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How Drug and Alcohol Detoxification Work

Drug and Alcohol Detox

Before anyone struggling with drug or alcohol addiction commits to a treatment program, they have to go through a process of detoxification first. This process is crucial because you cannot begin your journey to recovery while you still have an addictive substance in your system.

The overall premise of both drug and alcohol detox programs is to manage withdrawal symptoms. As well as prepare the body, mind, and soul for the work that’s to come next. With a clean slate, you can face the root cause of addiction with a clear mind and strong body.

If you want to learn more about what the detox process involves, allow this blog to be your guide.

How Is Drug and Alcohol Detox Defined?

If you undergo any form of detox, the process centers on the body eliminating toxic substances from your blood.

During a detox program, the overarching goal is to help you ride the wave of withdrawal symptoms that come with quitting drugs or alcohol. But, it’s also important for preparing you physically, emotionally, and mentally for the rest of the recovery journey to come.

Detoxing aims to provide a safe and comfortable environment. It teaches those with addiction to manage the physical and psychological challenges of withdrawal.

What’s most important to note is that detoxing is not a singular, standalone treatment that will help a person overcome addiction. It is only the first step to recovery and coincides with either an inpatient or outpatient recovery period.

Most people battling a serious addiction experience withdrawal symptoms 6-24 hours after they stop using. Depending on the severity of an addiction, withdrawal symptoms may vary from one person to the next.

But generally, it’s best to undergo a supervised withdrawal period, and in some cases, this may require hospitalization. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the different types of detox programs that are most popular:

1. A Medical Detox

This is probably the most common form of detox for most people struggling with a serious addiction. During this time, you’re hospitalized or stay at a detox facility that offers close monitoring and supervision.

In some cases, depending on the type of addiction, medication is part of the detox program. This helps to ease the side effects of withdrawal. A medical detox offers a great amount of support during this process and is best for those with long-term addiction.

2. Drug or Alcohol Tapering

In some instances, you can undergo a slower detox process that involves the tapering of drug or alcohol use. However, medical supervision is still necessary in most cases.

The goal of this is to slowly and gradually decrease the body’s need for a particular substance, using measured steps. This process is not as popular because it’s a slower process and also has a higher risk of relapse.

There’s also the detox process of going ”cold turkey”. Although, this type of detox is never a good idea if a person aims to overcome a serious, long-term addiction. This approach centers on abruptly quitting drugs and alcohol altogether. And does not include medical supervision or dose tapering.

This is a dangerous way to detox the body as some drugs are too dangerous to stop using at such an abrupt rate. This is why you’ll never find a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center recommending this type of detox approach.

What To Expect From the Detox Process

Each person battling addiction is different. This means that no addiction is the same, therefore each detox treatment is usually specific to the type of addiction. However, in most cases the detox process follows these key stages:

  • Evaluation — you are screened for mental and physical health issues. While your drug, medical, and psychiatric history is also evaluated
  • Stabilization — this process involves medical and psychological therapy. The goal is to prevent harm, complications, and relapse
  • Preparation for your entry into a treatment program and what you can expect next

What most people really want to know is what does the withdrawal process really look and feel like? Well, this depends on the severity of an addiction and the type of substance abuse. Here’s more on the alcohol and drug withdrawal process:

Alcohol Withdrawal

The withdrawal process for those with serious cases of alcohol addiction requires a well-monitored environment. Going through it alone is never recommended due to the risk of severe health consequences, which include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium attacks

In the first 6-12 hours, you may experience mild withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, cravings, anxiety, stomach pain, and insomnia. After 12-24 hours, your body temperature and heart rate may increase, while confusion and mild hallucinations set in.

After a day or two, you could develop seizures and tremors. And after 72 hours, delirium might set in. These withdrawal symptoms and their severity differ from one person to the next. While underlying health conditions can also intensify the experience.

Drug Withdrawal

Some of the most common drugs that cause serious withdrawal symptoms and require a supervised and monitored detox include:

  • Opiates — heroin, morphine, OxyContin, and Vicodin
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Sleep medications
  • Benzodiazepines — Valium, Klonopin, Halcyon

Each type of drug addiction goes hand-in-hand with its own set of withdrawal symptoms. Again, some may be worse than others, and it also depends on the severity of addiction. Some of the most common drug withdrawal symptoms that many people experience include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Profuse sweating
  • Irritability and mood swings

In more severe cases, withdrawal symptoms include high blood pressure, a rapid heart rate, tremors, seizures, and hallucinations.

How Long Does the Detox Process Last?

So, how long can you expect to endure the process of detox and withdrawal? Again, it depends on the type of substance withdrawal, as well as how severe an addiction is.

In most cases, the detox process spans a period of 7-10 days in total. However, this duration is not the same for everyone. It also depends on your mental and physical wellbeing, and how severe your withdrawal symptoms are.

Start Your Recovery Journey With Serenity Grove

If you’re looking for a comprehensive, attentive, and comforting environment for the drug and alcohol detox process, Serenity Grove is here for you.

Not only this, but we offer residential and outpatient addiction treatment programs to set you off on the right path to recovery. Want to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one get your life back on track? Contact us today.