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How Long Do Withdrawals Last? Benzos, Alcohol Opiates & More

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Timeline

 

You may be familiar with the most popular Benzos:

Common benzodiazepines include Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Valium (diazepam), Restoril (temazepam).

Benzodiazepines are Schedule IV controlled substances per the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. These drugs are listed in the U.S. They are sedatives and tranquilizers prescribed to treat symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, panic, seizure disorders, and muscle tensions or spasms. Alprazolam, the generic name for Xanax, was the 13th most prescribed medication in the country in 2012, according to a survey done by IMS Health. These medications are regularly taken recreationally, or abused for nonmedical purposes, in addition to being taken as legitimate prescriptions.

How long do withdrawals last for Benzos (Xanax)?

Most benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms begin within 24 hours, and can last from a few days to several months, depending on the length of the abuse and the strength of the benzo used. The withdrawal symptoms are often called “benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome”. Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are commonly prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, and other mental health conditions. These drugs can be highly addictive. When a person takes benzodiazepines for a long period of time, they can develop a tolerance to the drugs and may need to take higher and higher doses to get the same effect. It is important to remember that there is no specific timeline dictating exactly how long withdrawal from a benzo, or benzodiazepine, medication will last. It can be a quick few days or it can be a few months.

While each individual may experience withdrawal differently, certain estimations can be made. Benzodiazepine withdrawal duration and intensity depend on several factors, including:

Type of benzo used

How long someone’s been taking benzos

Dosage amount

Method used to take or abuse benzodiazepines

Family History / Genetics

Abuse of other drugs or alcohol concurrently

Alcohol Withdrawal Timeline

 

A recent study by the National Institute of Health has found that alcohol causes 88,000 deaths a year. It’s been reported that alcohol has shortened the lifespans of those 88,000 human beings by 30 years on average.

It’s important to note that this number is actually an underestimate of the effects of alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down your central nervous system and suppresses the activity of neurotransmitters in your brain. It’s more likely to affect the parts of your brain that control voluntary muscle movements, which is why it can impair your coordination, slow down your reaction time, and even affect your speech.

What is Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome?

Alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is a set of symptoms that occur when someone who is physically dependent upon alcohol suddenly stops drinking or drastically reduces their alcohol intake. In most cases, AWS is not fatal, but it can be extremely unpleasant and potentially dangerous. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 15 million people, or 7.1 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, suffer from an alcohol use disorder. In order to withdraw from alcohol, it is important to know the symptoms of withdrawal so that you can learn to recognise them. Alcohol acts as a depressant because it stimulates the brain’s GABA and glutamate receptors. GABA is the main inhibitory chemical in the brain, which makes the brain less excitable. Alcohol causes the brain to become less excitable. Glutamate is the main excitatory chemical in the brain, which makes the brain more excitable.

How long do withdrawals last for Alcohol?

When a person drinks alcohol it changes the functioning of GABA receptors as well as certain glutamate receptors, resulting in a slowdown of brain functioning that a person typically experiences as decreased anxiety and sedation. These receptors are abundant in the brain, especially in the cerebellum, which is responsible for the regulation of motor functions and is often damaged by alcohol abuse. When you drink alcohol, your body adapts to it. This adaptation functions as long as you continue to drink alcohol. This is known as “tolerance. The withdrawal symptoms a person experiences as well as their severity may vary greatly from one person to the next, and it has been estimated that more than 80% of those with an alcohol use disorder may experience withdrawal symptoms.

12 to 24 hours

Some may have hallucinations at this point. They may hear or see things that aren’t there. While this symptom can be scary, doctors don’t consider it a serious complication.

24 to 48 hours

Minor withdrawal symptoms usually continue during this time. These symptoms may include headache, tremors, and stomach upset. If a person goes through only minor withdrawal, their symptoms usually peak at 18 to 24 hours and start to decrease after four to five days.

48 hours to 72 hours

Some people experience a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that doctors call the delirium tremens (DTs) or alcohol withdrawal delirium . A person with this condition can have a very high heart rate, seizures, or a high body temperature.

Opioid / Opiate / Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

How Do Opioids Affect the Brain?

When you take an opioid, you could feel a variety of effects, including drowsiness, relaxation, and slowed breathing. Opioids are a class of drugs that include both naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals. Opioids are primarily used to treat pain. They attach to the opioid receptors in various parts of the brain, leading to pain relief and feelings of pleasure, which is why opioids are often abused. Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin, opium, codeine, methadone, and oxycodone. The drugs work by acting on opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. When opioids bind to these receptors, they can drive up dopamine levels in the brain.

So, in a sense, when dopamine is released as a result of an opioid, the drug “tells” the brain to continue behaving in the same way, which is a contributing factor to what makes opioids addictive. As you build tolerance to opioids, you need a larger dose to get the same sensations as you used to. At this point, you may begin to feel withdrawal symptoms when you don’t have access to the drug. Eventually, you could become physically dependent on the drug. The withdrawal symptoms are often described as beginning hours after the last dose of opioids, and including a runny nose, sweating, goose bumps, dilated pupils, yawning, loss of appetite, irritability, restlessness, agitation, tremors, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, cramps and insomnia. It’s no wonder we’ve had to many problems with the Opioid Epidemic.

How long do withdrawals last for Heroin / Opiates / Opioids?

If you’re asking how long does opioid withdrawal last, the answer depends on the opioid that you’re addicted to and how long you’ve been using it for. Many people who are addicted to opioids can experience withdrawal symptoms within a few hours of their last dose. The general rule is that it takes 30 days to break a habit. The habit loop consists of three steps: a cue, a routine and a reward. The cue is what triggers the habit loop. The routine is the habit you want to change and the reward is the benefit you get from doing so. A full drug abuse history should also include the method of abuse (e.g., snorting, smoking, injecting, or swallowing) and the amount taken each time. A complete drug history should also include the number of years the patient has been using drugs, the frequency of use, and the presence of any withdrawal symptoms. The easiest way to come off of Opiates or Heroin is through medically assisted detox in rehab followed by a customized opiate treatment program.

Stimulant Withdrawal Timeline

The stimulant withdrawal process can be intense. Symptoms are usually moderate to severe and can lead to relapse if not properly managed. The effects of stimulants vary from person to person, but they all increase the brain’s supply of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Dopamine is responsible for regulating movement, emotion, motivation, cognition, and feelings of pleasure. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a stimulant is a drug that enhances activity in the central nervous system. The most common stimulants are nicotine, caffeine, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, and methamphetamines. Stimulants can make people feel more awake and alert, and enhance feelings of pleasure.

Once you’re in the grips of stimulant withdrawal, it can be difficult to do anything. You may find that you can’t sleep, you feel depressed, and you have no motivation to do anything. But for a lot of people, the effects of stimulant withdrawal are much more severe. The precise withdrawal timeline is influenced by pharmacokinetic factors, such as the half-life of the substance abused, but also by how long you abused the substance. In particular, the risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms is highest when the substance is stopped abruptly or when the dose is decreased rapidly. For example, meth has a longer half-life than cocaine, and withdrawal may be longer if you are detoxing off of meth compared to cocaine.

How Withdrawals Last for Stimulants?

Phase 1

After you stop using stimulants, especially if you’ve used them in a binge fashion, your body will experience a crash. This may manifest with feelings of anxiety, sadness, agitation, and extreme cravings. The crash is an important part of the withdrawal process because it lets you know that your body is healing and rebalancing. After the initial crash, you may begin feeling mental and physical exhaustion. Depressive symptoms may begin to emerge during this time. It may be accompanied by strong cravings for carbohydrates and sugar (the brain needs a lot of energy to recover). Your sleep cycles are going to be disrupted at first. Your thoughts may feel scattered and you might experience a “tweaking” period due to lack of sleep. If you are tweaking you may have rapid eye movements, jerky movements, extreme irritability, paranoia, and delusions.

Phase 2

This phase typically lasts for 24 to 36 hours after the initial crash, and you will experience an intense desire for sleep. Around the time of your menstrual cycle, you should expect to experience some fatigue. This is normal and unavoidable because of the hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menstrual cycle. However, in spite of your fatigue, you may have trouble sleeping and may be extremely low on energy, both physically and mentally. Many people find themselves turning to alcohol, benzos, and opioids to help them get a good night’s sleep. However, these substances can have negative side effects and, in extreme cases, can be fatal.

Phase 3

As the first week of the stimulant withdrawal period comes to a close, users will find themselves generally sleepier and hungrier than normal. Nighttime sleep lasts longer and eventually tapers back to normal.

Phase 4

For up to 18 months following the last usage of stimulants, it’s not uncommon to experience intense bouts of depression, anxiety, and even rage. These kind of behaviors often result in destructive behavior that can perpetuate the addiction

 

We’re Here For You

The cycle of addiction can be extremely painful. The only way to become free from the chains of addiction is to stop and stop for good. Doing so may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, but its worth it. When you add in withdrawals and the psychological stress of day-to-day life, breaking the cycle of addiction and withdrawals can be almost impossible on your own.

Fortunately, Detox In Rehab makes the withdrawals much more manageable. It increases your chances of success exponentially. Please reach out if you’d like to learn about what’s available to you.

That’s why we are huge supporters of getting into a treatment program that puts some distance between you, your friends, and your old way of doing things that’s keeping you stuck. Reach out and give us a call today. It’s totally free and confidential for men and women – plus all of our staff have been through this and know exactly what you’re going through.

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