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How Long Does Detox Take?

How Long Does Detox Take?

Substance addiction has caused the premature death of many adolescents and adults since the millennium. According to the Pan American Health Organization, drug use disorder was responsible for over 85,000 American deaths in 2019, accounting for about 47% of global deaths. One of the leading causes of this high mortality rate amongst drug abusers is inaccessibility to treatment.

When you decide to get clean, the therapist or doctor will attempt to remove the substance from your body to minimize the psychological and physical effects. It is called detoxification. The Health and Human Services Department in the United States reveals that 7 out of 10 adults with substance misuse issues in 2021 were in recovery. It’s a process every individual struggling with substance addiction must undergo. However, the length of treatment is often debated. Individuals with drug and alcohol addiction think detox takes a lifetime. How long does detox take? 

What is Detoxification?

Detoxification is a medical process that eliminates drugs and alcohol from the blood and manages the symptoms that may emerge from the withdrawal. Alcohol and drugs are foreign objects that alter the body’s normal functioning. The damage is usually severe when one abuses these toxic substances for a long time. During detox, the person develops withdrawal symptoms, typical responses to the absence of the substance in the body.

Detox is the first step toward recovery, but intense and deadly. Adequate support from the medical staff can water down the effects. It will help you manage withdrawal symptoms effectively and ensure you make it through addiction recovery. A common misconception is that detox is a standalone treatment. Opting for only detox will increase the chance of relapse. It might be extremely cost-effective compared to full treatment, but you are at a higher risk of slipping back into addiction. A full continuum of care is often recommended to ensure complete recovery.

The full rehabilitation program isn’t recommended for all individuals with addiction problems. Short detox may be all they need depending on the severity of the abuse. Contact a healthcare specialist to help you decide on the best treatment program. 

How Long Does Detox Take?

Detox lasts between three days to two weeks. The duration depends on several factors, such as type and quantity of substance ingested, method of ingestion, present health condition, etc. These factors will influence the type and length of withdrawal symptoms the individual may have, which eventually determines the duration of detox.

Usually, smoked or injected drugs will exit the body faster than snorted or swallowed drugs. Swallowed drugs take the longest to exit the body because they have been fully absorbed by the body. Most times, it is the withdrawal symptoms that prolong the detox process. For example, heroin detox takes about three days, but when you consider that the doctors have to combat the withdrawal symptoms, this pushes it up to a week.

Below is the detox timeline for various drugs and alcohol;


Alcohol withdrawal symptoms appear within 10 hours after the last drink. The symptoms peak between two to three days. Seizures and tremors may emerge two to three days after cessation. The entire process takes about a week.


Oxycodone and heroin remain in the body for up to three days. Withdrawal typically begins 6 – 12 hours following cessation and peaks within seven days. Severe symptoms will subside by the second week, but individuals with a history of large consumptions may continue to have withdrawal symptoms for months. Medications like methadone are used to aid opioid detox.


Barbiturates stay the longest in the body. They are active for about three weeks. Withdrawal symptoms develop within the first two days following cessation and peak around day 5. Rebound may occur after seven days.


Sedatives and hypnotics are active in the body for about seven days. Withdrawal symptoms start 24 hours after cessation and peak after three days. Severe symptoms subside after two weeks but may continue depending on the level of benzodiazepines addiction. 


Cocaine and meth users develop depression in the first three days of detox. The individual may crash and develop cravings, which fade after the first week of detox. Rebound could occur, followed by mood swings and body aches in the first month. 


Marijuana detox is the easiest. Detox is completed after 10 – 20 days, following a gradual decline in symptoms.

Withdrawal Symptoms Experienced During Detox

Withdrawal symptoms differ from person to person. They could be mild or severe, depending on;

  • The type and amount of substance abuse
  • If there are multiple drugs consumed simultaneously
  • How long the individual has been consuming
  • Method of ingestion
  • If the individual has any preexisting health condition

Withdrawal symptoms could be physical or psychological. Physical withdrawal symptoms include;

  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Heart problems
  • Tremors

Psychological symptoms include;

  • Delirium
  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion

DetoxLA Offers Medical Detoxification for Recovery

Detox programs help individuals with addiction navigate through the first phase of recovery. If you or someone you know has addiction problems and needs help, DetoxLA is the right treatment center. Located in Los Angeles, DetoxLA provides comprehensive detox services for all substances. Contact us today to learn more about our Los Angeles drug and alcohol detox center.