Detox Withdrawal

Anyone who has had to detox from drugs and alcohol will know how difficult it is. In fact, detoxing from these substances can be one of the most painful things you’ll ever have to do.

This is because there are many negative symptoms associated with detoxing from drugs or alcohol. For example, some of these include nausea and vomiting, headaches, increased heart rate, tremors, and even seizures.

There are also mental health symptoms associated with withdrawal. These include things like, anxiety or nervousness, agitation, restlessness, irritability, or inexplicable anger. 

If you’re experiencing these symptoms then here’s what you need to realize: this will eventually come to an end. Withdrawal doesn’t last forever. No matter how badly you’re suffering right now, understand that eventually your pain will come to an end. What you also have to realize is that withdrawal does have benefits.

As the substances leave your body and you return to normal you’ll find yourself thinking clearer, feeling healthier, and overcoming the negative effects of substance abuse says Johnny K – the owner of True Life Recovery detox program in Orange County, CA. 

A lot of people want to know how long this process takes. They want to know what length of time they can expect to experience these withdrawal symptoms.

If you’re one of these people, here’s what you can expect during withdrawal, and how long these symptoms should persist. The major symptoms of withdrawal usually pass within 2-3 days. Here’s what you need to know. 

12-24 Hours

This time should cover your first day in rehab. In this situation most people are still abusing drugs or alcohol. That means you’ll probably start the day off with a hangover or drug withdrawal. As time goes on this becomes more acute.

You may experience symptoms such as anxiety, confusion, tremors, and also nausea and vomiting. Along with this there are other symptoms such as increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, sweating, and shivering. 

Depending on the severity of these you may be given medication. This can include things like methadone in the case of heroin addicts, or B-Vitamins and a saline drip for alcoholics. There should also be a focus on hydration and nutrition during this period. 

24-48 Hours

As bad as the above symptoms may sound, what comes next is usually worse. Once the drugs have left your system you may experience chronic insomnia, chills, headaches and shakiness.

You may also have headaches or feel random pains throughout your body. This point is also dangerous because many people give up and relapse. Including this are mental symptoms such as anxiety, moodiness, and irritability. You’ll probably feel extremely raw at this point and as if your nerves are completely shattered. 

48-72 Hours

At this point you should start to feel better. That being said, this time period can also be extremely dangerous. For example, alcoholics may experience confusion, seizures, or even hallucinations. You may also feel anxiety, cravings, and the desire to start using substances again. 

One Week 

This is a major milestone for any drug or alcohol addict. If you make it to this point, you should start to feel a real difference. One of the first things you’ll notice is that your sleep improves dramatically, and you have far more energy. Mental health symptoms like moodiness, anxiety, and irritability may also suddenly decrease. Alcoholics may find themselves rapidly losing weight. 

Two Weeks 

Drugs and alcohol affect your brain but after two weeks it should start to recover. One of these effects is that the brain starts to shrink. At two weeks this process starts to reverse and your brain begins to increase in volume.

When this happens you should start to notice increases in your motor skills, memory, cognitive skills, and also your ability to think. While this is true it may take months to recover complex thinking skills. 

One Month 

This is another major milestone. Upon reaching one month of sobriety, your body starts to rapidly heal itself. For example, your liver function should improve and increase in its ability to eliminate toxins from your body.

If you’re an alcoholic you may start to lose weight. What’s more, you should see major improvements in your energy levels, and also the appearance of your skin. 

The downside of this is that you may start to experience mental health problems. Many people begin to feel anxiety or depression when reaching the one month milestone.

This is due to the fact that your brain is still rebalancing itself (this is also why it’s recommended that you enter therapy at this point so that you have assistance in overcoming these problems).

Three Months

By now your bodily functions should have returned to normal. Most people will be completely free from the negative symptoms of withdrawal. While this is great news, there is also a downside.

This downside being that many people become overconfident. Having forgotten about the horrors of addiction they become tempted to abuse drugs or alcohol again. If your recovery is going to be successful you cannot give in to these temptations. 

Six Months 

At the six-month mark, you are basically completely recovered from drug or alcohol detox. Your body has recovered and gone back to normal, and all mental health symptoms should have passed. What’s more, you will more than likely have built the positive habits which can lead to a sober life. 

One Year 

This is the milestone that every addict aspires to. Reaching one year of abstinence essentially means that you’re no longer a drug addict or alcoholic. You have completely recovered and addiction is a thing of the past.

Many people may have lost enormous amounts of weight. Your risk of cancer due to substance abuse will also decline, as well as other health problems caused by addiction. Most importantly, your brain should have completely recovered.

At the one year mark, you should have regained the ability to perform complex tasks, and also the ability to make decisions, solve problems, and analyse situations.

From here it’s simply a case of continuing to stay sober. The next big milestone is five years (at this point your chances of relapse drop to below 10%).