Symptoms During Detox: What To Expect

The ongoing use of alcohol and drugs for extended periods of time can lead to the development of physical dependence on that particular substance. Some users realize that they have a problem and try to find a cure for their addiction. The first step on the road to recovery is cleaning your system of the substance a person has a dependence on through detox programs. However, because of physical dependence, people suffering from substance use disorder disorders usually experience withdrawal symptoms as the body reacts harshly to the absence of the substance from the system.

Substance withdrawal symptoms

The symptoms of detox will vary depending on the substance being abused as every drug is different from each other. Some substances will have more pronounced physical symptoms than psychological withdrawal symptoms while it will be the vice versa for others. The symptoms also vary from individual to individual.

Physical withdrawal symptoms usually include;

  • Detox headache and dizziness
  • Difficulties in breathing
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle pain and tension
  • Tingling skin
  • Sweating
  • Tremors and shaking

Some of the most common psychological withdrawal symptoms are;

  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigues
  • Poor appetite
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Poor memory and concentration

Patients with severe addictions may experience life-threatening withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, heart attacks, hallucinations, strokes, and delirium tremens. How long is detox? The duration of the detox and how long the withdrawal symptoms last will be determined by a number of factors such as;

  • Period of time the patient has been abusing the substance
  • The type of substance the patient is detoxing
  • Method of abusing the substance, for example, injections or oral dosage
  • The amount of dosage taken
  • Medical history
  • Mental health history

Substance detox timeline

Substance detox programs vary in time. Some withdrawal symptoms can disappear within a few weeks while others can go on for even several months. Depending on how a substance interacts with a patient’s system, the timeline for detox will vary from substance to substance. The drug’s half-life also influences the timeline to a given degree. Generally, the detox timeline for a few substances is as follows;

  • Prescription opioids- Withdrawal symptoms can kick in within 12 hours and last up to ten days. Psychological symptoms can persist for several months. Stronger opioids such as Methadone can last up to four weeks after kicking in within 24 hours of the last dose.
  • Alcohol- The symptoms may appear within 8 hours and persist for up to 72 hours. Sometimes, the symptoms extend for a few weeks.
  • Cocaine- Withdrawal can start within hours and last up to 10 weeks before disappearing.
  • Heroin- Withdrawal symptoms can kick in within 12 hours and last up to a week.

Get substance detox help

It is important to know what happens during detox so that you can prepare adequately for it. There is no shame in seeking help to treat your substance use disorder disorder. There is also no easy way to clean up and start your journey to sobriety. The easiest way to detox is by enrolling in an addiction treatment program so that you can receive quality professional care.


  • – National Cancer Institute- – National Center for Biotechnology Information
  • – National Center for Biotechnology Information
  • – National Center for Biotechnology Information

Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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