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Withdrawal Timeline and Symptoms

A guide to the withdrawal timeline, symptoms, and treatments for addictive substances.

Article Contents

What is Drug Withdrawal?

When a drug has been consumed for a certain period, the body may become dependent on that drug to function at normal levels, much like how the body is dependent on food and water to survive. When the intake of that drug stops, the entire body, from the brain down to the cellular level, “crave” the drug.1

If drug dependence has been developed from consuming a substance over an extended time, then drug withdrawal may occur. Drug withdrawal is the set of symptoms that occur after medicinal or recreational drug use stops suddenly or is drastically decreased.

How you feel after ceasing drug use depends on the drugs you’ve been using. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, and sweating.

What is a Withdrawal Timeline?

After you stop taking drugs, your body requires time to heal. Withdrawal symptoms can last from several days to several weeks after someone quits using. With each day, however, the body adjusts and heals itself a little bit more.

The best way to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms is to lower the drug dose slowly and over time.

Symptoms of Different Drug Addictions


Common symptoms of Adderall addiction include:
Someone who is addicted to Adderall may also exhibit a behavior called “doctor shopping,” which refers to visiting more than one doctor to obtain multiple active prescriptions for Adderall.2


Common symptoms of Adderall addiction include:
Someone who is addicted to Adderall may also exhibit a behavior called “doctor shopping,” which refers to visiting more than one doctor to obtain multiple active prescriptions for Adderall.2


Symptoms of alcohol addiction may include:3


Benzodiazepine addiction is characterized by the typical symptoms of a substance use disorder:4
Klonopin is a commonly prescribed benzodiazepine class drug. Klonopin addiction, even if taking a medically prescribed, low dose, can develop in as little as 2-4 weeks.5


Symptoms of cocaine addiction may include:6


Symptoms of opioid addiction may include:7


Fentanyl a fully synthetic opioid. Like opioid addiction, symptoms of fentanyl addiction may include:8


Symptoms of Xanax addiction may include:9

Drug Withdrawal Timelines and Effects


Adderall withdrawal is not medically life-threatening and does not require pharmaceutical intervention. Withdrawal symptoms, which usually appear within 1-2 days after the last dose, are severe tiredness, sleep problems, and mental/mood changes such as depression. These symptoms may last a few days to several weeks.10


After the last drink, symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may start as soon as 4 to 12 hours and may last up to several days. Symptoms often peak within a few days.11 Mild symptoms, which can last for a few weeks, include:
More severe symptoms include:
Severe alcohol withdrawal can be fatal, so those who are at risk for severe withdrawal symptoms should not detox at home unless they work closely with a doctor to manage the symptoms.


Benzodiazepine withdrawal can induce dangerous and sometimes life-threatening effects, so detoxing with medical support is advised. The onset of effects may be hours or a few days, and symptoms can last for several weeks.12 Common effects can include:
Serious effects can include:


Although the timeline and effects of cocaine withdrawal vary between long-term users and short-term users, it is not medically life-threatening and does not require pharmaceutical intervention. The most common effect of cocaine withdrawal is a “crash,” characterized by the following symptoms:13
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms begin within hours to days of the last dose. The crash lasts for 3-4 days, and withdrawal persists for 1 to 10 weeks.


Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include:14
Some people also feel tense and edgy, sad, anxious, or get the “shakes”. The withdrawal timeline for opioids can start within 24 hours and last up to several weeks, depending on which opioid was being taken and the length of time it was taken.


Fentanyl withdrawal effects include a host of physical, emotional, and mental symptoms:15
Fentanyl withdrawal generally begins between 6-36 hours after the last dosage and lasts one to two days. It is advised to medically detox fentanyl due to the severity of the symptoms that may occur.


Acute Xanax withdrawal symptoms can start 6-12 hours after the last dose, peak around day 2, and resolve in 4-5 days. Protracted symptoms (e.g. psychiatric symptoms and drug cravings) may last for weeks to months.16

Withdrawal from Xanax, a benzodiazepine, can include the following effects:

Withdrawal from Xanax should be performed under medical supervision.

When is Drug Detox Necessary?

Detox refers to the process of treating someone who is physically dependent on a drug. Detox helps control acute withdrawal symptoms. The state of physical dependence is ended is usually referred to as detoxification.17

Drug detox is necessary when there are substances in the body that the body needs to get rid of because they produce adverse effects on one’s health or life circumstances. For example, if you cannot stop using a drug, continue using a drug despite the harm it causes, or exhibit unsafe behavior as a result of using a drug, a drug detox may be in order.

For drugs with less severe withdrawal symptoms, detox may be done at home and unsupervised by a medical professional. For substances with severe and dangerous withdrawal symptoms, however, detox should be overseen by a medical professional or done in an addiction treatment facility. Detox can also be medically assisted if symptoms are severe.

What to Expect from Drug Withdrawal

Medications Used in Drug Detox

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines (such as Xanax and Klonopin) and alcohol is associated with life-threatening complications, so certain medications are used in detoxing from these drugs. For alcohol detox, benzodiazepines are commonly administered to prevent seizures, then tapered off. For benzodiazepine detox, a long-acting benzodiazepine (e.g. diazepam, chlordiazepoxide) may be substituted for the benzodiazepine that was being used, then tapered off over time. Other medications are used to treat opioid detox, including Lofexidine, Methadone, and Buprenorphine.18

Coping with Drug Withdrawal

What To Do:

What Not To Do:

It is important to remember that the body adjusts to the absence of opioids quickly. If you take the same dose of opioids as you did before you stopped, you could be at a higher risk of overdose.

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