What Happens When You Stop Using Drugs?

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We know there are many benefits to quitting drugs. From improved physical and mental health to stability and healthier relationships, the advantages of quitting drugs far outnumber the benefits of using drugs. When people think about drug use, whether misuse or dependency, they often ask, “What happens when you stop taking a drug?”. Depending on the type of drug, frequency, and how long, the detoxification period is highly individual but generally follows a similar timeline. Here, we’ll discuss what happens when you go off drugs and cover the various drug detox timelines and withdrawal symptoms.

How Long Does Withdrawal Last?

Detox is the first step to sobriety. During the detoxification process, many experience withdrawal symptoms. Signs of withdrawal can start within hours of last using the drug and, depending on the severity, can last a few days to weeks. Withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the type of drug. The most common drug withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain or aches
  • Trembling
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Appetite changes
  • Paranoia

For some, the symptoms of withdrawal make them want to use their drug of choice to feel relief or “normal” again. It’s important to remember, these symptoms are temporary while the body adjusts to a new state of homeostasis and rids the body of the substance. A medically supervised detox can help offer comfort and ensure your health and safety while detoxing. Withdrawal from some drugs, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids can create a dangerous situation, including dehydration, high blood pressure, delirium tremens, or death and an at-home detox can put them at risk. Below, you can find drug withdrawal timelines for commonly misused drugs.

Drug Withdrawal Timeline for Commonly Misused Drugs

The following provides an overview of the most commonly abused drugs and a general drug withdrawal timeline. The exact duration depends on several factors, including the type of drug and the level of dependency, and can vary from person to person.

Opioid Withdrawal Timeline

Opioids include drugs such as heroin, morphine, hydrocodone, and methadone. Withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few hours, peak between day 2 or 3, and subside within 10 days with shorter acting opioids like heroin whereas longer acting opioids, such as methadone, take longer to clear the body with withdrawal symptoms often starting 48 hours from the last dose, peak at day 3, and can take up to 21 days to fully subside. Some opioid withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Restlessness
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Body aches
  • Fever
  • Sweating

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Timeline

Benzodiazepines, such as Valium, Xanax, Klonopin, and Ativan are highly addictive and like opioids, benzodiazepines are short- or long-acting drugs. Withdrawal from short- acting sedatives, such as Ativan, often begin within hours, peak at day 2, and resolve on day 5. Withdrawal symptoms for longer acting benzodiazepines, such as Valium, often begin after 7 days, peak at 14 days, and decrease over the next 14 days. Quitting benzodiazepines generally happens in 3 stages: Early, Mid, and Late. Symptoms include:

Early

  • Stomach upset
  • Anxiety
  • Increases pulse
  • Restlessness

Mid

  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Trembling

Late

  • Agitation
  • Unstable heart rate
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Stimulant Withdrawal Timeline

Stimulants include drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, diet pills, and medically prescribed drugs, such as Adderall. Stimulant withdrawal symptoms often start within the first 24 hours after the last use and can last up to 5 days. Stimulant withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Low mood or depression
  • Increased appetite

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can come on rapidly and as early as a few hours after the last drink, peak around day 1 to 3, and generally last 7 to 10 days. The most severe withdrawal symptoms may occur around day 3, and these include delirium tremens and seizures. Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Sweating

Drug Detox in Santa Rosa, CA

Drug withdrawal symptoms can feel overpowering and, in some instances, be dangerous. If looking for a medically supervised drug detox program in Santa Rosa, contact Pura Vida Recovery and speak with a helpful team member about our safe and comfortable residential detox and withdrawal management program.