Everything You Need To Know About Detoxification Programs 


Drug addiction or substance abuse disorder, is a chronic disease that affects an individual’s brain structure and functioning as well as overall behaviour. It creates a craving for the substance, which leads to loss of control over its use and abuse, and ultimately leads to continued intake and drug misuse despite the negative consequences.


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The process of battling and overcoming addiction may be hard, but hundreds of thousands of people are beginning their journey to improve their lives and those of their loved ones. It includes acknowledging the problem and making a conscious effort to welcome a lifestyle change.

One of the first steps towards embarking on this journey involves addressing the physical manifestations of drug and substance abuse problems. This requires a complete detoxification in which all sorts of toxic substances are flushed out of the body. A medical detox procedure is highly individualized and carried out by health care professionals, public health professionals and addiction experts. Additionally, a medical detox falls under the official guidelines and treatment protocols of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

A detoxification should be followed by seeking help in drug abuse treatment programs that provide intensive clinical and support services by professionally trained staff to help with the psychological and behavioural aspects of addiction treatment. Such programs and centers make use of evidence based therapies coupled with alternative medicine, such as yoga and meditation, to individually treat every person in relation with their medical history.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction


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The symptoms of drug addiction vary depending on the kind of drug(s) consumed. These signs can present themselves as physical symptoms or behavioral changes. They generally tend to include the following:

  • Having red eyes
  • Having a dry mouth
  • An increase in blood pressure or heart rate
  • A decline in overall health due to damage or disease from substance abuse
  • Decreased concentration, attention, and overall cognition
  • Having slurred speech or shaking
  • Practicing poor hygiene
  • Experiencing fluctuations in weight due to change in appetite
  • Failure to fulfil responsibilities at home or work leading to poor performance
  • Neglecting to pay attention to personal appearance

Additionally, some psychoactive drugs may lead to hallucinations, euphoria, paranoia, extreme confusion and severe problems concerning thinking properly and making sound decisions. This may lead to aggressive behaviour and violent action by the drug user.

With continued use of drugs, users tend to develop something called tolerance. Technically speaking, tolerance is a diminished response to a drug when it is consumed repeatedly. This condition leads to an increase in the dosage or amount of the substance, resulting in further deterioration of the physical and mental health of an individual.

Often times, the physical dependence of a drug leads to an urge to obtain the particular drug without regard for the consequences. In some cases, this can create financial problems.


Withdrawal is a condition that occurs when an individual abruptly stops taking a drug that they are addicted to. It results in certain symptoms which vary from individual to individual and from drug to drug.

Some common withdrawal symptoms are as follows:

  • Cravings
  • Fluctuations in mood and irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Irregular heart rate and heart palpitations
  • Headaches
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Muscle pain and stiffness in the body
  • Difficulty concentrating

Depending on the drug, withdrawal symptoms may last between 5 days to several weeks. Below is a general guide for withdrawal timelines:

Alcohol – Withdrawal starts within 8 hours, and symptoms last from 3 days to a few weeks.

Cocaine – Withdrawal starts within a few hours, and symptoms last for a week to sometimes as long as 10 weeks.

Heroin – Withdrawal starts within 12 hours, and symptoms last for a week to a month.

Methamphetamine – Withdrawal starts within 8 to 10 hours, and symptoms last from 3 weeks to a couple of years.

Opiates – Withdrawal starts within 8 to 12 hours, and symptoms last from 5 to 10 days.

Benzodiazepines – Withdrawal starts within 1 to 4 days, and symptoms may last anywhere from a month to several years.

Detox Programs

During detoxification, the body goes through withdrawal as described above. This is a particularly difficult period for any individual and this is why certified medical detoxification programs are structured with medical intervention and oversight to help addicts cope during withdrawal. Detox centers provide a safe environment to help manage these withdrawal symptoms.

First off, there are certain factors that may possibly affect detox programs. These include multiple drug use, the level of dependence on the drug, any pre-existing medical or mental health condition, genetic factors, and any environmental factors. Depending on these various aspects, medical detox programs are tailored for each individual.

Essentially, detoxification is a medical management technique that has three main components:

  • Evaluation – A physical examination is carried out and blood samples are taken to determine the various substances and their concentration. A complete assessment of a patient’s medical and psychological condition is also conducted. This lays down the foundation to develop a comprehensive detox plan.
  • Stabilization – This involves helping the patient through withdrawal with the help of medication to achieve a medically stable and substance-free state.
  • Preparation – This is the stage where practitioners prepare the individual to enter into substance abuse treatment programs. They explain the importance of seeking long-term treatment to help with complete recovery.

Detox programs can take place in one of two ways:

Outpatient detox programs

For those suffering from mild to moderate levels of withdrawal, outpatient detox programs are ideal. They offer a complete psychosocial and biomedical evaluation. Patients usually visit the treatment centre for several hours a day.

Inpatient detox programs

These involve 24 hour supervision, observation and support for the individual. With adherence to strict medical protocol, licensed and trained clinicians respond to those going through severe withdrawal through thorough medical monitoring.

There are certain considerations to be made when deciding between outpatient or inpatient treatments. These include the level of support from family and friends, mental health condition, other medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes or pregnancy, and ability to follow through with treatment and procedure.

If someone does not have adequate support from loved ones, suffers from mental health conditions, has other medical conditions, and/or fails to follow treatment, an inpatient detox program would be ideal for them.

Usually, medical detox programs can last anywhere between 5 to 10 days. Always remember to check with your insurance provider to determine if your insurance plan covers detoxification services.

Wrapping Up

It is important to remember that detoxification is the first step towards treating addiction. It does not constitute a complete substance abuse treatment or cure. Always seek a comprehensive continuing care program after the detox period.

Lastly, you should always encourage those around you who wish to seek help and refrain from judging them. Establish honest communication and offer continued support to help them get through this difficult time in their lives.

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Everything You Need To Know About Detoxification Programs 
Drug addiction or substance abuse disorder, is a chronic disease that affects an individual's brain structure and functioning as well as overall behaviour.

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