October 31, 2023


Coping with illicit drug or alcohol addiction is a huge problem. People often engage in the use of these substances for recreational purposes. Most of them produce euphoria, which is the desired symptom. In the consistent chase for this pleasure, these drug users eventually become addicted. This addiction fuels their continuous use of drugs. They are then predisposed to the many health risks that come with short-term and long-term use of these substances.

In the year 2017, 11.2% of people over the age of 12 said that they had engaged in the use of any illicit drug. This is about every 1 in 10 people in that age range. When alcohol is considered, the percentage increases, due to the fact that it is a legal recreational substance. 

In the same year, 51.7% of the population above 12 years of age said that they consumed alcohol. This is essentially every 1 in 2 people, and more than half of the people in that age range.

With such a large proportion of people using illicit drugs and alcohol, it is easy to see how many become dependent on these substances. They may attempt to quit, but when they do, they are forced back into it by severe withdrawal symptoms.

With the help of addiction treatment programs, drug addicts can comfortably move through the detox process. Getting them clean and back on their feet is easier when at an addiction treatment clinic. Learn how to get past drug addiction and how to detox from addictive substances.

What is drug detox treatment?

When an addict’s body has gotten so used to a drug, it makes some changes to the way it functions. Once the drug is suddenly stopped, the body is unable to function normally in the absence of it. This is what causes the unpleasant symptoms known as withdrawal symptoms. It can be very difficult for people to deal with drug detox symptoms on their own. The extent to which they are uncomfortable usually brings the addict back to using the drug, so as to resolve the drug detoxification symptoms.

Drug detox, or drug detoxification, is the process by which a patient is clinically managed through withdrawal. A drug detoxification program aims to allow the addictive substances to be eliminated from the patient’s system, deal with the symptoms, and keep them comfortable through this process.

A therapist discusses with an alcohol addict who wants to detox from alcohol.

What are the types of drugs abused?

Drugs that are frequently abused can be classified into some broad categories. This is based on their chemical composition or on their general action.

Type of DrugOpioidsStimulantsDepressants/SedativesHallucinogensLegal
  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Heroin
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Barbiturates
  • LSD (Acid)
  • Marijuana
  • Psilocybin mushrooms 
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco/Nicotine
General Action
  • These drugs are primarily for reducing pain
  • These cause hyperactivity and increase brain activity
  • These drugs are used in medical settings, but are abused for their calming effect
  • These drugs make users hallucinate
  • These are legal substances which individuals may get addicted to, or find hard to quit

What are the types of drug detoxifications?

You can divide drug detox programs into different types based on two things. If medication is used to manage withdrawal, and if the patient resides in the facility during detox.

Based on whether medication is used

  • Non-medical detox: This type of drug detoxification treatment involves stopping the drug without the use of medication. This is sometimes referred to as quitting ‘cold turkey’. The patient will deal with the full brunt of withdrawal symptoms. They will only be assisted by clinicians through psychological therapy. This form of detox can be dangerous not only for the patient, but for other people as well. This is considering the increased risk for personality changes and aggression. It is unsuccessful in most cases.
  • Medical detox: Medical drug detox is the recommended form of detox. This is much safer. It involves the use of drug detox medication to manage withdrawal symptoms that will occur during detox. The patient will be more comfortable, providing a higher chance of success for the detox process, as well as keeping them and others safe. The medication used differs depending on the drug that is abused. This includes medication like methadone for addiction treatment. 

Based on whether the patient is resident in the clinic

  • Outpatient drug detox: This refers to detox for patients who do not reside in the treatment clinic during the time that they are being managed. They visit from home for a certain number of hours each day. They then return the following day, until the end of their treatment. The main advantage to this is that it is cheaper than inpatient treatment. It is also suitable for patients who may not be able to free up such time, such as active workers. The primary disadvantage to outpatient treatment is that patients are at higher risk of relapse outside the facility.
  • Inpatient drug detox: Also known as residential detox. This involves patients living in drug detox centres for the duration of their treatment. This is more effective as it allows around-the-clock monitoring of the patient and their symptoms. It also lets for reducing the risk of relapse from exposure to the outside world.

How long does drug withdrawal take?

The length of drug withdrawal depends on the precise drug that is being abused. This is similar to drug detox times, as detox from drugs is a way to make the withdrawal period bearable for the patient. The table below shows the length of withdrawal for the listed drugs in usual cases.

Type of DrugOpioidsBenzodiazepinesStimulantsAlcohol
Time of Onset (after last dose of the substance)
  • 8 to 24 hours (short-acting opioids)
  • 12 to 48 hours (long-acting opioids)
  • 1 to 2 days (short-acting benzodiazepines)
  • 2 to 7 days (long-acting benzodiazepines)
  • Within 24 hours
  • 6 to 24 hours
  • Up to 10 days (short-acting opioids)
  • Up to 20 days (long-acting opioids)
  • Up to 4 weeks (short-acting benzodiazepines)
  • Up to 8 weeks (long-acting benzodiazepines)
  • Up to 5 days
  • Up to 10 days

Due to how different each addict is, the length of time may vary. This is why detox tends to be available in different durations. For example 7 day heroin treatment programs and 10 day heroin treatment programs.

Possible side effects of drug detoxification

The side effects that occur when detoxing from a drug tend to be the withdrawal symptoms of that drug. These can be managed by having qualified clinicians manage an addict. However, in suboptimal conditions, drug detox side effects depend on multiple factors. The drug, how long it has been abused, and the route by which it was frequently administered.

The following are some of the side effects of drug detoxification:

1. Alcohol:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)

2. Stimulants:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Increased appetite
  • Hypersomnia

3. Depressants:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Increased blood pressure (hypertension)

What is the treatment after drug detox?

After the drug detoxification process, whether treatment for alcohol addiction or any drug, a patient should return to good health. It is a great achievement to successfully complete detox. However, this is not the end of the process. Detox takes care of physical dependence. But the psychological dependence is still present.

After detox, the patient should be rehabilitated to ensure optimal reintegration into society. Rehab focuses on the psychological, social, and behavioural problems that addiction causes. This is an ongoing process, and it helps to keep the patient a stable psychological state on the path of recovery.

After completing a drug detox program, a recovering addict is listened to and consoled as he talks about his drug addiction.

If you or someone close to you is dealing with a drug addiction, they can find effective help to get them back on their feet and to their best. Treatment for cocaine addiction, marijuana addiction treatment programs, and more, are available. These are here to provide specialized help that you may need. 

You can contact a specialist to get detailed information about the drug detoxification program, its duration and results for your specific case >>>

Published on October 31, 2023
by Dr Vorobjev Clinic team

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