How long a person experiences withdrawal symptoms during detox depends on a few factors, including what substance addiction they have, how long they have had it, and the amounts they have used. Initial withdrawal is referred to as acute withdrawal, which can be difficult to get through, particularly without professional assistance.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms may begin several hours after the last time a person drank and peak between 24-48 hours. Some people develop delirium tremens, commonly known as DTs, which can cause seizures and require hospitalization.
Short-acting opioids, which include heroin and some prescription painkillers, withdrawal symptoms begin 8-24 hours after the last dosage and typically last from 4-10 days. With longer-acting opioids, withdrawal symptoms appear in 2-4 days and typically end after about 10 days.
Stimulant withdrawal symptoms begin 1-3 days after the last usage. They peak after about one week.
Benzodiazepines, which include prescription medications such as Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin, withdrawal symptoms start 1-4 days after the last dosage and peak within two weeks.
After acute withdrawal, some people experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS refers to withdrawal symptoms that occur after the initial ones have run their courses. PAWS symptoms relate more to emotional and psychological reactions, such as depression and anxiety, rather than physical reactions. While the physical cravings for drugs and alcohol may have diminished or ended, PAWS symptoms can last for weeks or months and drive a person to relapse if they are not adequately addressed.