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By: Renaissance Recovery

Medically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated: 7/1/2021

Authored By: Joe Gilmore

Table of Contents

When someone has a drug addiction, that means that they might have to go through a detox program. That leads many friends and family members to wonder what drug detox is in the first place. That is a popular question among those who have concerns about their loved one’s addiction. The detoxification from harmful substances is their first step in the recovery process.

Understanding What Drug Detox Is

When those who are suffering from drug addiction have all traces of substances removed from their body, they are experiencing detoxification. The goal behind this process is not only removing substances from their body but also ensuring they are physically stable before starting addiction treatment programs and therapy.

Those who have a drug addiction find that their bodies become acclimated to having these substances in their systems. During detox, these substances gradually reduce and are eventually removed. In doing so, the patient’s brain must adjust the sudden drops in these substances. During that adjustment process, it is not uncommon for patients to experience withdrawal symptoms.

The Purpose of Drug Detox

Understanding drug detox also involves learning more about its purpose. When someone is going through detox, its purpose is to help patients feel minimal effects from the withdrawal symptoms. That way, the process is as comfortable and safe as possible. Detox is most effective when combined with medication-assisted treatment and has support from trained specialists.

Drug detox typically occurs within a specialist treatment center or facility. Patients are under the direct care of healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses. It is rarely successful when patients try detoxing without assistance, and it often results in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

First Stages of Drug Detox

Even though withdrawal is not always life-threatening, it is normally very uncomfortable. They could result in the patient not wanting to go through the process. That is why it is beneficial for patients to receive medical and psychiatric care during drug detox. Within the first few hours of the process, several issues could arise for patients. Some examples include:

  • Injuries: There are some instances where physical injuries or assaults occurred when the patient was under the influence. Therefore, all physical trauma must be addressed before treatment begins.
  • Medical illness: It is not uncommon for patients who are detoxing off of drugs to experience severe pain, so caregivers must be aware of their medical history and if they use substances to help treat pain.
  • Psychosis: Some drugs, like cocaine, can cause users to feel paranoid and experience a full-blown psychotic episode. They might behave erratically or be unpredictable, so they need stabilization before treatment begins.
  • Violence: Violent behaviors could increase when users abuse particular substances, like bath salts, for example. If a patient becomes physically aggressive, they might need sedation.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Those who are going through detox must know what withdrawal symptoms to expect when learning more about what drug detox is. Some examples of symptoms include the following:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Anxiety, confusion, and paranoia
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Fever or chills
  • Headaches, bone, and muscle pain
  • Increased blood pressure or heart rate
  • Sweating, shaking, and shivering

How Long Drug Detox Typically Lasts

Typically, drug detox takes between seven and 10 days. However, several factors can affect how long it takes for different people. For example, the length of drug detox could depend on how much of a substance the patient used. Another factor could also include the severity of the patient’s withdrawal symptoms.

Some patients might also experience challenges or struggles with their mental or physical functioning. While physical withdrawal symptoms subside within a couple of weeks, psychological symptoms and cravings can last months.

Finding Help for Detox

If you have questions about detox, now is the time to reach out for support. You might have a friend or loved one who is abusing a substance and need this treatment. Contact Renaissance Recovery by calling [Direct] to learn more about drug detox and available treatment options.866.330.9449

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Pat C

“I owe my life and my happiness to these people. October 8th, 2019 marked two years of sobriety for me, and prior to finding Renaissance I hadn’t had 24 hours sober in nearly 20 years.”

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Courtney S

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Diana Vo, LMFT

Diana is an addiction expert and licensed marriage and family therapist who has been in the field of mental health for over 10 years.

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country