Drug Detox Treatment: Everything you need to know

Drug Detox Treatment: what to expect, withdrawal symptoms and treatments 

There are very few things as daunting to someone living with drug addiction than the thought of giving up. They may be intimidated by the prospect of entering rehab, and never using again. However, if you are ready to take that step and proceed with drug detox, it could change your life.

If you are resolved to removing drugs from your everyday existence, then it begins with a medical detox. The primary salvo of a long-term rehabilitation treatment programme designed to help you eradicate drugs from your life.

A medical detox can be carried out by a General Practitioner, a practising mental health worker, part of a community detox and sometimes even at home. However, in most cases, a medical drug detox is performed at a registered residential drug rehab clinic.

In the course of a drug detox, medical experts will have you under constant supervision as you stop taking addictive substances and progressively weaned off drugs, as the toxins are cleansed from your body.


You may be prescribed a substance medication which will eventually decrease over a period. Its effects will continue until all traces of the drug have vanished from your system and you no longer show symptoms of withdrawal. They can be quite disagreeable and painful sometimes and, in certain instances, may even be hazardous to your health.

But, medical professionals at the rehab clinic can administer the appropriate medication to help you deal with your withdrawal symptoms until they dissipate, and the drug has been removed from your body.

It is a fact certain drug detox medication may come with side effects, such as loss of appetite or drowsiness, but they are almost incomparable to going through withdrawal. There is no question taking detox medication reduces the effects of stopping taking drugs.

However, it is believed, if you proceed under medical supervision, with the aid of prescribed medication, you have a greater chance of a successful drug detox.

Private drug rehab clinics frequently talk about detox as the first step in overcoming addiction. In fact, you can run a quick internet search on drug detox and find tonnes of information about it. But rather than just read post after post, a better course of action might be to get in touch with experts capable of answering your drug detox treatment questions.


The more you know about drug detox, the better equipped you will be to make an informed decision for yourself or a loved one. Just remember that detox is but one step in overcoming drug addiction. If it is not followed by additional treatments, it may end up being of very little value.

What Is Drug Detox?

In strict medical terms, drug detox involves three things: intervention, withdrawal, and treatment. In more simple terms, detox is the process of helping a drug addict’s body naturally cleanse itself of the drugs being used. The word ‘detox’ is actually short for ‘detoxification’.

The intervention aspect of drug detox involves professionals who get involved in the addict’s immediate circumstances. They intervene between the addict and his or her drug of choice. They include doctors, nurses, and certified counsellors.

Intervention leads to withdrawal, and this part of the intervention is the process of keeping a patient stable and medically safe while his/her body cleanses itself. It is offered in conjunction with medical treatments designed to protect against the potential dangers of withdrawal.

How Does Drug Detox Work?

There are different methods of facilitating drug detox. The exact method chosen by a rehab facility depends on the person being treated, the drugs he or she is using, the length of the patient’s addiction, and a range of other factors. All detox methods are based on the central principle of weaning the addict off drugs.

Like a breast-fed baby is gradually weaned from his mother, the drug addict must be weaned from whatever drugs hold him/her hostage. Successful weaning eventually breaks the addict’s physical dependence on drugs. How? By forcing his/her body to return to normal function without the presence of addictive drugs.

Imagine a heroin addict. He is physically dependent on heroin because his body has become used to always having a certain amount of heroin in the system. Removing heroin from the system forces the body to go back to what it was doing before heroin was introduced. Once that happens, physical addiction is broken.

Please note that detox, while very effective in breaking physical addiction, does very little for mental and emotional addiction. This is why private drug rehab centres urge patients to follow detox with a comprehensive treatment programme that addresses the mental and emotional aspects of addiction.

What Are the Types and Treatments of Drug Detox?

Private and public drug rehab providers differ in the details of their detox processes. Differences are mostly attributed to how doctors and nurses approach the detox question. Details notwithstanding, detox programmes can be broken down into four primary categories:

1. Cold Turkey

Cold turkey detox involves immediately stopping all drug use upon being admitted to a rehab centre. Patients are kept as comfortable as possible as they go through withdrawal. Doctors and nurses are on hand to monitor any possible complications and, if necessary, respond accordingly.

Although cold turkey was once the most common form of drug detox, it is rarely used these days. Medical science has determined that a more gradual detox is both safer and more manageable.

2. Medically Assisted Detox

The second category of detox is medically assisted detox. Under this type of scenario, doctors will prescribe medications to be administered for the duration of the withdrawal process. Medications are intended to do two things: slowly wean the addict from addictive substances and partially alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Just as with cold turkey detox, medically assisted detox relies on doctors and nurses constantly monitoring a patient’s condition for complications.

3. Rapid Detox

Rapid detox is a relatively new form of detox aimed primarily at opioid addiction. It is a procedure that involves placing the addict under sedation and then completely cutting off opioids. You could say that rapid detox is a hybrid of both the cold turkey and medically assisted models.

Please note that rapid detox is highly controversial. It is considered more dangerous than the other two models, even when under the supervision of an experienced physician.

4. Outpatient Detox

Outpatient detox is medically assisted detox that does not involve a residential stay at a private clinic. Most outpatient programmes are administered by the NHS. In an outpatient environment, addicts are given prescription drugs and monitored regularly by registered nurses. They go to local clinics to receive their prescriptions and counselling.

What Are Common Detox Withdrawal Symptoms?

Detox almost always creates withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, there is no universal set of withdrawal symptoms that applies to every situation. This is because different drugs have different effects on the human body. Just to give you an idea, we have compiled the most common withdrawal symptoms for three different drugs.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Insomnia and yawning
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Dilated pupils.

Find out more about heroin addiction here.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Lack of energy and fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Mood changes
  • Depression and dysphoria
  • Lack of concentration
  • Drug cravings
  • Paranoia.

Find out more about cocaine addiction here.

Amphetamine Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Involuntary body movements
  • Aches and pains
  • Vivid and sometimes unpleasant dreams
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Impaired reaction to stimuli
  • Depression.

Some drugs – especially alcohol – include the potential of delirium tremens as a withdrawal symptom. Delirium tremens is a serious medical condition requiring emergency treatment. Though rare, delirium tremens is something detox professionals have to consider when treating patients.

We invite you to contact us to learn more about drug detox. If you or a loved one needs help overcoming addiction, detox is the first step. We recommend medically supervised detox in a private clinic to ensure the patient’s safety and well-being.


Detox VS Rehab: what’s the main difference?

Drug rehab is a commonly-used term that refers to the multiple different levels of addiction treatments, find out more about drug rehab treatment here.

and Detox is the process of helping a drug addict’s body naturally cleanse itself of the drugs being used. 

drug detox involves three things: intervention, withdrawal, and treatment.

Watch this video to find out more about how detox rehab works

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