How Long Do Drug Cravings Last During Withdrawal?

For a person contemplating entering recovery for their struggle with addiction, one of the biggest concerns revolves around experiencing physical cravings for their drug of choice. The idea of feeling the familiar,  urgent drive to indulge that craving but not having the option due to being in a residential or hospitalization program can be overwhelming. 

The First Stage of Withdrawal Is the Most Uncomfortable

Commonly referred to as ‘acute withdrawal,’ the first stage of detox is often the most difficult. The intensity of cravings in early recovery is why it is recommended to enter a formal program for detoxification rather than attempt it alone. In a detox program, the person is monitored for physical symptoms and any medical concerns related to withdrawal. When possible, medications may be offered to ease the side effects experienced during withdrawal.

During this time, symptoms that may occur include headaches, nausea, vomiting, trouble sleeping, sweating, diarrhea, and anxiety. Acute withdrawal typically lasts a few days to one week. While it can be intimidating to think of going through this stage, all narcotics must leave the body to move on to the next step.

Post-Acute-Withdrawal Syndrome

Once the acute withdrawal is over, many people experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS. When PAWS occurs, it is more about the psychological dependence on narcotics rather than the physical. A person now beginning their sober life may not be used to experiencing daily life without the haze of drugs, which can be disorienting. 

How long PAWS lasts depends on many factors, including what drug they used, how long they were addicted, and what aftercare programs they utilize. A licensed counselor can help people in this stage begin to explore life issues that may have contributed to their turning to drugs, as well as help them normalize sobriety. 12-step groups also aid in battling any lingering urges to use. 

A common reason for a person struggling with drug addiction not to enter recovery is a fear of going through detoxification. While it is true that initial withdrawal symptoms can be difficult, they are short-lived and made more comfortable when using a formal program to detox. Valiant Living offers medically-supervised detox for men and women. We provide medical care and work with most major insurance companies. Call us now to discuss options for beginning a new life of sobriety you may not have thought was possible. We offer counselors and aftercare programs to help start your sober life! (303) 952-5035.