Everyday Health: How long does withdrawal last?
David Sack, MD:Withdrawal generally lasts three to five days, though the length and severity depend on the particular drug or drugs of abuse. More severe problems and addictions to certain drugs, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, may require one or two weeks of supervised detoxification.
John Mak, MD: Persons addicted to a medication can suffer from withdrawal symptoms if that medication is abruptly discontinued. The body and the brain will reactadversely. In the case of opioid addiction, the body stops producing its own natural painkillers – endorphins – because opioids look just like endorphins to nerve cells. The body becomes dependent on this imitation endorphin to function. Therefore the length of withdrawal symptoms will vary from weeks to months, depending on how long it takes the body to start producing its natural endorphins again. The amount of time the body requires to recover and start producing endorphins will in turn depend on the type of drug abused and the length of abuse.
Akikur Mohammad, MD:Withdrawal can last days to weeks, depending on the substance used, how long and how much the person used it, and the person's overall health.
Dana E. Zalkind, MD:Withdrawal from a drug or alcohol can occur with abrupt cessation of the substance or decrease in the amount consumed. Drug detoxification is the removal of the offending drug from the body. Withdrawal symptoms can vary according to the drug that's being stopped, as well as the amount of the drug that was consumed each day and the number of days the drug was used. The duration of physical withdrawal is typically three to five days; however, emotional withdrawal can be much longer. Some symptoms can be present for many months. Withdrawal symptoms can range widely and include depression, anxiety, anorexia, insomnia, and even suicidal thoughts or death. Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol can include nausea, vomiting, insomnia, anorexia, tremors, and rapid heart rate. Severe alcohol withdrawal usually requires a high level of medical attention: Fevers, seizures, tremors, hallucinations, and convulsions can be life threatening.
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines, such as Valium, can also entail medically significant complications. Withdrawal from opioid-based medications such as oxycodone usually doesn't entail medical emergencies and is not life threatening; however, the symptoms can still be quite unpleasant. They can include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, confusion, sweating, muscle aches, flulike syndrome, chills, rhinitis, depression, dysphoria, cravings, and paranoia. Most of these symptoms improve in several days. If someone has been on a high-dose, long-acting opioid such as methadone, withdrawal symptoms could last for several months. There are other, nonopioid medications that can help mitigate or ease the symptoms of withdrawal, but they won't eliminate them completely. Support groups and professional medical intervention can be an integral part of managing withdrawal and preventing a relapse in drug use.
John F. Natale, LCADC: This varies with the types of drugs and also with the length of time the drugs were used. But detoxification takes approximately five to fifteen days.