How Long do Withdrawals Last?

Detoxing from Drugs and Alcohol – How Long do Withdrawals Last?

Substance abuse is not an isolated problem. It is a mental disorder that affects as much as 9.4 percent of the people aged 12 and older who had abused alcohol or drugs in the last month in 2013, according to a compilation of findings by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Once a person has become addicted to a substance, they have to face withdrawal symptoms. How long do withdrawals last? In this article, we will explore the average length of most withdrawal symptoms based on the drug that was abused.

Causes of Withdrawal Symptoms

The frequent abuse of drugs or alcohol can lead to various changes in the body and the way that your brain functions. Drugs and alcohol are not a natural part of your body and when there is an abundance of a substance in a person’s body, the brain and body changes to counteract it. Eventually, with repeated use over time, the body becomes used to and reliant on the substance as a part of its new equilibrium.

When the person then decides to get their life back by stopping their substance abuse, the body and mind suffer for a time as it tries to return to its natural state – known as withdrawal symptoms. The type of drug that was taken, method of delivery, genetics, mental and physical health and the duration of the abuse are factors that can influence the length of withdrawal symptoms.

Each drug has its own set of withdrawal symptoms as well as a different withdrawal timeline. The following looks at commonly abused substances and their estimated withdrawal time.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

In the case of a cocaine addiction, how long do withdrawals last? The initial “crash” period can carry on for around four days, starting at around the nine hour mark after the last use. This is where the addict will experience physical symptoms such as increased appetite and insomnia.

The acute stage is where depression, anxiety, fatigue and insomnia occur, and usually lasts between one to three weeks.

The final stage, or the extinction stage, can last for several months. In this time, a person experiences depression and possible suicidal thoughts.

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

In a prescription pain killer or heroin addiction, how long do withdrawals last? All opiates exhibit the same withdrawal symptoms, and they begin around the eight hour mark. In the opiate withdrawal symptoms timeline, the peak of the symptoms is usually seen around the 12 to 48 hour period. During this time, a person experiences symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, muscle aches, stomach cramps and nausea.

After about 7 to 10 days, most of the symptoms will have faded, but symptoms such as depression and anxiety can last for several weeks, particularly when there isn’t  professional treatment.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline

In an alcohol addiction case, how long do withdrawals last?  The alcohol withdrawal symptoms timeline normally begins around eight hours after the last drink was had. The starting stage has symptoms such as nausea insomnia and anxiety.

The second stage is when symptoms begin to peak, such as high blood pressure, confusion, irritability and mood swings. The stage-two symptoms begin around 24 hours after the person stopped drinking and last for around three days.

The final stage can bring on delirium tremens, but not everyone gets. Those who are affected by it require medical attention. The third stage begins after about three days and can last until the 7 to 10 day mark.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.