You may have wondered, how long do withdrawal symptoms last? Well, it’s different for each person and it depends on a lot of important factors.
In this article, we’ll dive into specific details about what to expect if you or a loved one is going through addiction recovery.
First things first, withdrawing from a substance or behavior should be done with medical and mental health professionals. Trying to withdraw all by yourself makes it much harder than it has to be.
Withdrawal happens when you decide to cut back or stop taking a drug that you have been using consistently enough to form a habit or addiction.
You do not have to be using mind-altering drugs to feel withdrawal effects. Sugar, caffeine, and nicotine are all drugs that can cause negative withdrawal symptoms. Anything that can cause your mind or body to become physically dependent will create withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using them. Even sex, pornography, and gambling can produce some withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal, also known as detoxification, is different for each person and the severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on many factors.
Factors Affecting Withdrawal Symptoms
Not everyone experiences withdrawal the same because no two people are the same. Older individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms that a younger person would not. The length of time someone has spent using a drug can also affect the degree and type of withdrawal symptoms experienced.
For example, if you have been using heroin for many years, your symptoms may be more severe than someone who has been using it for a few weeks.
The drug you choose is another factor in withdrawal. Heroin is much harder to withdraw from than cocaine and much harder than drugs like caffeine or nicotine.
Withdrawal can begin within just a few hours of a person’s last use. The symptoms can last up to two weeks, sometimes longer. Some commonalities can be expected in various stages of withdrawal. Below is an average. Remember, every person can have a different amount of time in withdrawal.
Withdrawal in the First 24 Hours
Some report they begin feeling withdrawal symptoms after a few hours from last use.
In the first 24 hours, you may experience higher levels of anxiety. You are fearful because you don’t know what to expect. Or, you know what to expect and are dreading any other negative symptoms. You may also have severe muscle spasms and aches throughout your body.
Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms on the first day of detox, as well as sweating excessively. Many addicts find it hard to sleep or rest during this period.
Cravings during this time are intense. That’s why medical detox is so beneficial.
Withdrawal in Days 2-3
During the second and third days, symptoms of withdrawal are the reasons many people relapse and continue to use drugs or alcohol.
The psychological issues, such as mood swings and anxiety, can feel overwhelming. You may also experience depression. Sleeping issues continue because you are too uncomfortable to rest.
The physical symptoms continue, including diarrhea, tremors, vomiting, and cramping, especially in your stomach. You do not have an appetite, and you can expect an elevated blood pressure and heart rate.
It is also likely you will begin to feel like you have the flu. Shivers, runny nose, cold chills, hot flashes, and sweating can start to appear.
During the first two days of detox, your body’s temperature can rise and lower to unsafe levels. Your breathing may become more rapid, and you may experience severe mood swings. You may be irritable one moment, mild-tempered the next, and then angry.
You may even feel confused during this stage and find you struggle with memory and attention.
If you have made it this far in your detox process, you may notice hallucinations with any of the senses.
At this point during detox, symptoms can become more severe. Some have experienced seizures, which can happen as muscle spasms, convulsions, and twitching uncontrollably.
Cravings and urges can be hard to resist during this time. Again, medically supervised detox is highly recommended for everyone.
Withdrawal in Days 3-5
Some may be reaching the peak of their withdrawal symptoms by day three, while others peak around day five or six.
Physical problems can occur, like high blood pressure, that can lead to severe damage if not treated with medical assistance.
The good news is that after the peak of your withdrawal, your symptoms will begin to ease in the days to come.
You may continue to have flu-like symptoms as well as unexplained goosebumps and more nausea and vomiting, and other stomach issues. Your appetite and inability to sleep well may improve a little, but not completely.
Psychologically, your mind is trying everything it can to convince you to relapse. It wants to feel high again.
Fighting your cravings and urges may seem harder during this time. Therefore, you must stay in treatment. Transfer to inpatient treatment where you can maintain medical supervision while also getting support from therapists and peers.
Withdrawal in Days 6 and Longer
Some symptoms can last for weeks or months after detoxification. This is called protracted withdrawal symptoms.
Cravings will still exist even though they will not be as intense. You will start to notice environmental and social triggers, both of which make you want to relapse. You may even have dreams about using drugs again.
Sleep disturbances, fatigue, and being easily agitated or irritable are symptoms that may continue to appear over time. You may also notice problems with controlling your emotions.
Stay in treatment as long as you can. The more time you go without access to drugs or alcohol, the higher your chance of staying sober.
Before You Go Home
Symptoms can creep up at any time, especially when you are transitioning from a strict environment like rehab to your home environment with no structure or restrictions at all.
The solution is to deal with lingering withdrawal symptoms in a sober living home. You need the practice of establishing and living in a sober supporting environment. Sober homes give you this much deserved time.
Take opportunities like sober living now to avoid repeating detox and inpatient treatment later. You owe it to yourself. You deserve it.