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Detox Timeline

Providing Trusted, Evidence-Based
Treatment for Three Decades and Counting

If you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, we’re here to help.

Detox is the process of purging unhealthy or toxic substances from your body. The length of time this process takes depends on many factors, including the length of time you have taken the substance, the amount you took, the way you took it, your personal physiology and environment, and the type of substance taken. Substance abuse can lead to tolerance and dependence. Detoxing from most illicit drugs or substances will not be an easy process, and substance abuse dependency can lead to both physical and mental withdrawal complications, which can even be life-threatening.


Happy baby boomer in treatmentStimulant drugs include cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, Ecstasy, speed and prescription stimulants like ADHD medications. Stimulants increase bodily functions like blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate, and decrease appetite and the need for sleep. Stimulants also effect dopamine production in the brain. Dopamine is one of the brain’s chemical messengers partially responsible for attention, movement and pleasure.

Detoxing from stimulant drugs generally has three main phases: the initial crash phase, the withdrawal phase and the extinction phase. The crash phase can start as soon as a few hours after the last dose of the drug and last a few days. It is indicated by anxiety, agitation, restlessness, shaking and unhappy feelings. The withdrawal phase starts a few days into detox and can last a few weeks. Intense cravings, fatigue, insomnia and depression characterize this phase. The last phase starts after a few weeks without the drug and can last up to a few months. Depression and suicidal tendencies are common during the extinction phase, as are intermittent cravings.

Stimulant withdrawal is usually not life-threatening, although it can cause an emotional roller coaster and flu-like symptoms that may be difficult to endure without help. The Australian Department of Health published a study in which abusers detoxing from amphetamines were monitored; approximately 86 percent of the patients reported symptoms of withdrawal.


The hallucinogenic drug class includes such drugs as LSD, mescaline, “magic mushrooms,” PCP, and ketamine. Hallucinogens are thought to bind to neurotransmitter receptor sites in the brain, disrupting their natural absorption and production. These drugs can produce intense mood swings as well as hallucinations and changes in sensory perceptions. Hallucinogen withdrawal can start within a few hours or days of the drug leaving your system. Most symptoms are psychological and include anxiety, paranoia, violence, psychosis, depression and flashbacks. These effects generally last a few days to a few weeks, although some people have reported flashbacks even a few years later.

Central Nervous System Depressants

Opioids including prescription pain medications, benzodiazepine sedatives and tranquilizers as well as alcohol and illicit drugs like heroin and marijuana fall into the category of central nervous system depressants (CNS). CNS depressants suppress brain and bodily functions like blood pressure, respiration, heart rate, motor functions, pain sensations and cognition while promoting pleasure, relaxation and calming feelings. When these drugs are removed from the system, the brain can experience a rebound effect, which can be dangerous and even life-threatening.

With CNS depressants, withdrawal symptoms are both physical and emotional and may include:

  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Respiratory changes
  • Blood pressure irregularities
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Body aches or pains
  • Hallucinations
  • Chills
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Depression

In the case of alcohol withdrawal, delirium tremens (DT) can occur five to 24 percent of the time, as published by the Annuls of General Psychiatry. DT is indicated by tremors, hallucinations, anxiety and disorientation, and can occur within one to four days of stopping drinking. DT is potentially fatal and needs immediate medical attention.

Withdrawal symptoms generally start within a few hours to a few days for most CNS depressants, and they last days, weeks or even months. Each person will experience withdrawal differently; there is no strict timeline that is followed every time. Due to the extreme dangers of CNS depressants, detox should only be performed under direct medical supervision.

Here at Michael’s House, we offer medical and natural solutions with the assistance of consulting physicians to make the detox process as smooth as possible. Aftercare is also important to avoid relapse. Call us today; here at Michael’s House, we can help set you or your loved one on the path to a successful recovery.