To Get to There You Have to Go Through Here First

Let’s be clear: when in recovery, half-life doesn’t mean you’re half-dead, or your half-a-person, or you only have a half-life to live.

In detox half-life is a metric that reveals two vital issues of drug recovery. Those are 1) Why a certain drug is so hard to recover from and 2) How long might it take to recover from that drug.

Although half-life measurements can vary from one person to the next, it gives the addicted person an idea of what they’re up against as they detox.

The half-life is the amount of time necessary for the concentration of a drug in the bloodstream of the body to be reduced by one-half. The time it will take for a drug to reach a steady state, or full effectiveness in the system is also based on the drug’s half-life.

Half-lives also helps an addicted person’s caregiver understand what symptoms that person will undertake during detox, and what type of medication they will need while going through detox.

Think of half-life as a blueprint for a person’s successful recovery based upon the drug of their choice, and how long they’ve been using the drug.

Half-life is also important for a caregiver when prescribing medicines to patients who aren’t addicted, but seek relief for a chronic ailment. Additionally, half-life can also reveal how often that patient should take dosages of their prescribed medication.


Some drugs have longer half-lives than others. This depends upon what the drug’s intent is inside the human body, while in other cases, it could depend upon the drug’s strength as well as how is administered, i.e. orally, topically or even intravenously.

For example, the class of opioids that make up prescription painkillers could seem very similar simply because they’re opioids.

However, there are large differences between these drugs even if they do derive from related roots, which in this case is the opium or poppy plant.

Consider these half-life results from some of the leading prescription painkillers:

As you can see, even as these drugs reside in the same opioid class, their half-life readings greatly vary.

While this kind of variability isn’t unique to the opioid class of drugs. Other drug classes also have a great deal of variation.

Take benzodiazepines, for example. Benzos can come in a variety of durations and strengths as can their half-lives. In fact, according to some sources, benzos are so varied, they can be split into different classes based on half-life alone.

  • Short half-life: Xanax, Ativan, Halcion
  • Long half-life: Librium, Valium and Dalmane


If you’re a chronic pain sufferer or have other long-standing ailments, half-lives are crucial when a patient’s body needs to be clear of a certain drug in order to take the next step in treatment.

Prescriptions which have short half-lives, simply means the body eliminates them quickly. And while this is good for the user, particularly in light of the highly addictive nature of opioids and other narcotics, it should be noted that a minimum level of the prescribed drug needs to be inside someone’s system for the medicine to be effective.

Of course, drugs with shorter half-lives, such as aspirin or Tylenol have to be given in more frequent doses.


Once a caregiver understands both the nature of your chronic ailments as well as the strength of a half-life of the medication available for your condition, he or she will prescribe the correct dosage and frequency with which that dosage should be taken.

This type of attention brought to your ailment and your medication will help prevent your treatment from flying off course, and worse yet, potentially addicting you to your medication.

Of course, if you do become addicted, there is at the very least a viable history of the medication(s) you are taking, as well as the half-lives of those medications.

Needless to say, this can definitely help your recovery expert assess a custom-tailored program for you and your addiction, partially based on the half-life/lives of the drugs to which you are addicted.

Without a doubt, if your recovery expert has this half-life information regarding the drug or drugs of your choice can give you a big head start toward a successful recovery.

If you or a loved one have an addiction to alcohol, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.

A Journey in Detox – Half Life Explained