Drug & Alcohol Detoxing: An Analysis and Timeline


What Is Drug & Alcohol Detox?

Detox is the natural process of ridding drugs or alcohol from the system. It is usually the first step toward sobriety for people who have addictions and want to get better. Since detoxing alone can be potentially dangerous, individuals are encouraged to undergo detox in a medical environment with the help of substance abuse professionals. Detoxing in a professional space can minimize the physical and mental harm that may come from quitting.

This process, otherwise known as “medically-managed withdrawal,” is designed to help patients safely manage their withdrawal symptoms after they stop using a substance. The goal of this process is to help patients reach physical and mental stability before going through further substance abuse treatment. Detox programs can not only help individuals manage their withdrawal symptoms, but they can also give patients the tools they need to beat addiction.


Side Effects of Withdrawal

When someone stops using a substance after using it heavily for an extended period of time, they are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of withdrawal occur when the body is trying to adjust to not having substances in the system.

While withdrawal symptoms may vary depending on the substance someone uses, there are some general signs and side effects to be aware of. Side effects of withdrawal may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Delirium tremens
  • Depression
  • Sleeping issues
  • Hallucinations
  • Shakiness in hands
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Heart rate changes
  • Sweating
  • Nausea & vomiting

In most cases, a person who is detoxing will start to feel withdrawal symptoms anywhere from 6 to 24 hours after their last use. Side effects are the most intense from 24 to 72 hours after using.

Because of how intense the symptoms of withdrawal are, many people avoid quitting. In fact, dealing with these side effects alone may cause someone to relapse. Therefore, it’s extremely important to enlist help from substance abuse professionals if you are going through withdrawal.


A Step-by-Step Detox Timeline

The length of a detox program will depend on the patient and their condition. When a person with a substance abuse issue arrives at a treatment center or detoxing facility, the staff will typically conduct an entrance exam to see what kind of support the patient needs. This exam will include blood work, questions about the patient’s physical and mental health, and more. Once the evaluation is complete, staff members will make sure the patient is medically stable. If they aren’t, the team will take the necessary steps to stabilize the individual. After that process occurs, treatment can begin.

In most cases, drugs and alcohol will leave the body after about one or two weeks of treatment. However, patients are encouraged to stay in their detox program until they feel prepared to go into the real world without any assistance or temptation. During the detox process, patients will be trained to cope without substances and will develop strategies to help them beat addiction.


Detoxing Risks & Warnings

No matter the substance or situation, detoxing should be administered in a medical environment. Detoxing at home can be extremely dangerous and could lead to health concerns like seizures, severe dehydration, and even coma or death. If you witness someone withdrawing from alcohol or drugs, contact emergency medical services as soon as possible.

Individuals who are dependent on alcohol or drugs should not quit cold-turkey. Quitting these substances suddenly may result in more intense and harder-to-manage withdrawal symptoms.


Professional Detox Centers Near You

While anyone with a substance abuse issue has the power to detox successfully, they should not go through the process alone. Enrolling in a detox program will help give patients the support they need to detox safely and start living a sober lifestyle. Detox programs can be in either inpatient, outpatient, or residential formats. Treatment methods at detox facilities may include one-on-one talk therapy, medication management, education, group support, and more.

To learn more about the detoxing process, contact our team of substance abuse treatment representatives for more information. Give us a call at 267.719.8528.