How Long Will My Detox Be?

How Long Will My Detox Be?

When someone decides that they need to go to a medical detox facility to help them withdraw from a drug or alcohol, they are concerned about a number of things that concern most of us going for medical treatment. In speaking with our patients it seems that the major concerns are:
  • Will I be uncomfortable?
  • How safe is it?
  • How long will it take?
  • Will I be able to complete my detox?

PURPOSE OF MEDICAL DETOX At Novus Medical Detox Center, we believe that the purpose of any medical detox is to more comfortably and safely assist someone to stop taking a drug or drugs or drinking alcohol. We also believe that our patients should be detoxed from a drug or alcohol and not leave Novus on any new drugs. We know that in six to fourteen days, it is not possible to fully remove a drug from your system. In fact, many drugs will lodge in the body’s fat tissues and will not be fully out of your system unless you do a special sauna program designed to sweat out the toxins from fatty tissues. Will you complete your detox at Novus? We can’t guarantee this because the patient determines this. However, unlike the experience of many other detox facilities, it is very rare that someone doesn’t complete their detox at Novus Medical Detox Center. We know that patients who follow our program at Novus and then obtain the appropriate after-care are able to safely stop taking the drug or alcohol they were consuming. A medical detox program does not fully handle the reasons, either mental, physiological or both, that the drugs or alcohol were taken in the first place. At Novus Medical Detox Center, we do seek to educate the person on how the substances they were taking were affecting them and work with the person to locate the appropriate care for the next step in handling the physiological and/or mental reasons for taking the drug or drinking alcohol. Sometimes this involves finding a holistic doctor or other healthcare provider, but we always do our best to help the patient locate the appropriate after-care provider. As discussed in previous newsletters, Novus Medical Detox Center has developed protocols that have allowed people on high doses of drugs or high amounts of alcohol to be more comfortable and safe from the medical risks of withdrawal. In this newsletter, we will discuss the factors that determine how long it takes to complete a medical detox program at Novus.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE? This question is easy to answer for some medical detox facilities other than Novus. The reason—they have a fixed and unchanging detox protocol for each type of drug and for alcohol. That is just the way it is. Sometimes it is too short and the person is very uncomfortable—to the point that they leave and resume drinking or taking drugs to handle the discomfort. Sometimes it is unnecessarily long. But it is almost always unchanging. This question is more difficult for Novus. Our patients are not subjected to a “standard” protocol but instead they are treated as they are—unique individuals who we assist to more comfortably and safely complete their detox based on a number of factors. The detox schedule for our patients changes frequently in response to how the patient is doing and in consideration of a number of factors. Some of these factors are:

  • Age
  • Type of drug or alcohol from which they want to detox
  • Amount of the drug or alcohol being consumed
  • Length of time the person has been taking the drug or drinking alcohol
  • Vitamin or mineral deficiencies
  • State of hydration
  • State of health
  • DNA and metabolism

FACTORS THAT AFFECT HOW LONG A NOVUS MEDICAL DETOX PROGRAM TAKES Let’s briefly address each factor that is listed above. AGE The first factor is age. A 75-year-old person may be healthier than an 18-year-old, but as a general rule, as we age our bodies tend to function less efficiently. This generally means that a medical detox program will take longer for an older person than for a younger one. However, because of all the other factors we will be discussing in this newsletter, sometimes an older person will detox more rapidly than a younger person on the same substance.

TYPE OF DRUG OR ALCOHOL FROM WHICH THEY WANT TO DETOX The second factor is the drug or alcohol from which you want to detox. Generally, the most difficult opioid from which to detox is methadone. Depending on the dose and the other factors listed above, a methadone detox normally takes from 10 to 14 days. We have had a few people finish sooner than 10 days, and some have taken longer than 14 days. In our experience, the most difficult benzodiazepine from which to detox is Xanax. Some people will complete their detox from Xanax in six to seven days, but the average time is normally more like seven to ten days. It can take this long because of the way that Xanax affects some of our patients. Unless the patient addresses the actual causes of why they were taking Xanax after they leave Novus, these withdrawal symptoms, although normally much less severe, can continue for weeks after they leave Novus and contribute to a quick relapse. It is generally easier for a person who is addicted to wine to medically detox than it is for a person who is drinking an equivalent amount of bourbon or gin, but again it depends on all the factors listed here.

AMOUNT OF THE DRUG OR ALCOHOL BEING CONSUMED For example, higher doses of methadone generally require the longest detox time, but someone taking only 20 milligrams of methadone daily will almost certainly complete their detox more rapidly than someone taking 120 milligrams of OxyContin. If someone is drinking a bottle of wine a day, they will likely be able to complete their detox more rapidly than someone who is drinking a fifth of vodka a day.

LENGTH OF TIME THE PERSON HAS BEEN TAKING THE DRUG OR DRINKING ALCOHOL Generally, the longer a person has been taking a drug or drinking alcohol to excess, the longer it will take for a person to withdraw from the drug or detox from alcohol. Over time, the body becomes more dependent on the drug or alcohol to create the effects the person is seeking. It is for this reason that it sometimes takes longer for the body’s natural production of the chemicals that the drug or alcohol was replacing to reach normal levels.

VITAMIN OR MINERAL DEFICIENCIES Many people who come to Novus are deficient in vitamins and minerals. This means that their bodies will not work as efficiently and this is why we often see such rapid improvement after our patients receive vitamin IV’s and begin taking supplements. The more deficient the patient is when they arrive, the longer it will take for their bodies to begin to function more efficiently.

STATE OF HYDRATION While most people are dehydrated to some extent, people abusing alcohol or drugs normally have an even greater degree of dehydration. Hydration is one of the most important factors for anyone going through a medical detox. If a person is dehydrated, the body’s cells work less efficiently and since they make up the vital organs, the organs operate less effectively. Because the body accepts hydration like a sponge absorbs water, the longer it takes for our patients to become hydrated properly, the longer it takes to complete their detox. Fortunately, in most cases the IV’s and our use of electrolytes speeds the process.

STATE OF HEALTH Novus can help the person who is dehydrated or who has vitamin and mineral deficiencies, but if someone has blood pressure problems or diabetes or heart problems, these will affect the length of time a person requires to complete a medical detox program. Because of the stress that too rapid a detox can cause, the person with other health problems normally takes longer to detox from the same substance as a person in better health.

DNA AND METABOLISM Perhaps the major reasons explaining the variations in time needed to detox more comfortably and safely from substances are the individual’s DNA and metabolism. All of us have differences in our DNA that explain the differences in how we look and how we react to drugs and alcohol. All of us may metabolize drugs and alcohol through the same pathways, but this doesn’t mean we metabolize the drugs and alcohol in the same way. Remember, our DNA is unique to us and the action of the enzymes that metabolize these substances is often different. For some, the enzymes will work “normally”, for others the enzymes will work more slowly or faster, and some may not even have the enzymes in the first place. For example, one person taking 60 milligrams of an opioid like OxyContin may metabolize and use all 60 milligrams of the opioid, while someone taking 100 milligrams may not metabolize the opioid fully and only receives the effect of 60 milligrams.

CONCLUSION At Novus Medical Detox Center, we routinely have people come to us who have gone to other detox facilities. They all comment on how much easier their Novus medical detox program was than the previous one or ones that they did. They appreciate the fact that Novus adjusts each person’s taper based on how they are doing and encourages our patients to complete their detox as quickly as they safely and comfortably can. A common misconception is that people continue to use alcohol or drugs to get “high”. This may have been the motivating reason when they started using, but most find that the alcohol or drugs no longer produce a “high”—they just keep away the uncomfortable and often unbearable withdrawal symptoms. Some people ask if a person withdrawing from OxyContin can be withdrawn in less than the average of 6 to 8 days. The answer is yes, the person can detox more rapidly and some of our patients have completed their detox in five days. However, for most, if they try to speed up their detox too much, they will have very uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and they may leave before they finish because the pain is too great. Once started, not finishing a medical detox almost always leads to a resumption of the drug or alcohol use because of the withdrawal symptoms. If patients proceed with their medical detox program in the manner most suitable to them, they will no longer be experiencing the painful withdrawal symptoms from the drug or alcohol and will be ready to take their next step toward freedom from the drug or alcohol. This next step could be going into a rehab program, or it could be going to other healthcare providers if the drug or alcohol use was started to control physical pain.

At Novus Medical Detox Center, we help our patients complete their detox safely and much more comfortably and most leave Novus rested, thinking more clearly and ready to go forward with the next step in their lives.

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