The straightforward answer is that it depends.

Each and every substance, be it alcohol, cocaine, benzodiazepines or opioids, stays in your body for different lengths of time.

So, the answer to how long does detox last is essentially reliant on what you’re taking as well as how dependent you’ve become on that particular drug or drink.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go through it alone, detoxing at a rehab facility is a safe way to get through the process while mitigating the withdrawal symptoms as much as possible.

What Is Detox?

A definition always helps for clarity.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) put together a Treatment Improvement Protocol in which they give a highly refined explanation of detox:

“Detoxification is a set of interventions aimed at managing acute intoxication and withdrawal. It denotes a clearing of toxins from the body of the patient who is acutely intoxicated and/or dependent on substances of abuse. Detoxification seeks to minimize the physical harm caused by the abuse of substances”.

After making the decision to go to rehab, you can consider detox the first real step of your recovery journey because it’s quite literally impossible to work on the substantial mental side of your addiction until you break the physical addiction.

Critically, it’s imperative to recognize that detox is not treatment. It’s not a replacement. It’s just the act of getting rid of the toxins before treatment begins in earnest.

How Long Does Detox Last?

Again, this is a tough one to quantify but there are some rough guides we can put in place.

In general, as noted in the Treatment Improvement Protocol, the average length of time for detox is less than 8 days.


Typically, withdrawal from prescription opioids like OxyContin or illicit ones like heroin begins within 8 to 12 hours and is finished within 3 to 5 days.


Symptoms start the first few days after ceasing to use and can last multiple weeks. Withdrawal from benzos can be fatal.


Signs of withdrawal happen within 6 to 24 hours of the last beverage and peak within 3 days normally. Alcohol is another substance whose withdrawal symptoms can prove fatal with the most severe sufferers from alcoholism possibly going through delirium tremens which has an anticipated mortality of 37% without appropriate treatment.


Withdrawal from drugs like cocaine will start within hours of the last hit and reach their apex in a few days.

Additionally, some drugs may require tapering off the doses rather than immediate cessation or the rehab itself may be medication-assisted treatment with methadone being used to treat opioid dependence, for example.

Why Should You Detox at a Rehab?

It falls back to the idea of safety first.

It’s dangerous to detox from certain drugs or alcohol on your own and as mentioned it can even be fatal. Doing detox at a rehab means you’ll be in the capable hands and watchful eye of detox and addiction specialists who’ve seen it all before and know how to handle these dangerous situations.

Moreover, it’s genuinely difficult to not succumb to the very real discomfort associated with the withdrawal symptoms you may face. If you’re on your own, the easiest remedy for the disquieting condition is to find and take more drugs or have another drink to cool the fire burning internally.

With the assistance, advice and support of a team like ours at Safe Harbor, you’ll be safely guided through the intensity of detox and withdrawal. Coming out on the other side primed and ready to jump into your personalized treatment program.

Reach out to us today to discover more about our sub-acute medical detox program and the levels of care we offer. 

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