Withdrawal Symptoms & Timelines

Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol is a difficult, painful and even life threatening process. It is imperative that an individual with a significant substance use disorder seek proper medically monitored or medically managed detoxification services before holistic and psychological interventions can take root to establish long-term recovery experiences. This is a comprehensive overview of the withdrawal symptoms and timelines associated with common drugs of abuse.

Note: the severity and duration of detoxification is affected by several factors, including:

–       Level of dependency
–       Length of abuse
–       Substance type
–       Method of use
–       Amount(s) taken
–       Family history
–       Medical factors


Withdrawing from alcohol occurs over three distinct phases, beginning from 6 to 24 hours after an individual’s last drink.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Insomnia, anxiety, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, tremors, clouded mental functioning, mood swings, tremors & heart palpitations.

  • Stage 1 occurs between 6 and 8 hours after the last drink of alcohol is consumed.
  • This is early in the withdrawal process, and alcoholics who are not yet fully detoxing will often go get another drink to “calm their nerves”.


Early opioid withdrawal often starts within 6 to 12 hours following the last use of short-acting opioids, and around 30 hours for longer-acting drugs.

Opioid Withdrawal


Heroin addiction is well and accurately described as a condition of the mind and body. Withdrawal includes a multitude of both physiological and psychological symptoms, and is one of the most difficult phases in overcoming heroin addiction, but it can be done. It’s essential to understand what to expect to best prepare for what is commonly a life-altering experience. Withdrawal timelines may vary from person to person, depending on many factors. However, heroin withdrawal often operates along a fairly common trajectory.

Symptoms & Timeline


Withdrawing from benzodiazepines is difficult and can be life threatening. Many people experience seizures, hallucinations, anxiety, and trouble falling and staying asleep. The withdrawal timeline may last anywhere from days to weeks.

Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Cocaine & Crack Cocaine

It may take weeks for acute cocaine withdrawal to resolve. Cocaine manifests detox symptoms that can start just hours after an individual’s last use, and extend for days, weeks and even months after cessation. However, the general timeline is around a month and can be understood and approached in standard time periods, or phases:

Withdrawal Timeline

Unique Detoxification Programs

Bradford Recovery Center’s PA drug rehab centers employ a unique approach to individualized detoxification and treatment designed to address the complex needs arising out of substance withdrawal. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to separation from drugs of abuse, and patients at BRC may participate in various holistic, experiential and evidence based programs aimed at establishing lasting health and wellness. Call today for a free substance abuse assessment.