Drugs and alcohol can take a significant toll on your body. From physical and mental changes to those that affect your emotions and overall well-being, they cause detrimental long-term effects long after the highs and lows of the substances are over.
Becoming sober is a monumental feat and a step in the right direction for those living with substance use disorders.
If you or a loved one has recently decided to become sober and are planning on, or in the process of, detoxing, it is vital to know the signs and symptoms of detox.
Although many of the detox symptoms are uncomfortable and hard to manage at first, they are well worth it for long-term recovery and better health and wellness.
Let’s dive into the signs and symptoms of detoxing in more detail.
What Is a Detox?
Detox, or withdrawal, is your body’s way of getting a drug or substance entirely out of your body once you decide to stop taking it.
If you’ve used drugs or alcohol for a long time, changes in your brain have made your body more dependent on that substance.
Whether you wean yourself off of a substance or stop it abruptly, detoxing can have various effects on your body and brain as you try to get back to a normal state of non dependence on substances.
5 Signs Your Body is Detoxing
As your body begins to detox from drugs or alcohol, you will start to notice many changes in your physical, mental and emotional health.
The five most common signs that your body is effectively detoxing include
1. Body Pain
Often felt as physical muscle pain, your body sends signals to your brain to let it know that it needs more of the substance to combat the pain. These typically subside within 2-4 days.
Emotional and mental instability comes into play when withdrawing from drugs and alcohol, including anxiety, which can manifest as severe panic attacks. During detox treatment, doctors work to mitigate any severe anxiety symptoms that may arise through effective therapies that do not require medication.
Any time your body experiences big changes, fatigue can arise. The same is true with drug and alcohol detox. Stimulating your body and mind to rid itself of toxins requires a lot of work, leaving you mentally and physically exhausted. You can expect more regular sleep patterns to occur after your full detox.
Cravings are common during detoxification, especially when your body is used to taking a specific substance regularly. Often, the best way to curb cravings is to talk through them, increase your water intake and stay busy with healthy distractions.
5. Nausea, Vomiting and Diarrhea
As your body readjusts to a new normal, all of your systems can experience symptoms, including your digestive system. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are all common symptoms of alcohol and drug detox as your body tries to regulate what you’re now putting into your system versus what you have in the past.
Other Common Symptoms of Detox
Depending on the severity of your detox, your body can experience various symptoms throughout the process.
Aside from the five most common symptoms, you may also experience:
- Appetite changes
- Excessive sweating
- Leg cramping
- Mood swings
- Skin changes such as rashes
Although rare, some people may experience more severe symptoms such as seizures, delirium and hallucinations.
How Long Does a Full Detox Take?
The short answer is that detox length depends on the substance and the magnitude of the affected person’s dependence.
For most, detox will follow this substance-based timeline:
- Alcohol: The first signs of detox may begin to appear within several hours after the last drink. Alcohol detox symptoms typically peak 24-72 hours after stopping consumption. For those with a heavier dependence, full alcohol detox may take over a week and include delirium tremens that develop 2 to 3 days into detoxing and last 3-4 days.
- Heroin and Prescription Painkillers (Short-Acting Opioids): Detox symptoms usually begin 8-24 hours after last use and can last 4 to 10 days.
- Methadone (Long-Acting Opioids): Longer-acting opioid detox symptoms typically take longer to appear and don’t usually develop until 2-4 days after detox begins. A complete detox concludes within 10 days.
- Benzodiazepines: Detox begins within 1 to 4 days after the last use, peaking in severity within the first two weeks. Sometimes, certain symptoms can last for months without proper care and specialized treatment.
Addiction Treatment and Detox Help Near You
If not medically managed, detox from certain substances, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, can be quite severe. Working with addiction specialists to help you manage your symptoms and feel better sooner during detox is important.
If you or a loved one is currently addicted to drugs or alcohol, we encourage you to detox with our medical team at Alpine Recovery Lodge for the best care and long-term recovery results. Call 801-874-2917 and speak confidentially with our recovery experts today.