People who abuse drugs and alcohol may eventually develop a physiological dependency on their substance of choice. Once dependency develops, addiction often follows. Addicts often find themselves thinking of when and where they can consume more alcohol or drugs. In alcohol-free and drug-free spaces, an addict may be wondering how one could go without drugs or alcohol. The answer depends on several factors.
Drug and alcohol cravings are often fueled by a desire to avoid withdrawal symptoms. In the body of a person who is dependent on drugs or alcohol, withdrawal symptoms emerge as the body rids itself of drugs and alcohol. Symptoms often may include nausea, headache, digestive upset, heart palpitation, anxiety, insomnia, psychological distress, and seizures. Each person may experience different withdrawal symptoms based on the severity of their addiction, the amount of time the individual has abused drugs or alcohol, and other health factors.
Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline
People who have an addiction to alcohol may begin craving their next drink within a matter of hours. Withdrawal symptoms can appear several hours after the person’s most recent drink. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are generally at their worst approximately 24 to 72 hours. Approximately 28 to 72 hours after drinking heavily, someone who is addicted to alcohol may experience delirium tremens, a condition that is marked by the sudden onset of confusion. Delirium tremens generally lasts three to four days but can last up to eight days.
Opioid Withdrawal Timeline
The timeline for opioid withdrawal depends on the type of opioid the person uses. The half-life of a drug can be used to predict when withdrawal symptoms are likely to begin. The term “half-life” refers to how long it takes the body to process half of the amount of a prescription drug a person consumes. Most opioids have a half-life of just a few hours. Therefore, one can expect withdrawal symptoms to begin as early as five or six hours after consuming most opioid drugs. Methadone has a longer half-life that can range from eight to sixty hours. Early withdrawal symptoms commonly include:
- Intense drug cravings
- Preoccupation with drugs
- Physical symptoms that worsen in intensity
At the peak stage, opioid users generally feel very sick. Peak withdrawal typically occurs after someone who has an opioid dependency has gone 24 hours without using drugs. With extended-release opioids, peak withdrawal may occur 36 to 72 hours after the most recent instance of drug use. At this stage, the person may strongly believe he or she needs the drug. Symptoms may include:
- Feeling hopeless
- Mood changes
- Diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting
- Increase in blood pressure
- Feeling extremely hot or cold
- Flu-like symptoms
- Rapid heartrate
Quitting Alcohol and Drugs for Good
People who overcome addiction can safely go the rest of their lives without drugs and alcohol. However, quitting cold turkey can be dangerous. Detox centers are available to support people who are looking to safely stop abusing drugs and alcohol. Medical detox programs provide close supervision and medication to alleviate and potentially prevent uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Detoxing and getting off of drugs and alcohol is only the beginning. After detoxing, it is important to immediately enroll in a substance abuse rehab program.
Getting Treatment to Stop Abusing Drugs and Alcohol
Rehab centers offer inpatient and outpatient programs to help people who struggle with substance abuse overcome their habit. Clients who are new to the recovery process and those who require more structure are generally recommended to enter a residential inpatient program that treats clients around the clock and provides lodging and meals. These programs allow the client to be removed from everyday stressors that may otherwise trigger a relapse. Inpatient and outpatient programs are available to people in the Boston area at all income levels.
Contact us at 833.970.2054 to speak with one of our knowledgeable addiction specialists. We will give you the information you need to find a detox program near you that meets your needs.