Each person’s withdrawal is unique in length and intensity but a loose prediction of how your withdrawal will transpire can be inferred from your degree of drug dependency and the following factors:
- The span of time using a particular substance
- The type of substance
- The size of intake each time
- Mental health
- Medical health
- Family history with addiction and genetics
There are common withdrawal symptoms expected from different types of drugs. Although each person’s toxification and withdrawal experiences are unique based on the above factors, you can expect these general symptoms.
Cocaine is a stimulant and has the particular trait of a non-physical withdrawal. Because of its relatively discrete symptoms, many people don’t recognize when someone close to them has a cocaine addiction. This is also the reason cocaine withdrawals are not considered a threat to the patient’s life.
A cocaine withdrawal starts only a few hours after the last dose and generally has three parts beginning with the Coke Crash, which could last between nine hours and four days, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Symptoms during this time include lethargy, sleeping for days, depression, agitation, and an increased appetite.
One might infer that these symptoms are very much the opposite of the usual high-on-cocaine characteristics. The crash peaks a few days later and the acute withdrawal sets in, bringing in one to three weeks of body chills, anhedonia (the state of being unable to experience pleasure due to reduced dopamine levels), crazy dreams, and paranoia, which can lead to psychosis and violence.
The third and final phase is duly named “extinction” and usually happens at around 30 weeks or more. This phase still includes periodical cravings but generally after 30 weeks (or 200 days), cravings disappear. However, they may still continue for a few months along with depression and suicidal thoughts.
Heroin withdrawals begin in under 12 hours from the last dosage, peaking between 12 and 48 hours, and continue for a week to a few months. Opioid withdrawal symptoms are flu-like, producing muscle aches, runny nose, sweating, insomnia, yawning, agitation, and anxiety.
In the late withdrawal period, the patient will experience more severe symptoms of heroin withdrawal, which include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, body chills, and yawning but being unable to sleep, cramps in the abdomen, and dilated pupils. Evidently, a heroin withdrawal for most people is one of the most challenging drug-related withdrawals one can have.
Although not considered a life-threatening withdrawal, it can still be very dangerous and should only take place under professional medical aid as complications may eventually become life-threatening.
Prescription Opiates (including methadone, morphine, Vicodin, OxyContin) withdrawals begin between 8 and 12 hours for most people and steadily peak between 12 and 48 hours; This continues for 5 to 10 days. Methadone treatment, an opiate used to treat heroin withdrawals, begins between 24 and 48 hours and peaks at a few days, which usually lasts for 2 to 4 weeks.
Benzodiazepines (including Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan) withdrawals can begin in 1 to 4 days, and peak anywhere in the first or second week. Interestingly, this drug has been known to produce lingering withdrawals without treatment may last months or even years. During the peak of this withdrawal, many symptoms often occur such as irritability, anxiety, short-term memory loss, panic attacks, tremors, tension, hypertension, headache, interrupted sleep, headaches, sweating, nausea, muscle pain, rigidity, and irregular heart rate.
“Benzos” as they are often called, introduce the possibility of extreme withdrawal side effects such as hallucinations, extreme confusion, seizures, fever, and delirium. This kind of withdrawal is considered life-threatening as grand mal seizures are on the list of possibilities that can lead to coma or death for people who abruptly stop taking them and have been dependent on them for a long time.
Different types of detox
Due to the unique nature of each drug, different drug detoxes take different amounts of time.
Each drug detox process is dependent upon a myriad of factors ascertained from a professional assessment of the patient’s needs, drug use history, and mental and medical health. These should be assessed by a professional and detoxes should be done in detox facilities where 24-hour help is often available.
Detoxing from cocaine
During the actual detox, drugs are given to the patients to help ease the difficult withdrawal symptoms and err them from relapsing. The cocaine withdrawals are an integral part of the entire cocaine detox.
The primary goal during this time is to keep the patient away from the substance so all cocaine is removed from their system and to deter them from relapsing, which is difficult during this time as their addicted bodies are telling them to stop the pain through another hit of cocaine.
Detoxing from heroin
Chemicals in this drug fit perfectly on opioid receptors in the brain, providing a surge and multiplication of the chemicals liable for feelings of happiness and pleasure. As noted earlier, the intensity and length of the withdrawal depend on the amount of heroin commonly used and the amount of time.
Those with relatively unstable mental health are also more predisposed to become dependent on the substances they abuse. While this withdrawal from heroin is not commonly thought of as life-compromising, there is always the possibility of psychological and medicative symptoms becoming further complex and risking the patient’s life. For instance, a patient experiencing impaired respiration, as is common in severe withdrawals, may begin hyperventilating in order to get more breaths. Or a patient thrown under a wave of depression may contemplate suicide.