The length of drug withdrawals is different for every individual based on the type of substance, physical condition of the user, age, amount of usage, and length of addiction. For users, family, and friends, it is essential to realize that the fear of withdrawals and the unknowns of detox are a genuine threat to recovery.

Physically and psychologically, the body strives to restore itself to the pre-addiction state, causing withdrawal symptoms that are uncomfortable and challenging to manage. Treatment professionals are familiar with the dangers of drug withdrawal and utilize new therapies to ease the user’s discomfort through the initial step of recovery. 

Drug Withdrawals Overview

Withdrawal symptoms occur from the physiological response to a sudden end to substance use or a lesser dosage of a substance the body is dependent on to function. Therefore, it is essential to understand that drug dependency dictates physical, mental, and emotional processes stemming from a change in brain chemistry, generally dopamine production.

Addiction to a substance involves these main elements: compulsion, craving, consequences, and control, and without the use of the substance, the cycle is adversely interrupted.

As a result, without medical management, the heroin and opioid detoxification process presents specific challenges that, without medical management, can be uncomfortable and be a factor in relapse.

Heroin and Opioid Withdrawal

Heroin and opioids are a class of drugs that attach to and activate the opioid receptors within the body. These drugs regulate dopamine production in the brain, which is the dominating factor that produces the pleasurable effect fueling the compulsion.

Highly addictive, heroin and other opioids develop dependence quickly, causing intense cravings for the drug as tolerance builds for the substance. When usage abruptly ends, consequences occur in the form of drug withdrawals and, therefore, control the user to continue using the substance to avoid discomfort. 

According to an article in the National Library of Medicine, short-acting opioids—such as heroin—have an onset of symptoms of 8 to 24 hours after last use, with a duration of 4 to 10 days. In addition, long-acting opioids, such as methadone, have an onset of withdrawal symptoms 12 to 48 hours after the last use, with a duration of 10 to 20 days.

Withdrawal management involves keeping the patient as comfortable as possible to avoid the possibility of relapse from intense cravings. Finally, the withdrawal symptoms from heroin and opioids include any of the following:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Hot and cold flashes, goosebumps
  • Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Muscle cramps and body aches
  • Runny nose, frequent yawning, excessive sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Tremors
  • Low blood pressure

Cocaine and Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that influences the brain’s reward center because it does not allow the levels of dopamine in the brain’s chemical pathways to diminish. In turn, the cravings reinforce continual stimulant use and psychological dependence on the drug.

When the user abruptly stops using cocaine, as with other stimulants, drug withdrawals include severe mood changes occurring within 12 hours of the last dosage. Finally, within 24 hours of the previous dosage, other acute withdrawal symptoms ensue and can continue for 3 to 5 days. 

Withdrawal symptoms from stimulant withdrawal include any of the following:

  • Depressed mood and anxiety
  • Tiredness or lethargy
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Extreme mood changes involving Irritability, agitation, and aggression
  • Paranoia and intense drug cravings
  • Increased appetite
  • Problems with concentration
  • Slowed thoughts and movements

What Is Alcohol Withdrawal?

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, which, during withdrawal from the substance, poses potentially dangerous and life-threatening symptoms. Within hours of the last drink of alcohol, the body reacts, and acute withdrawal symptoms can continue for several days.

Treatment professionals understand the extreme levels of discomfort and the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms that may occur. Medical management and the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) during alcohol detox is the safest and most effective choice. 

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can include uncomfortable and complex situations for professionals to manage. The following acute symptoms are familiar:

  • Racing pulse and elevations in blood pressure
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Sweating, nausea, and vomiting
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium Tremens

In the case of polysubstance use, more than a single substance, complications with drug withdrawals can be severe. Consequently, other contributing factors that may pose complex issues during detox can include medical problems, previous alcohol withdrawal experience, and the intensity of the addiction level.

Alcohol withdrawal can turn dangerous a few days into withdrawal when delirium tremens can develop. Indeed, delirium tremens can prove deadly without medical management. 

Drug Withdrawal Timeframes

Timeframes surrounding drug withdrawal symptoms can include 2 types: acute and prolonged or protracted. Acute withdrawal symptoms include the initial symptoms occurring in response to the end of drug or alcohol use or tapering of usage. Acute symptoms generally extend from a few hours up to a week to 10 days. Medical management reduces the intensity of these physical and psychological challenges. 

Prolonged or protracted withdrawal symptoms can occur weeks or months out of detox. Without relapse prevention knowledge, prolonged withdrawal symptoms can begin and cause a lapse in sobriety. Appearing out of nowhere, the same symptoms of acute withdrawal appear, causing an unsettling frame of mind. When these symptoms associated with drug withdrawals occur, reaching out to professionals can help maintain sobriety, as well as reviewing a relapse prevention plan made during rehab. 

Get Effective Drug Withdrawal Treatment 

The fear of the unknown can be debilitating and may result in challenges when deciding to detox from a substance. Detox West Tennessee can explain how they incorporate medical management in their detox programs to eliminate fear and gain a complete understanding of the process. Ending a substance use disorder can be a life-changing, favorable decision.

Contact their admissions office today to top off the motivation you need to complete the process.