Drug Detox and Withdrawal


Drug addiction affects millions worldwide. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 19.7 million adults suffered from drug addiction and substance use disorder in 2017. Drug addiction and substance use disorder is characterized by the inability to stop using substances despite social, familial, emotional, financial, and physical consequences. Symptoms of substance abuse and withdrawal symptoms are typically the first first sign that a substance use disorder is present. 

When a user is physically dependent on drugs and they suddenly quit using, withdrawal symptoms can follow closely behind. Oftentimes these symptoms are uncomfortable and can even be dangerous. At Marina Harbor Detox in San Francisco, our services include a medically-supervised detox for those undergoing withdrawal to ensure the safety and comfort through this process.

Drug Addiction Symptoms and Withdrawal Timelines

Drugs and alcohol flood the brain with dopamine and serotonin. These artificial chemicals regulate mood, emotion, and decision making skills. When the brain is flooded with these chemicals, an euphoric feeling occurs and the brain’s reward system goes out of control. With the more use of these chemicals, the brain produces lower dopamine levels, and ultimately becomes dependent on feeling this way. Overtime, without these substances, a person can become sick and feel physical symptoms. This is drug addiction withdrawal. 

Drug addiction withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person depending on the length of use, duration of use, and frequency. Each drug also has a slightly different effect. There are some that cause physical withdrawal symptoms, and others that cause emotional effects. However, the most important thing to note is that withdrawal is the first step in the process of recovery and must happen before any other treatment occurs. 

The following are different type of drug addiction withdrawal symptoms and their withdrawal timelines:

Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

Amphetamine withdrawal usually occurs a few hours after last use and peaks between one and two days after the last use. Typically, users experience a “crash,” and then a longer period of withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Acute onset symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased sleepiness
  • Severe cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms typically start between one and four days after the last use. During the first few days, those who take Benzodiazepines for anxiety may experience a “rebound” effect, meaning their condition will get worse when they cease administration of the drug. Symptoms can peak around two weeks, however can last for months. Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and life-threatening and serious symptoms such as seizures, hallucinations and hallucinations can occur in heavy uses. Other benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Increased depression
  • Tremors
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Hypertension
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

Opioid withdrawal symptoms including heroin and fentanyl occur just hours of cessation and peak between two and four days after the last use. However, post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last for up to weeks or months. Opioid withdrawal can mimic flu-like symptoms and include the following:

  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Cold sweats
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Upset stomach
  • Intense cravings

How Is Drug Withdrawal Treated?

For those going through withdrawal, entering a drug detox facility is recommended and the safest option. During a medically-supervised detox, medical professionals are available around the clock to ensure the safety of each individual. Medication is often administered to help lessen withdrawal symptoms. For opioid withdrawal, medications such as naloxone, suboxone, and buprenorphine are given to reduce symptoms and to block opioid receptors, which can also help prevent relapse by making it chemically impossible to experience a high from opioids. Other medications can include anti-nausea medications and sleep aids can be prescribed to help with withdrawal symptoms of other drugs. 

During a medical detox, therapists and counselors also provide individual and group therapy to help with the emotional and psychological toll of withdrawal and process emotional cravings. During this time, clients can begin to learn new coping skills, identify triggers, and plan for post-detox care by looking at residential or intensive outpatient treatment centers. 

Drug Detox in San Francisco

No matter what type of drug you may be struggling with, it’s important to know that help is available. At Marina Harbor Detox in Marin County, our team of medical professionals understand what it takes to recover from addiction. In a luxury and intimate setting, our detox facility provides individualized care and a small patient to staff ratio. In a structured and supportive environment we ensure a safe and smooth detox experience is provided to lessen the risk of relapse and create optimal opportunities for recovery.