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Drug Withdrawal Timeline

Written by Tara Smith, May 22, 2018
Drugs and alcohol manipulate the chemistry within the brain resulting in altered mood and feelings. With prolonged exposure, this can create a new environment for your brain that is unpleasant to reverse. Without the proper  treatment and supplementation, the symptoms of withdrawal can last up to many months depending on the substance. 

What is drug withdrawal?


When the brain and body has been exposed to a compound or chemical for a prolonged period of time, it adjusts by creating a new homeostasis. Over time, the body becomes physically dependent on the substance and creates a tolerance, or needs a higher dose to exhibit the same physiological effect.


What happens when you remove the drug or compound that the body is used too? A variety of symptoms will arise depending on the substance that often results in pain, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, and possibly even seizures.

The timeline of withdrawal symptoms depends on the level dependency and the substances active half-life within the body.

Other factors will influence the withdrawal timeline, such as genetics, medical conditions, mental health factors and the manner in which the substance was delivered. For example, someone who has only used a small doses of opiates may have lessened withdrawal timeline and severity of symptoms compared to someone who has been using heavy doses of opiates for years.


Although individual experiences may vary, typical withdrawal symptoms appear with the following substances.


Initial withdrawal begins around 12 hours and typically comes to a peak around 24-48 hours.  


Initial withdrawal begins around 8 hours and typically comes to a peak around 12-48 hours.  


Initial withdrawal begins around 24-48 hours and with a peak in 2-4 days lasting for several weeks.


Initial withdrawal begins around 1-4 days and with a peak in the first two weeks. Benzodiazepine detoxification can last for several weeks or months.


Initial withdrawal begins about 8 hours after the last drink and with a peak within 24-72 hours and can last for a couple of weeks. 

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