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How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms depend on a variety of factors, the most significant being the drug in question. The drugs that produce the most unpleasant and dangerous withdrawal symptoms are opiates and sedatives. Withdrawal from these drugs can produce miserable withdrawal symptoms that can be dangerous or even life-threatening, so it is absolutely critical that detox be conducted under medical supervision.

The length and severity of the addiction also influence the duration of withdrawal symptoms. Generally the longer someone has abused a drug, the longer he will experience withdrawal symptoms. Also an addict who regularly uses large doses will suffer worse withdrawals than someone who uses smaller doses.

Duration of Opiate Withdrawal

Many recreational drug users seek out short-acting opiates such as heroin and oxycodone. These substances produce severe withdrawal symptoms that have a rapid onset and relatively short duration. Symptoms may emerge as early as eight hours after the last dose, and at least within 24 hours in most cases. Symptoms will usually peak around 36 to 48 hours, and the worst symptoms will subside after three to five days.

Long-acting opiates such as methadone and Suboxone are often used to treat opiate addiction. They produce less severe withdrawal symptoms, but they last much longer, sometimes from four to seven weeks. Once the physical withdrawal symptoms have subsided, psychological conditions such as cravings for the drug and severe depression may last for months. People who struggle with opiate addiction should seek professional help when attempting to quit.

Duration of Sedative Withdrawal

Sedatives include alcohol, barbiturates and benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines (benzos or BZDs) are drugs such as Ambien, Klonopin and Xanax that treat insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks and seizure conditions. They have largely replaced barbiturates, and they are highly addictive. Some benzodiazepines have become popular among recreational users, but medical patients can also become addicted to these substances. All sedative/hypnotics produce withdrawal symptoms similar to those of alcoholism. Symptoms can be quite severe and can induce life-threatening seizures and thoughts of suicide.

In addition to the length and severity of addiction, the rate of detox affects the severity and duration of withdrawal. In the case of benzodiazepines, rapid detox produces the most severe withdrawal symptoms and may lead to benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, which can cause withdrawals to persist for years. It is imperative to taper dosages gradually to avoid long-term complications with detox. Trying to quit cold turkey from benzodiazepines is a recipe for disaster and should never be done. In general, the longer and more gradual the tapering process, the less severe the withdrawal symptoms. Tapering regimens often last from 6-12 months. Patients may experience withdrawal symptoms during this time, but with proper tapering these symptoms should be tolerable.

How to Beat Withdrawal Symptoms

Call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline for information on how to detox safely. You can quit your drug addiction, and we can help.

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