Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing neurological disorder. The Mayo…
Detox is the process an individual must go through to rid his or her body of any foreign substances. It is the conscious act of ceasing to use substances and allowing one’s body the opportunity to recalibrate and function without the presence of the abused substances in its system. Upon the discontinuation of an abused substance or substances, an individual will experience a combination of different physical responses, which are known as withdrawal symptoms. It is important to note that withdrawal symptoms, although likely intense during the detox phase, do not necessarily subside entirely upon completion of the acute detox process. Every individual is different and will have a somewhat unique experience when it comes to detoxing from any abused substance or substances.
There are certain contributing factors that play a role in regards to the duration an individual is likely to experience the detox process, from start to finish. The length of time one’s detox will take will vary and according to Addiction Center, depend on the following factors:
- Type of substance abused
- Potency of abused substance
- Frequency of substance abuse
- Personal health history
- Age of the individual
- Presence of any co morbid disorders
- Method of use (i.e. smoked, snorted, injected…etc.)
Each of the above factors will weigh into the potential length of time it will take for an individual to go through and successfully complete the detox phase of his or her recovery.
Taking into consideration the contributing factors, for some individuals detox can last as short as two days long, while for others it may take as long as several months to complete. The type of substance abused plays a large role in the duration of one’s detox experience. Every substance has a different half-life. The half-life is the length of time it takes to reduce the concentration of the substance to 50% in one’s system. This helps to give an indication for the duration of time it will take for the substance to fully metabolize and pass through one’s system. Therefore, an abused substance with a relatively short half-life will likely lead to a shorter detox period. Each abused substance is associated with a somewhat different detox timeline, in addition to varied withdrawal symptoms. Individuals that abuse more than one substance may encounter more severe withdrawal symptoms and/ or experience a longer detox process. There is no set timeframe that encompasses every detox situation, nor can an individual can expect to know the precise length of time it may take to conclude his or her detox process prior to its commencement.
There are several different methods to choose from when it comes to detox. While the detox process is challenging and potential withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable, there are some substances that do not necessarily warrant the need for professional detox assistance. Some individuals will opt for the quit “cold-turkey” method and will undergo detox at home with minimal supervision or support. While this may yield successful results for some, detoxing can be an arduous process and the severe discomforts of withdrawal symptoms may send someone right back to abusing drugs and/ or alcohol as a means to eradicate experiencing the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, resulting in an unsuccessful detox. Even in situations where quitting cold-turkey seems like the best option, having the support of another individual can make an enormous difference in the outcome. There are also many situations where a professionally supervised detox is the best course of action. For example, there are certain substances that can be extremely dangerous and, in some cases, lethal from which to detox without professional supervision. Furthermore, some individuals may require medical intervention at some point during their detox process. In these situations, it is best to undergo a supervised, medically assisted detox. This will ensure the physical safety of the individual throughout the duration of his or her detox process.
Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous.
If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction.
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