Drug Withdrawal

Drug Withdrawal

Articles, Australia, Education, International, Malaysia, Treatment, Understanding Addiction, United Kingdom, United States

Drug Withdrawal is no easy feat, but it is important to understand that millions before you have managed it and millions more will continue to do so.

Let’s take a look at the issues which surround drug withdrawal and how best to achieve a life of continued sobriety.

When withdrawal begins:

Once a person forms a dependence upon a substance it means they cannot do without it. From the moment they cease use withdrawal symptoms will follow. It is important to understand that different drugs will have differing withdrawal symptoms and timespans. This is dependent upon how they interact with your brain and bodily functions.

When taken, drugs are absorbed and remain active in the body for differing amounts of time. You will often hear this being referred to as the drug’s “half-life”. This is in relation to the different withdrawal time periods for each substance.

Severity and duration:

The severity and duration of drug withdrawal is certainly influenced by the level of a person’s dependency on that particular substance as well as other factors which include:

  • The length of time you have been abusing the substance
  • The type of substance being used and abused
  • The favoured method of drug taking – This relates to whether you snort, smoke, inject or swallow the drug
  • Amount of the substance taken for each “hit”
  • Genetic makeup and family history
  • Medical factors that include the state of your physical and mental health

It stands to reason that the longer you have been addicted, the more pronounced the withdrawal symptoms will be.

Timeline examples of drug withdrawal:

The following information is a general overview and will not be specific to all. Some will feel withdrawal symptoms for a shorter period of time, others longer.

  • Heroin: Withdrawal begins within 12 hours from last dose, peaks between 24-48 hours and can last between a few weeks and a few months
  • Prescription opiates (e.g. methadone, OxyContin, Vicodin and morphine): Withdrawal starts within 8-12 hours for the majority of prescribed opiates, peaks between 12-48 hours and lasts 5-10 days. Methadone withdrawal is the exception. This begins within 24-48 hours, peaks in the first few days and lasts between a fortnight and one month.
  • Benzodiazepines (e.g. Valium, Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan): Withdrawal generally begins within 1-4 days and peaks during the first two weeks. It is possible that this group of drugs can cause protracted withdrawal lasting months.
  • Cocaine: Withdrawal starts within hours of the last dose, peaks in a few days and lasts between 1-10 weeks.
  • Alcohol: Withdrawal generally begins between 8 hours and a few days from the last drink, peaks within 24-72 hours and lasts a few weeks

Overcoming drug addiction is achievable:

While the above does not make particularly pretty reading, the fact is that the time spent going through withdrawal is nothing compared to the length of time you will have been addicted. As we stated at the beginning, drug withdrawal can be achieved. With strong will-power, determination, courage and self-belief you can kick your habit and look to a far better future.

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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