4 Drug and Alcohol Withdrawal Timelines: How Long Does Each Substance Stay in Your System?

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Both drug and alcohol withdrawal can be difficult, and it’s important to understand the timelines. Every substance leaves the body at a different rate. If you’re planning to stop using drugs or alcohol, you need to know what’s in store for you. It’s wonderful that you’re planning to stop using alcohol or drugs. However, knowing what to expect when you quit is very important. Once you know about withdrawal timelines, you’ll be able to plan accordingly for your quit.

The Definition of Drug Withdrawal

Interestingly enough, people are often surprised when they have drug withdrawal symptoms. They often believe that they have their drug use under control, and they can quit anytime. Once they stop using, what happens to them physically and mentally comes as quite a shock. The effects of stopping any type of substance are defined as drug withdrawal. These symptoms occur because the body has gotten used to the presence of drugs or alcohol. When these substances are taken away, withdrawals are the body’s way of reacting. Just as there are different types of drugs, there are different types of symptoms that occur when they’re stopped. Also, what you experience will differ from what someone else experiences. This is the case even if you’re both using the same substance. We’d like to take a moment and go over what you can expect with drug withdrawals for four different drugs.

#1 Withdrawals from Opiate Drugs

People using opiate drugs are often the most concerned about what withdrawal will be like. Opiate withdrawal symptoms are some of the most severe. People typically experience at least some of the following:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Muscle aches in the body
  • A runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Frequent yawning and tearing of the eyes
  • Agitation or anger
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Digestive issues
  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

When you’re in withdrawal from opiates, you don’t experience all of these at the same time. It’s important to understand what the opiate timeline looks like.

What are the Opiate Withdrawal Duration and Timeline?

You may be most interested in knowing how long opiate withdrawals last. However, it’s probably most helpful to know how it starts, and how it progresses. When you’re quitting opiates, the timeline looks like this:

  • The Beginning of Symptoms: If you’re taking short-acting opiates (Percocet, Oxycodone, Codeine), withdrawal should begin quickly. You may feel it within 6 to 12 hours after your last dose. For long-acting opiates (Duragesic, Opana, Methadone), they may begin within 30 hours.
  • Days 1-3: You may only experience a few mild symptoms at first. However, these symptoms will increase in severity by the end of the third day. Day 3 is the worst day of opiate withdrawal, by far.
  • Days 4-6: You should have hit the peak by day 3. On day 4, you should start to feel a bit better. Some symptoms may disappear, while others may linger.
  • Days 7-10: You should be feeling quite a bit better at this point. However, you still may experience cravings on and off.
  • Days 11 and Beyond: It’s not unusual for symptoms to come back without notice. It’s even possible to experience them a month or more after you’ve quit this drug.

Stages of Opiate Withdrawal

There are really three stages of opiate withdrawal that you will experience. They are: The Early Stage: This is when you first begin to feel symptoms. They should be fairly mild, and not bothersome. You also may only have a few of them. The Peak Stage: It may seem as if you have every symptom on the list and even a few that aren’t. This is the most difficult time of the entire process. Many people give in and go back to using at this point. The Long-Term Stage: It’s not unusual for people to experience symptoms for up to a year after quitting opiate drugs. You should be prepared for this, even though you should feel better most of the time.

How to Quit Opiates on Your Own

People often wonder what they can buy over the counter to help with their opiate withdrawals. You may find that the Internet is filled with herbal remedies and at-home solutions. There are many ways to help detox from opiates, and all of them are promising. However, most of them aren’t safe. The only thing that really helps when coming off opiates is to detox in a professional setting. It’s also the safest and most effective way for long-term success.

The Easiest Way to Get Through the Withdrawal Timeline

Opiate detox offers you the best option to get through this painful and difficult period. These symptoms are so difficult to manage on your own. In a professional, medical setting, they can be managed fairly easily. This makes you more comfortable, and helps you feel better much faster.

#2 Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms

Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed medications. Examples may include Xanax, Ativan and Valium. Stopping any of these drugs abruptly will result in serious withdrawal. This is sometimes referred to as benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Some of the symptoms people commonly experience with this type of withdrawal include:

  • Trouble with sleep
  • Feeling very irritable and agitated
  • Increased anxiety levels
  • Possibility of panic attacks
  • Tremors in the hands
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling confused
  • Problems with memory
  • Weight loss
  • Heart palpitations

As you can see, many of these symptoms are quite disturbing. Benzos are powerful drugs, and it’s important to know how long these symptoms will last. Let’s take a closer look at Xanax as an example.

What is the Xanax Withdrawal Timeline?

Typically, people tend to discount what a powerful drug Xanax is. Its withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe, and they can last a very long time. You can expect the timeline to look similar to this:

  • The onset of Symptoms: Xanax is a short-acting drug. This means that it has a short half-life, leaving the body quickly. Symptoms will probably begin within 12 hours. However, some people experience them by the 6th hour after the last dose.
  • Early Withdrawal: This is a period that will last between 1 and 4 days, depending on the person. It may also depend on what the individual’s dosage was.
  • Acute Xanax Withdrawal: This stage may last from a few days to a whole month. You’re likely to experience all of the symptoms on the list during this time. You may experience a peak by the end of the second week.
  • Protracted Stage: You may continue to have cravings and other symptoms for quite some time. There are some people who even experience psychosis. You could feel this way for weeks, months, or even years.

How Long Will it Take to Withdraw from Xanax?

It’s difficult to say how long it would take to go through this type of benzodiazepine withdrawal. Some people feel better within a few weeks, while others experience it for years. Also, even if you’ve quit Xanax in the past without a problem, this time might not be so easy.

Are There Ways to Detox from This Drug at Home?

Benzodiazepine detox should never be attempted at home. Most people really don’t understand how scary this type of withdrawal can be. You’re likely to find a lot of home remedies online. However, they can be dangerous.

Getting Off Xanax Without Withdrawals

There may be a way to stop using this drug without going through withdrawals. At the very least, you may be able to decrease their severity and duration. A benzodiazepine detox can assist you with this. This type of drug detox is tailored according to your specific needs. It may involve a medical taper of the drug first. After that, you may receive medications to help with your symptoms. It’s also possible that a more holistic method of detox might be implemented. If you’re like most people, your goal may be to go through this time as easily as possible. Detoxing professionally can help you accomplish that.

#3 Alcohol Symptoms of Withdrawal

Of all of the drugs, alcohol is the most dangerous one to withdraw from. This type of detox should never be done on your own. However people fail to realize the types of risks involved with quitting alcohol by themselves. Typical alcohol symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Becoming very anxious
  • Having problems sleeping
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Having stomach pain
  • High blood pressure
  • An increase in body temperature
  • A fast heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations and/or delusions
  • The risk of seizures
  • Anger and agitation
  • Delirium tremens

How Long Will Alcohol Withdrawal Last When You Quit Cold Turkey?

For most people, alcohol withdrawals will last around a week. However, this is an average, and there are some for whom it lasts quite a bit longer. It might seem as though you can make it through a week of symptoms on your own. However, keep in mind that if you develop alcohol withdrawal syndrome, your symptoms could be fatal.

What Can You Expect as You Detox?

As you go through the process of alcohol withdrawal, you’ll experience three different stages. These stages are: Stage One: This stage should begin about 8 hours after you have had your last drink. It is during this stage that anxiety begins, along with stomach pain. You may have trouble sleeping as well. This stage will last about 24 hours. Stage Two: This stage begins on day 2, and should last for about two days. Your blood pressure will increase, along with your body temperature. You may get a fairly high fever during this time. The cravings for alcohol will be very strong. Stage Three: This stage is the most dangerous. It begins 72 hours after you have had your last drink, for most people. However, there are some for whom it may take longer. It’s possible to reach this stage after 10 to 14 days. This is when delirium tremens typically sets in. If you experience seizures, hallucinations or severe agitation, it’s an emergency. You need to get immediate medical treatment.

What Helps to Ease Withdrawal Symptoms?

There are a number of things that people may try to attempt to ease their symptoms. The problem is that going through this trying time alone can still be dangerous. This is the case no matter how prepared you think you may be. You can attempt to go through it on your own by:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Improving your diet
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Avoiding your friends who drink alcohol
  • Obtaining medication from your doctor, or over the counter

Still, you put yourself at great risk when you attempt alcohol recovery on your own. Serious complications could arise as a result, and these can be fatal.

The Importance of Alcohol Detox

Fortunately, no one has to go through alcohol detox on their own. You can opt to go through a professional program for this purpose. Choosing an excellent alcohol detox program offers you so many benefits. The treatment you receive can help you avoid any dangerous or life-threatening complications. You’ll be monitored around the clock. That means in the event of an emergency, medical staff will be able to act quickly on your behalf. The methods used during alcohol detox will be tailored to your specific needs. You may be given medications to help improve your withdrawal symptoms. Some of them may be avoided altogether. Quitting alcohol isn’t something you need to go through on your own. There are ways to get the help you need to do it the right away, and stay safe.

#4 Marijuana Withdrawal

Marijuana is a very controversial drug. In many areas of the United States, it’s legal for recreational use. In even more places, it’s legal for medical use. People tend to think of marijuana as a drug that doesn’t lead to addiction or dependence. They couldn’t be more wrong. Like any other drug, treatment is recommended in order to stop using it. If you don’t, your body and mind are likely to react negatively.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Smoking Pot

If you become addicted to marijuana, you will go through withdrawals when you stop using it. You may encounter symptoms of withdrawal such as:

  • Becoming irritated very easily
  • Feelings of anxiety or worry
  • Feeling restless
  • Becoming very depressed
  • Insomnia, or even nightmares
  • Losing weight, along with a loss of appetite
  • Fever or chills
  • Painful headaches
  • Pain in your stomach

Is There a Detox Timeline for Pot?

Yes, and you should expect withdrawal symptoms to set in fairly quickly. It doesn’t take long for pot to leave your body. Once it does, the detox period will begin, and it will happen in stages.

  • Day 1: You will begin having trouble with your sleep. You may have a hard time focusing or concentrating, and anxiety may set it. You may become easily angered, even with the people you love.
  • Days 2-3: This is when the headaches will begin. You may have a really strong cravings for marijuana. You will probably have an upset stomach. You are at the greatest risk of relapse during these two days. However, at the end of the third day, the severity of your symptoms should peak.
  • Days 4-14: You should notice many of your symptoms start to fade away. Although, some may linger. You may become depressed during this time period. You may also continue to have cravings, although they should be less severe.
  • Day 15 and Beyond: At this point, you may start coughing. This is the result of your lungs cleaning themselves out. You may also continue to be depressed and anxious from time to time. The good news is that your sleep cycle should start to regulate.

Can You Quit Smoking Cold Turkey?

You can quit smoking marijuana cold turkey, and many people do. However, it will not be a comfortable experience. Even though it’s considered safer, this is a hard addiction to overcome on your own. It’s not necessarily dangerous to quit marijuana abruptly, but your chance of being successful is pretty low.

Will You Need Professional Marijuana Detox?

This is a great question. Marijuana detox is available for you if you need it. It’s best to talk your situation over with a professional who can guide you. Many drug rehabs offer free phone assessments to individuals with these types of questions. Talking with someone will allow you to explain your drug use and get the right recommendations.

The Bottom Line Regarding Withdrawal, Detox and Treatment

No matter which type of drug you’re using, quitting your use of it is going to be difficult. You’ve probably underestimated the strength and severity of your addiction. This is extremely common for someone who is an addict. This isn’t something you need to do on your own. You may have questions about whether or not you can afford to get treatment. You may wonder if your insurance will help you pay for detox and rehab. All of those questions can be answered for you. Addiction recovery is hard. Don’t go it alone.