Detox Your Body from Drugs

Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

April 6, 2023

Table of Contents

Although recovery from drug addiction is an ongoing process, you will first need to detox from drugs at a professional treatment center like a drug detox facility in California.

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Drug detox typically takes from 5 to 10 days. Medical detox in a clinical setting is the safest and most comfortable approach to detoxification. Medications can reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings, streamlining the process considerably.

Detox attacks the physical component of drug dependence and addiction. Once the toxins and toxic by-products of drugs are purged from your system, you will be better placed to address the psychological aspect of substance use disorder and drug addiction.

Drug Detox 101

Detox, the abbreviate form of detoxification, expresses the process of expelling the toxins accreted by addictive substances from your body.

When applied to drug abuse or alcohol abuse, detox relates to how long your body requires to metabolize the toxins and eliminate all toxic by-products from the system.

All drug detox programs focus on the following objectives:

  1. Helping you to process unwanted toxins from your system as comfortably and safely as possible.
  2. Managing withdrawal symptoms, using MAT (medication-assisted treatment) if required.
  3. Building a foundation for ongoing drug addiction treatment, enabling a seamless transition from detox to inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment.

Drug detox usually takes place in one of the following settings:

  • Medically-assisted detox in a medical detox center or inpatient treatment facility
  • Clinically-managed detox in a social setting

Medically-assisted detox in a medical detox center or inpatient treatment facility

For most moderate and severe substance use disorders or alcohol use disorders, a medical detox is the safest, most comfortable, and most effective route to recovery.

Some people engage with a medical detox in a licensed detox center before engaging with outpatient addiction treatment post-detox. Others begin residential rehab with a medical detox before transitioning directly into ongoing inpatient treatment.

Withdrawal from alcohol, prescription medication, or illicit drugs can be uncomfortable. Cravings during detox can be so severe that many people return to substance use to stave off withdrawal symptoms. With a medical detox, you’ll have around-the-clock clinical and emotional care to mitigate the withdrawal process. Any complications can be immediately addressed.

In many cases, medications can help counter withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and other symptoms associated with drug withdrawal (nausea, insomnia, depression, anxiety). MAT is almost always used for opioid detox, opiate detox, and alcohol detox with FDA-approved medications available for the purpose.

Clinically-managed detox in a social setting

Some people with mild addictions find they can stop using drink or drugs by using a short-term strategy in a social setting.

The social setting might vary but the underlying premise is constant: stop using drugs while at the same time flushing your body of all toxins.

Home detox from drugs or alcohol is inadvisable for anyone prone to severe withdrawal symptoms – more on the potential dangers of detoxing at home below.

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How Long Does It Take to Detox From Drugs?

If you are ready to begin your recovery journey, you may be wondering: “how long does it take to detox your body from drugs?”.

Detoxing from drugs can be a difficult and physically demanding process, but it is an important step one must take in recovering from drug addiction. The length of time it takes to detox from drugs varies depending on individual needs and circumstances, including what type of drug they are addicted to, the frequency and duration of use, and the individual’s overall health.

Generally, the acute withdrawal phase will last for a few days to a week. At this time the person experiencing detox for drugs may have physical and emotional symptoms like nausea, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. However, the length of time for withdrawal can be longer for some drugs, such as opioids or benzodiazepines.

It’s important to note that detox alone isn’t a comprehensive treatment for addiction, and those in active addiction should seek ongoing support and care to maintain their recovery.

What Substances Require Drug Detox?

To detox your body from drugs, you will need to stop taking the following substances before engaging with an ongoing treatment program:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opioids
  • Alcohol
  • Cocaine
  • Crack cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Meth
  • MDMA

Just as all addiction treatment plans should be personalized, so drug detox calls for a customized approach. The substance being used and the level of dependence will impact the delivery and content of detox.

Before we highlight what to expect from a medical drug detox, how do you detox your body from drugs in broad terms?

How to Detox from Drugs

Whether you opt for a supervised detox in a clinical setting or a home drug detox, you may be wondering how to detox drugs in the body. Here are some general pointers to smoothen the process:

  • Stop using the addictive substance
  • Stay hydrated throughout drug detox
  • Exercise within your limits to flush out toxins more efficiently
  • Focus on nutrition
  • Start improving the quality and quantity of your sleep
  • Sidestep caffeine and nicotine

Stop using the addictive substance

The quicker you quit using the addictive substance, the sooner the detox process gets underway.

For those with more severe addictions, it is inadvisable and potentially dangerous to quit abruptly without medical oversight. You should at minimum consult your physician for guidance rather than suddenly discontinuing use.

Stay hydrated throughout drug detox

Alcohol has a diuretic effect, chronically dehydrating the body. Dehydration side effects range from muscle pain and headaches to whole-body fatigue.

Fortunately, if you drink small glasses of water throughout the day, you can immediately combat dehydration.

By rehydrating your body, you will also help flush out chemicals and toxins. The more water you take on board, the more potent the flushing effect.

Exercise within your limits to flush out toxins more efficiently

Exercise delivers many physical and emotional benefits.

When you exercise, this triggers the production of more neurotransmitters – chemical messengers – like dopamine, endorphins, and endocannabinoids. This means that exercise gives you both a mental and physical boost.

As you exercise, sweating and increasing your heartrate, you can hasten the departure of any lingering toxins.

Focus on nutrition

You ingested the toxins you are aiming to purge during drug detox, so now is the ideal time to start being more aware of what you put into your body.

Anyone detoxing from drugs in inpatient rehab will be provided with healthy and nutritious meals as standard. Supplementation may also help if you are unable to eat enough food during the early phase of detox.

Broadly, aim to eat as many whole foods, fruits, and vegetables as possible. Minimize the number of processed foods you consume. These contain few nutrients and are harder to digest. Cut down on unhealthy fats and sugars.

By introducing enough key vitamins, minerals, and nutrients into your system, you will give yourself the firmest platform from which to engage in ongoing recovery.

Start improving the quality and quantity of your sleep

Active addiction tends to disrupt sleeping patterns. To give yourself the strongest chance of negotiating drug detox, aim for at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night.

For those detoxing from drugs in residential rehab, medication might be prescribed short-term to counter insomnia and to help you feel more rested.

Sidestep caffeine and nicotine

Coffee and cigarettes both contain harmful toxins, and both can interfere with your sleep patterns.

Additionally, both caffeine and nicotine can serve as addiction triggers, heightening your chances of relapsing during recovery.

Why Is Home Detox From Drugs Potentially Dangerous?

Detoxing from drugs at home is dangerous and can be life threatening. The lack of professional support and unmanaged drug withdrawal symptoms can lead to cravings too powerful to resist and relapse before recovery gets any traction.

If you have severe alcohol use disorder, you are at risk of developing delirium tremens (DTs). Delirium tremens is the most serious form of alcohol withdrawal and can be fatal if untreated.

Similarly, those with moderate and severe addictions to opioids, stimulants, and benzodiazepines should think closely before attempting a home detox. Drugs withdrawal symptoms can in some cases become life-threatening.

Almost everyone with a more severe addiction to drink or drugs would strongly benefit from a medical detox.

Medical Detox: The Safest and Most Effective Way to Detox from Drugs

During medical detox, you will eliminate all the toxins that have accumulated in your body due to substance abuse.

Detox typically lasts for 5 to 10 days, although sometimes it can last for longer. SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) reports that the average duration of drug detox is eight days.

As you undergo acute drug withdrawal, you will be actively monitored and supervised. You will benefit from emotional care as well as clinical care.

Your treatment team may administer any of the following medications to streamline drug withdrawal and detox:

  • For alcohol withdrawal: Acamprosate, disulfiram, naltrexone.
  • For opioid withdrawal: Methadone, naltrexone, buprenorphine.
  • For the symptoms of anxiety: Benzodiazepines.
  • To mitigate cravings: Vivitrol.
  • To promote sleep: Ambien and other sleep aids.
  • For blood pressure: Clonidine.
  • For the treatment of seizures: Diazepam.

Learning how to detox your body from prescription drugs, alcohol, or illicit drugs can mean the difference between kickstarting your recovery and returning to active addiction.

When you are planning detox treatment, you should consider this as the first step in a lifelong recovery process. Detoxification is a physical process, whereas lasting sobriety is a predominantly psychological process. By detoxing safely and comfortably, you will increase your chances of ongoing abstinence without relapse.

Detox From Drugs at Renaissance Recovery

If you are looking for help right now, call our team at Renaissance Recovery. While our Orange County rehab program doesn’t offer detoxification at our facility, we partner with a number of treatment centers around the area to ensure that you are getting the help you need at an affordable price. If you need help getting a loved one off of drugs or just want to learn more about addiction in general, like why people get addicted in the first place, contact our team today.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.