The detox stage of addiction recovery is crucial to ensuring long-term sobriety. However, many people are unsure about the timeline for drug detox. One reason for this uncertainty is the detox timeline varies for various substances or drugs. It may also differ from one individual to another.

In this information-filled article, you will learn more about the detox timeline for various addiction recovery programs. We will also explore how long it will take you to detox from several substances. At the end of this article, you will have answers to all the questions you may have about detox and more.

Detox and What to Expect

If you are struggling with drug or substance abuse, detox is the first step you will take towards recovery. It is the process by which your body rids itself of the traces of alcohol and drugs in your system. With detox, you have the chance of being in good physical and mental condition for recovery and therapy.

When you sign up for addiction recovery treatment or rehab, you will first undergo an examination or assessment step before detoxing. This assessment is a means by which a medical professional or therapist assesses your drug use history and background. It is also a means to determine if you have any mental or health issues.

Following the assessment, the medical professional will determine the best therapy or treatment to place you on. Afterward, you will begin your detox. The timeline for drug detox varies depending on:

  • The substances you abused
  • The severity or intensity of abuse
  • The severity of your withdrawal symptoms.

You should note that the detox process can be the most challenging aspect of addiction recovery. Many have failed at this stage because of a lack of information about what to expect during the process. Others find it hard to cope with the symptoms they experienced during detox. Such fears and discomforts can cause medical detox to last longer than it is supposed to be.

However, you should not be afraid. A well-equipped rehab or addiction treatment center can handle the challenges associated with detox. With these centers or rehabs, you will have a safe and comfortable environment to go through medical detox. You will also have the best care and support attending to you as you experience withdrawal symptoms.

In the next section of this article, you will discover the timeline for drug detox for various drugs. This way, you will be better prepared for the detox process no matter the drug or substance you are detoxing from.

time to detox tree

How Long Does Drug Detox Take?

The answer to this question is not straightforward. The length of your medical detox process will vary depending on the substance or drug you are addicted to. Another factor to note is that different drugs require different medications for a safer detox. These medications have different timelines for effective action.

Therefore, if you’re detoxing from opiates, your detox may be longer and more uncomfortable than for someone detoxing from cocaine or alcohol abuse. Each drug or substance has its timeline and degree of discomfort. However, you can manage all the symptoms with the right care, support, and supervision.

Timeline for Opiate and Heroin Detox

When withdrawing from opiates, the timeline for drug detox can be between 24 hours to 72 hours. In some cases, it can take approximately seven days. You will experience flu-like withdrawal symptoms within a few hours to 24 hours after your last use of the drug.

These symptoms include:

  • Cold and hot sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Yawning
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Pains and muscle aches

Typically, symptoms usually last between one to three days and begin to disappear after day three. Once the symptoms start to diminish, you will regain your appetite while the cold and hot sweats will reduce.

Some rehab centers may give you Methadone, Suboxone, or an equivalent in the first few days of your detox. The dosage for this medication reduces every day until your symptoms cease.

The gradual reduction in dosage allows you to transition slowly until your body completely removes the opiates in your system. This slow opiate removal eases your detox process and makes it less harmful.

Sometimes, the timeline for drug detox from heroin and opiates lasts longer than usual. In such cases, it can be because of extended usage of Methadone or Suboxone. Extended usage can cause your withdrawal symptoms to persist. Hence, you will need special medical attention and more time to detox from Methadone or Suboxone.

Benzodiazepine Detox Timeline

Detoxing from benzodiazepines can be dangerous without professional care. You will experience symptoms like anxiety, irritability, and nausea. These symptoms may be accompanied by dry heaving. However, experts can reduce the effects of these symptoms with barbiturates or other long-acting benzos.

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines usually takes a few weeks. Although in severe cases, some patients experience symptoms that last for several months. These long-lasting symptoms are mostly seen in patients who are addicted to long-acting benzos like Valium.

It is possible to experience seizures while withdrawing from benzos. Hence, you should seek professional help to avoid or manage these symptoms.

Related Article: What is The Cost of Medical Detox in Ontario?

Cocaine Detox Timeline

The timeline for drug detox for cocaine is different from that of most other illicit drugs. Cocaine addicts don’t experience any severe physical withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it. However, they may experience mental withdrawal symptoms, which can be as intense and deadly as physical symptoms.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms of cocaine include depression and restlessness. These symptoms usually last up to seven to ten days. You may experience other symptoms related to stimulant withdrawal, such as mood swings, food cravings, fatigue and insomnia. Hence, it is always best to detox in a standard detox center to best manage these symptoms.

Marijuana Detox Timeline

It is somewhat easier to detox from marijuana than most other substances. You may experience withdrawal symptoms like chills, restlessness, headache, loss of appetite, and more.

However, you are likely to experience many of these symptoms within a day to three days of your last use of the substance. These symptoms may linger for about two weeks. Some persons experience fatigue and insomnia that lasts up to one month.

man thinking detox

Alcohol Detox Timeline

It is best to always seek medical supervision when detoxing from alcohol. The process can be dangerous if you don’t adhere to the proper measures. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include seizures, which can potentially cause death. Hence, you must be careful about it.

Usually, the timeline for drug detox for alcohol lasts five to seven days. You can break the process down into three phases. The first phase starts about eight hours after your last consumption. During that phase, you may experience symptoms like nausea, abdominal pain, insomnia, and anxiety.

In the second phase, which lasts one to three days, you may experience elevated blood pressure, increased body temperature, and confusion. How long this stage of alcohol detox takes depends on whether or not you use medication.

The third phase of alcohol detox is the most dangerous. However, drug detox services usually administer patients with medication to manage the symptoms at this stage. These symptoms include fever, hallucinations, increased agitation, and seizures. Typically, these symptoms start three days after your last consumption of alcohol and may persist for a few days.

The medication detox centers give to patients to avoid severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms include Valium and Librium. Patients continue with the medication for five to seven days. At that point, you will start feeling better.

With what you now know about the timeline for drug detox for several substances, you should have no fear about detoxing. With the multiple addiction treatment options and drug detox centers, you have all the help you need to undergo detox and continue with your recovery.

Detox Program Timelines

Several addiction detox centers help you cope with detox and move on to the next stage of addiction recovery. You can classify these detox programs into two types: Outpatient detox programs and Inpatient detox programs.

Outpatient detox: how long does it take?

Outpatient detox aims to reduce withdrawal symptoms. It also reduces the physical and mental complications that can come with drug detox. Hence, they provide patients with a safe means of exploring, achieving, and maintaining long-term sobriety.

Outpatient detox is recommended for people who have mild drug use disorders. Such persons have a low risk of experiencing complicated withdrawal symptoms. In such detox programs, you will have trained medical staff routinely monitoring your symptoms, behaviour, and substance cravings.

If they notice you don’t fit in with the program, they will refer you to a higher level of care. With that, your risk of relapse is reduced, ensuring your safety and wellbeing. Generally, you will not be recommended for outpatient detox if you exhibit the following:

  • Severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures or delirium.
  • History of not complying with treatment or relapsing.
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression.
  • Comorbid medical conditions or organ problems that need medical attention.
  • Increasing withdrawal symptoms like suicidal thoughts, psychosis, or severe body pain.

Outpatient detox usually lasts three to 14 days. However, the duration depends on the particular substance you are detoxing from, your frequency of use, and the quantity of substance you last consumed. Outpatient detox centers or settings include:

  • Partial Hospitalization: It is a level below inpatient detox but has inpatient care and attention that is more intense than standard outpatient programs. Treatment in these centers lasts up to eight hours per day, with patients returning home each evening.
  • Intensive outpatient treatment (IOP): In these programs, treatment is three to five days per week. Each day’s treatment lasts three to five hours. These treatments usually involve individual or group therapy and case management.
  • Outpatient Treatment: Here, patients attend a day or three days of treatment and detox weekly. These daily treatments usually last three to five hours.
  • Doctor or Therapist’s Office: Some outpatient programs involve visiting your therapist or doctor on appointed days. The medical professionals will prescribe medication to manage your withdrawal symptoms. They also provide tips to reduce your drug intake gradually until you are no longer addicted to them.

How long does inpatient detox take?

Inpatient detox centers are recommended for persons with severe drug or alcohol addiction. People exhibiting severe withdrawal symptoms or have chronic relapse histories are also recommended for inpatient detox.

If you have co-occurring mental conditions or concurrent health problems and are struggling with drug addiction, you enroll in an inpatient detox centre. However, if your withdrawal symptoms are mild or you have a low risk of having complicated symptoms, you are best suited for outpatient programs.

With inpatient drug detox services, you are provided with 24 hours of intensive care and medical attention. You will participate in multiple activities designed to make you less reliant on drugs gradually. Inpatient detox also includes several therapies, including cognitive and behavioural sessions, which aim to help you realize you can live a normal life without substance use.

Detox treatment in inpatient centers usually takes from five to 14 days. However, it depends on the drug type, frequency of use, and severity of withdrawal symptoms. You will receive intensive and around-the-clock care from trained medical staff in these centers. Examples of such centers include medical hospitals, inpatient rehabs, and specialized detox centers.

Related Article: What to Expect During In-Patient Detox


You are now at the end of this richly informative article. You should now be clear about the timeline for drug detox for several drugs and treatment programs. You also know what to expect during treatment and the kind of symptoms you may experience during detox. However, those symptoms should not scare you as you will be provided with all you need to go through the process at drug detox services.

If you want to take the first step to addiction recovery and proceed with drug detox, you must do so with a specialized center that understands your needs.

Look no further than our drug detox centre. Here at Medical Detox Ontario, you will always have the best care and support. More importantly, we can customize treatment plans to fit your unique situation. Contact us today to learn more!

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