How long will detox last?



The question of how many days a Detox will take is almost always asked by every patient about to enter care.


Although the average length of detox can range from 5-10 days, the length of Detox can vary widely due to the individual circumstances and needs of every patient. One’s drug of choice will impact the detox process, as each drug has a different potential for withdrawal effects. If using greater than one classification of substance the detoxification process can be more complicated and slightly longer in duration. Other variables such as age, gender, and weight can play a factor. Additionally, overall mental and physical health plays a significant role in the course of treatment and will impact the length of Detox.

Many individuals don’t realize that in addition to unpleasant physical symptoms, abrupt discontinuation of certain drugs or alcohol without medical supervision can lead to seizures, dehydration, psychosis, or in severe cases death. A medically supervised detox by experienced licensed and credentialed providers does not need to be unpleasant. A good team of medical and clinical practitioners can make the process quite pleasant and comfortable. Additionally, detox does not need to occur in a hospital setting and can be safely accomplished in a private facility with a variety of amenities designed to promote overall wellness.

Detox starts with a detailed history of the substances being taken and a thorough assessment of physical symptoms indicative of withdrawal. Depending upon the substances one has become reliant upon, unpleasant physical and mental feelings can begin within hours of last use and progressively worsen with each passage of time. Two scales, the CIWA and CWS, are utilized multiple times daily throughout the course of detox to help guide the process and duration of medication titration. According to the Clinical Institute of Withdrawal Assessment of Alcohol Scale (CIWA-Ar) that is widely utilized in evidenced based detoxification settings, symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol can include the following: nausea and vomiting; sweating; tremors; anxiety; tactile, auditory, and visual disturbances; headaches, and disorientation. According to the Clinical Withdrawal Scale (CWS) that is also widely utilized in detoxification treatment, symptoms of withdrawal from opioids can include the following: Increased pulse rate; sweating; restlessness; abnormal pupil size; bone or joint aches; runny nose or tearing eyes; tremors; yawning; anxiety or irritability; changes in skin roughness or goosebumps, and GI (stomach) upset.

Another important aspect of treatment duration is that which is determined by following the specific guidelines by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). ASAM guidelines should be utilized in any empirically guided program. One continues to meet criteria for the inpatient detoxification level of care when at least one of three dimensions are met. Inpatient detox requires daily re-assessment in order to determine medical needs and the course of treatment. The length of detoxification treatment can vary from person to person, which is optimal for individualized treatment that is not predetermined based upon other factors.

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