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Drug and Alcohol Detox

Drug and alcohol detox
What is detox
Detox methods

Drug and Alcohol Detox Programs

As a society, we face one of the most significant concerns: substance abuse. To manage stress, trauma, physical pain, or symptoms of common diseases like depression, many individuals are turning to hard drugs, alcohol, and prescription medications


Sadly, for the first time in the US, drug overdose fatalities during 12 months exceeded 100,000 in 2021, according to government estimates, with opioid-related instances driving the spike. Unfortunately, a tremendous stigma is attached to addiction, regardless of whether someone is attempting to stop or is still taking a drug. People do not take the drug epidemic as seriously as diseases like cancer and high blood pressure.


It's not all hopeless, however. Detox is a tried-and-true method that may be a crucial first step on the road to recovery.

What Is Alcohol and Drug Detox?

Detoxification (detox) removes drugs from the body and deals with associated withdrawal symptoms.


Withdrawal syndrome is a collection of physical and psychological symptoms due to the body's attempt to rid itself of alcohol or drugs. The symptoms might be mild enough to be mistaken for a common cold, or they can be severe enough to be fatal. The uncertainty of the situation necessitates medical assistance. However, these symptoms and medical treatment strategies will vary based on factors such as:


  • The substance or substances that have been consumed

  • The length of time and the intensity of drug usage

  • If there is a family history of addictive behaviors

  • The presence or lack of concerns about one's general well-being

  • The signs of the presence of other psychiatric conditions (dual diagnosis)

Detoxification Methods

The process of detoxification may be done in several ways. You'll get detailed guidelines from a reputable rehab facility to help make the road to recovery not so overwhelming. In addition, you'll get advice on the most satisfactory detoxification method available. Among the varieties are the following:

Medical Detox

Detoxifying at a detox (medical or rehab) facility ensures that your medical needs are met throughout the detoxification and withdrawal process. This is the most popular and well-accepted method for detoxing from alcohol or drugs. Medical detoxification offers you an opportunity to detox under the guidance and assistance of a medical professional. This way, you won't have to cope with withdrawal symptoms and cravings on your own.


Depending on the drug you were abusing, your treatment can involve different medicines to ease the withdrawal symptoms, including:



It's possible to treat specific withdrawal symptoms with additional drugs. Anxiety-relieving pharmaceuticals, anticonvulsants, antipsychotic drugs, and other sleep aids may also come in handy.

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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Drug Tapering

Tapering is where the use of drugs or alcohol is reduced slowly over time. In most cases, this is done under the care of a physician. By progressively decreasing the amount of alcohol or drugs you consume, your body gradually adapts to sobriety. But drug-tapping methods may take a long time to achieve their desired results, and they carry high risks of relapse.

Detoxing at Home

The detox procedure can sometimes take place in the comfort of your own home. While home detox is feasible, it is best suited for mild addictions. It can be fatal to do it if your habit is chronic. Besides, the risks of relapse are high.

Cold Turkey

It is where you stop drinking or using drugs suddenly. Although this strategy may be appealing to many, it has several drawbacks. Some drugs, after all, are too hazardous to suddenly cease using, while others cause unpleasant withdrawal effects that must be dealt with well. Another worth mentioning is that abruptly ending drugs might result in crisis and relapse.

It's also possible for certain people to undergo a rapid detoxification process. Anyone who signs up for this kind of detox essentially agrees to undergo sedation sessions during their treatment. After that, individuals get drugs that neutralize and render inert active substances in the body.

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Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms associated with drug or alcohol detox may range from minor to life-threatening. The length and intensity of your substance abuse disorder (SUD) may influence the withdrawal symptoms you encounter. For example, seizures and delirium tremens (DTs) are more common among those who have suffered from years of excessive drinking.


Depending on the substance you were using, withdrawal symptoms might differ. The following signs and symptoms often accompany withdrawal:


  • Appetite changes

  • Anxiety or depression

  • Congestion D

  • Digestion issues

  • Irritability

  • Aches and pains

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Restlessness

  • Sore throat and stuffy nose

  • Shakiness

  • A problem with sleep

  • Sweating

  • Lightheadedness


Hallucinations, convulsions, and delirium may also be present in rare cases. Your symptoms may be affected by the substance you were taking, how long you took it, and your dosage amount.


It is possible that although the adverse physical reactions might persist for only days or even just a few weeks, the psychological consequences can last for months or even years.


Because of the seriousness of specific withdrawal symptoms, drug and alcohol detoxification should be overseen by a doctor. Withdrawal symptoms might soon intensify if you grapple with respiratory or cardiovascular conditions or other medical issues. Keep an eye on the numbers of your blood pressure and heart rate. It can allow your doctor to make sure things don't become worse. You may also tell them about the symptoms you're having and whether or not you're feeling any discomfort. Medical professionals may use this information to determine the best treatment for you.


Management of Withdrawals

Managemet of withdrawal

The primary goal of detoxification programs is to make the withdrawal process as painless as possible. The underlying mental health, behavioral, and societal factors that lead to addiction are not often addressed during detox. As a first step in the recovery process, detoxification should be supplemented with other types of therapy.


Continuing therapy after detox can thus be critical to long-term recovery from alcohol or drug addiction. At the end of the detox process, you will discuss the best ways to sustain your recovery with your doctor.


Here, you may learn coping skills and relapse prevention tactics, enhance your communication and social skills, and get pharmaceutical therapy, if necessary, in follow-up treatment sessions.


A range of care options is available based on your specific requirements and the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. Detoxification and rehabilitation therapies are provided in a variety of settings, including:

Outpatient Detox Program

You may remain at home, work, and do other typical daily activities while detoxing, usually for mild addictions. You need to attend therapy during the day at an outpatient detox facility, and you can spend your nights at home. In most cases, less than nine weekly hours of treatment are required.

An Intensive Outpatient Detox Program

You can live in the comfort of your home and continue to work while detoxing; services for complex care needs such as co-occurring (dual diagnosis) mental health conditions are available. IOP is a complete form of an outpatient treatment program.

A Partial Hospitalization Detox Program

Multidimensional physical and mental instabilities may be treated while a patient is still living at home, working, or schooling. In most cases, it requires no less than 20 weekly hours of treatment sessions.


Residential Detox

A patient is housed in the treatment center and receives 24-hour clinical, mental, and drug abuse therapy services. This usually requires at least five hours of clinical treatment every week.

Medically-Managed Residential Care

To deal with severe or unstable conditions, a patient gets round-the-clock nursing care and daily medical attention under this program. This level of care includes medical monitoring 24/7 and up to 16 hours a week of psychological assistance.


Treatment plans may need to be revised and altered as you recover to fit your evolving requirements.

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Bottom line

The Bottom Line

Even though the drug epidemic continues to wreak havoc on our society, we must not give up on hope. There are a large number of rehabilitation clinics working tirelessly to address the issue. One way how rehabs deal with the problem of drug and alcohol addiction is by providing detoxification services. Here, addictive chemicals are eliminated from your system, often followed by talk therapy to help you learn how not to relapse in the future.

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