As of 2009, nearly 24 million people are suffering from drug or alcohol abuse. Among this group, only two million are
receiving treatment. With the first part of this treatment being detox, it is clear that we have a long way to go.

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What is Detox?

Detox is the act of removing yourself from a drug for a planned period. Typically, this is from 24-48 hours, but it can vary depending on the factors.

This fact brings us to our focus on this article. What are the effects of drug and alcohol detox on the body and mind? The short answer is addiction cravings, pain, and negative thoughts. We will go into the details of this article. 

The Detox Process

A detox is successful when most of the traces of recent use are gone. When you are no longer drunk on alcohol or high on drugs, your detox is over

Examples of this are in your local jail. If you have ever seen someone or are someone who has ended up in the drunk tank, this is the police’s version of detox. Police don’t tend to allow you to have alcohol during the several hour periods that you are inside of an individual cell.

You can start a detox session of your own volition. Say you decide to reach out to a friend for support in starting this. You choose to pour all of your alcohol down the drain and flush your drugs down the toilet. Do not do this.  The chemical withdrawal, your body experience can be dangerously intense.

The adverse effects of drugs should is best handled by a professional. They may provide you with something to dull the pain in the process. Depending on the severity, they may prescribe more intense treatments.

Towels in Detox

What Do Withdrawals Look Like?

The first 48 hours are the most intense time that an addict will go through. Going from a state of consistently consuming drugs to taking none of them is incredibly difficult.

Physical Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Racing Heart
  • Muscle Tension and Aches
  • Heart Attack
  • Strokes
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations


The physical symptoms vary massively depending on your drug of choice. But long term abuse of any drug can cause you to have incredibly die effects.

Emotional & Mental Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Poor Concentration and Memory
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts


Emotional reactions tend to be the same regardless of the drug. The intensity of these will vary depending upon the person. They may go back to where their mental state was. Exposure to treatment may reveal what got them into alcohol in the first place.

How Long Does It Take to Detox?

Detox periods vary depending on the drugs taken.  We will list out different addictive substances below.

Heroin syringe

Opiates (Heroin)

Street drugs and prescription opioids have different periods. Heroin addiction will take 24 to 48 hours for the effects of the drug to leave their bodies. The street drug takes several weeks, or even months, to get over withdrawal symptoms. Many long term effects stay for a lifetime.

Prescription drugs take anywhere from 12 to 48 hours to leave the body. But their long-term symptomatic effects on the body are eliminated in around five to ten days. This timeline depends on the type of opioid and the strength of the dosage.



Alcohol takes anywhere from 24 to 72 hours to get over most physical withdrawals. It will depend on the level of drunkenness. It also says nothing of the long-term effects that come with alcohol, a reality that addicts have to deal with after detox.

The long-term period can take many weeks or months but tends to be shorter than heroin. The recovery period for most alcoholics is a life-long journey.

Prescription pills


Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” are a drug that is for treating anxiety disorders. It takes a couple of weeks for this drug to leave the body. During this time, withdrawal symptoms will persist. The long-term effects can take several months or years to be gone entirely. Benzos are an extremely potent substance, and withdrawals can cause death. 


Cocaine is such an addictive drug that it can take up to ten weeks to stop suffering from withdrawal symptoms. While detox may be limited to a couple of days, the chemical dependence behind cocaine is intense.

Cocaine’s effects are so potent that a small number of uses will certainly cause lifetime effects.

Why You Should Not Do A "Fast" Detox

Rapid detox can lead to some incredibly dangerous situations.  Interestingly, rapid detox has some advocates. Still, it is an expensive method that can lead to negative symptoms. We will list those symptoms below.

  • Paranoia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Choking
  • High body temperature
  • Death

There are even some incredibly fast detox methods that are supposed to take as little as several hours. According to the Coleman Foundation, one in fifty people die from rapid detox.

What If I Get Addicted Again?

If you get back into the same drugs, you are highly likely to try and go back to the same level you used to take. As a result, you have an incredibly high likelihood of giving yourself an overdose. If you feel the urges to retake your drug, please reach out to us immediately or 911. You are worth more than that.

Getting Help

Detox is an intensive process that forces addicts to be without their drug for a period of one to three days. The ultimate goal is to reach sobriety, but the emotional and physical hurdles one will have to overcome.

Depending on the drug of choice, symptoms for getting rid of the drug can take anywhere between twelve hours to ten weeks. The effects of many of these drugs can last a lifetime.

If you feel the urge to retake your drug, please reach out to a friend or 911. Detoxing is a process that takes time, so try not to fall into a quick solution. With a good support network and advice from a doctor, you or your friends will be able to get through this.


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