawal symptoms typically begin about 6 hours after the last drink. While symptoms are usually mild at this time, long-term heavy drinkers may have seizures 6 hours after the last drink. It’s important to seek medical assistance when detoxing from alcohol, because the withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Our alcohol detox center in Port St. Lucie can help you quit drinking comfortably.

Six hours after ceasing to drink alcohol, one may experience any of these alcohol withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Tremors in hands and legs
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Sleeplessness
  • Night sweats

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms accumulate over time. 12 to 24 hours after quitting alcohol a person may also experience these symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Some withdrawal symptoms can intensify, including an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Some minor withdrawal symptoms like headaches, shaking, and upset stomach may still be happening 24 to 48 hours after quitting alcohol.

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Many people struggling with chronic alcohol use disorder begin experiencing delirium tremens or DTs 48 to 72 hours after they quit drinking. This can cause:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Raised body temperature
  • Paranoia
  • Illusions
  • Fever

After 72 hours, DT symptoms often peak and will be at their worst. Within 3 to 5 days after last use, withdrawal symptoms begin subsiding. However, mood disturbances and cravings sometimes persist.

Barbiturate Drug Withdrawal Timeline

Barbiturates are a group of drugs known as sedative-hypnotics. Some barbiturates have a short speed of action, meaning they only last a few minutes. Others are longer lasting and can stay in the body for up to 2 days. Withdrawal symptoms from barbiturates start within a day or less.

Withdrawal symptoms often include:

  • Changes in heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Four to seven days after someone stops using barbituates they may experience these withdrawal symptoms:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Mood Changes
  • Psychosis

Withdrawal symptoms that continue through the second or third week or longer are known as Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS). These withdrawal symptoms can last up to a year or longer:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Distorted thinking
  • Loss of coordination during stressful times

Drug Withdrawal Timeline for Benzodiazepine

timeline for drug withdrawal

Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers and include Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax, and Valium. Some benzos are long-acting, and others have a short half-life. They are addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms when stopped.

Withdrawal from short-acting benzos begins 1-4 days after last use. Withdrawal usually peaks after a week and slowly improves over several weeks. Long-acting benzos withdrawal symptoms can be more gradual and have a longer duration.

Early withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Insomnia
  • Weight loss
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • De[ression
  • Agitation
  • Feeling tense and stressed

Acute benzo withdrawal symptoms for those extremely dependent on the drug include:

  • Seizures
  • Sensitivity to light, noise, and touch
  • Numbness in arms and legs
  • Feeling that things are not real
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hallucinations
  • Disturbed thoughts

Acute withdrawal symptoms can last a few days or a week. Withdrawal from benzos can lead to death in severe cases of addiction. This increases if the person also struggles with alcohol use disorder. Never stop benzodiazepines cold turkey without professional benzo detox programs.

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Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

When a person stops using cocaine, a “crash” can begin quickly after. During this phase of withdrawal, they will experience strong and intense cravings, but cocaine detox in Florida can help ease these symptoms.

The drug withdrawal timeline for cocaine can last from a week to ten days. The symptoms are more psychological than physical and typically include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleepiness
  • Tiredness
  • Unable to feel pleasure in things
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia

Ten days after stopping cocaine use, a person may experience these withdrawal symptoms:

  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Appetite changes
  • Feelings of uneasiness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Feeling lazy and tired

Most people have completed the withdrawal phase by six months. However, an extinction phase can occur for another six months. During this phase, cravings are decreased unless they are triggered. Ideally, after completing a drug or alcohol detox program, individuals will enter an inpatient addiction treatment program. In a residential or even outpatient program, someone in recovery can learn coping skills and plan for relapse prevention.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

A person struggling with a heroin addiction will experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms once they stop using the drug.

In the first six to twelve hours after stopping heroin use, one may experience these heroin withdrawal symptoms:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Nervousness
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Feeling anxious
  • Muscular aches
  • Shaking
  • Panic attacks

The following heroin withdrawal symptoms typically worsen over the next few days, peaking on day three after the last use.

  • Stomach cramps
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Nausea and vomiting

During this acute withdrawal phase, symptoms will start to ease. While the muscle aches and nausea lessen, most people still feel tired and worn out.

During the next few months, people may still feel symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, irritability, and fatigue. Heroin withdrawal can be very dangerous and even fatal if not done under medical supervision. If you’re seeking help, call our heroin detox treatment center in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Drug Withdrawal Timeline for Inhalants

It is crucial to seek medical supervision when detoxing from inhalants because they can cause life-threatening physical and psychological symptoms.

Within 24 to 48 hours after last use, the following symptoms may appear:

  • Hand tremors
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures in severe cases
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Hallucinations in severe cases

Over the next few days, physical withdrawal symptoms will ease. However, psychological symptoms can continue, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness

By day 8, all the above symptoms will fade and completely disappear over the next 4-8 weeks.

Some people who go through inhalant withdrawal may experience lasting psychological symptoms for months afterward. This period can last from 18 to 24 months.

Marijuana Withdrawal Timeline

Some people can become physically addicted to marijuana and experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. Symptoms may vary from one person to the next and can include:

  • Irritability
  • Sleeplessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Appetite loss
  • Aches
  • Sweating
  • Fever]nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Tremors

Trouble sleeping can last for up to 4 weeks after last use.

Opioid Withdrawal Timeline

The severity of opioid withdrawal depends on how long the drug has been abused, the dosage, and how suddenly the drug was stopped.

Early withdrawal from opioids may include the following symptoms.

  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Runny nose
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Extreme yawning
  • Anxiety
  • Increase in heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Rise in blood pressure

During the last phase of opioid withdrawal may cause:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Cravings
  • Stomach pain
  • Depression

Some people may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms that last longer than one week and include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Stimulant Drug Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawal from stimulants, such as cocaine, meth, and nicotine, can begin a few hours after the last dose to several days after. Meth detox in Port St. Lucie offers support while quitting stimulant use.

One to three days after quitting stimulant use these withdrawal symptoms may appear:

  • Fatigue
  • Body aches
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of unhappiness
  • Cravings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks

Four to ten days stimulant withdrawal symptoms may worsen:

  • More intense cravings
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Severe depression

In the stimulant withdrawal timeline, most symptoms will lessen 11 to 17 days after stopping use, but psychological symptoms will linger. This includes depression, restlessness, and mood swings.

Agape Detox Center Can Help You Get Through the Drug Withdrawal

drug withdrawal timeline

Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol should be done under medical supervision due to the possible severe and life-threatening symptoms. Many substances have psychological withdrawal symptoms that can benefit from medical interventions and counseling.

At Agape Detox Center, we understand the mental and physical challenges of the drug withdrawal timeline. Going through withdrawal alone often leads to relapse due to cravings and physical symptoms. We can help ease those symptoms by offering the following in our drug and alcohol detox program in Florida.

  • Medication- Depending on various factors, FDA-approved medications may be prescribed to ease specific withdrawal symptoms. For example, buprenorphine may be used to manage opioid withdrawal and benzodiazepines for alcohol withdrawal.
  • Medical supervision- Severe cases of withdrawal may require close supervision in a medical detox program to manage dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
  • Psychotherapy- A key component of detox and recovery is therapy. Individual, group, holistic, and behavioral therapies help manage and heal from the emotional challenges of withdrawal.
  • Inpatient or outpatient programs- Completing a detox program does not qualify as treatment. Transitioning from detox into an inpatient or outpatient program can help you along your recovery journey and build healthy coping skills.

Every person is unique, and so is their addiction journey. We create personalized treatment plans to address all their personal and addiction needs.

FAQs

The severity of withdrawal symptoms can be influenced by the type of drug, duration of use, dosage, individual physiology, and overall health.

The severity of withdrawal symptoms can be influenced by the type of drug, duration of use, dosage, individual physiology, and overall health.

Emotional challenges during withdrawal can be managed through support groups, therapy, mindfulness techniques, and engaging in activities that promote relaxation and well-being.

This depends on the severity of withdrawal symptoms. While some can manage at home with support, others, especially with severe symptoms, may require medical supervision in a detox facility.

Yes, relapse is possible during or after withdrawal. It emphasizes the importance of ongoing support, counseling, and addressing the underlying causes of substance use.

Long-term effects can include improved physical and mental health, but ongoing support may be needed to maintain recovery and prevent relapse.

Gradual tapering of the drug, staying hydrated, maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and seeking medical guidance can help prevent or minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Strategies include distraction techniques, engaging in hobbies, mindfulness, and contacting a support network. Medications may also help in reducing cravings.

Offering emotional support, encouraging treatment, educating themselves about addiction, avoiding judgment, and being patient are crucial in supporting someone going through drug withdrawal. Professional guidance and involvement in  support groups can also be beneficial.

Start Your Recovery Journey Today With Agape Detox Center

Now that you know what to expect in each withdrawal phase, it’s time to make the call to start your new life. We are waiting to help you become your true self, free from drugs and alcohol. Contact us today to learn more.

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