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

a person holds their head and a glass of water while navigating the alcohol and drug withdrawal timeline

Drug and alcohol withdrawal can be difficult. Every substance leaves the body at a different rate, and if you’re planning to stop using drugs or alcohol, you need to know what’s in store for you. Quitting the substance you struggle with is a great first step. Know the normal alcohol and drug withdrawal timeline so you can understand how your body will react.

Northpoint Washington has inpatient drug and alcohol rehab programs that can help you manage withdrawal symptoms. Call 888.450.2153 to get help now.

The Definition of 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 that they can quit anytime. Once they stop using substances, what happens to them physically and mentally comes as quite a shock.

Withdrawal 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.

How Long Do Drugs Stay in Your System?

Each substance has a different half-life, which is the time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from your body. Generally speaking, alcohol and drugs leave your system in a few days. However, some substances can stay in your system for weeks or even months. Factors such as age, weight, metabolism, and frequency of use can also affect how long a substance stays in your system.

Opiate Withdrawal


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.

Opiate Drug Withdrawal Timeline

You may be most interested in knowing how long opiate withdrawal symptoms last. However, it’s probably most helpful to know how it starts and how it progresses. The opiate withdrawal timeline is normally around a week and a half long.

  • Onset of symptoms – If you’re taking short-acting opiates (Percocet, Oxycodone, Codeine), withdrawal should begin quickly. You may feel it within 6-12 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 three is often the worst day of opiate withdrawal.
  • Days 4-6 – You should have hit the peak by day three. On day four, 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.

There are really three stages of opiate withdrawal that you will experience. The early stage 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 may make it 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 relapse at this point. It’s not unusual for people to experience symptoms for up to a year after quitting opiate drugs during the long-term stage. You should be prepared for this, even though you should feel better most of the time.

Trying 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 sOpiate Withdrawal

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 can help you feel better much faster.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal


Benzodiazepines like Xanax, Ativan, and Valium are commonly prescribed as short-term medications. Stopping any of these drugs abruptly will result in serious withdrawal. This is sometimes referred to as benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Some of the symptoms 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

Benzos are powerful drugs, and it’s important to know how long these symptoms will last.

Benzo Withdrawal Timeline

Typically, people tend to discount how powerful benzos are. Their 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 – Many benzos are short-acting drugs. This means that they have short half-lives, leaving the body quickly. Symptoms will probably begin within 12 hours. However, some people experience them by the sixth hour after the last dose.
  • Early withdrawal – This is a period that will last between one and four days, depending on the person. It may also depend on what the individual’s dosage was.
  • Acute 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.

It’s difficult to say how long it would take to go through benzodiazepine withdrawal. Some people feel better within a few weeks, while others experience it for years. Also, even if you’ve quit benzos 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.

Delirium tremens (DTs) is a dangerous condition that can occur during benzo withdrawal. This happens when the brain is so dependent on the drug it has a tough time operating without it. In fact, DTs can be life-threatening for some people.

Quitting 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. Benzo detox is tailored according to your specific needs and 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.

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

If you become addicted to marijuana, you will go through withdrawal 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

Even though marijuana is not as potent as opiates or benzos, it can still be challenging to navigate the withdrawal period.

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 craving 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 if you primarily smoked the drug. 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.

Taking the withdrawal timeline one day at a time is a good way to stay positive. After two weeks, most of the worst symptoms should be gone.

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?

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.

How Long Does Alcohol Stay in Your System?

Each person will have a different experience with alcohol addiction and the detox process. Generally, your age, body weight, metabolism rate, overall health condition, and the amount of alcohol consumed will determine how long it stays in your system.

Alcohol Withdrawal


Of all of the substances, alcohol is one of the most dangerous 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:

  • Severe anxiety
  • Problems sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations and/or delusions
  • Seizures
  • Anger and agitation
  • Delirium tremens

As you go through the process of alcohol withdrawal, you’ll experience three different stages. The first 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. The second stage begins around day two 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. The final 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 the risk of delirium tremens is highest. If you experience seizures, hallucinations, or severe agitation, it’s an emergency.

Can You Quit Drinking Cold Turkey?

If you struggle with alcohol addiction, quitting cold turkey is life-threatening. You’re not a casual drinker or someone who engages in binge drinking. Instead, your body and brain rely on alcohol. Quitting suddenly results in dangerous withdrawal symptoms like delirium tremens.

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.

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. Withdrawal symptoms and cravings can be eased by:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Improving your diet
  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Avoiding your friends who drink alcohol
  • Entering medical detox programs
  • Participating in therapy

Quitting drugs and alcohol is an important first step. However, it’s not the only step that should be taken. By choosing to enter into detox programs and therapy, you’re taking care of your physical and mental health.

Call Northpoint Washington for Medical Detox

Northpoint Washington’s drug and alcohol detox programs are designed to make sure you receive the best medical care possible. We have trained professionals on staff who specialize in helping people go through this difficult time.

Navigate the alcohol and drug withdrawal timeline with confidence. Call 888.450.2153 or complete our online form to get help now.