What Is Drug Detox?

Drug addiction is a reality that countless people face daily. This very unfortunate, extremely complex condition is one that affects people from all demographics and can destroy a person’s life if left untreated. Seeking out help for a drug addiction can be terrifying. Facing an addiction is one of the most difficult things a person will experience in their lifetime. Getting help means admitting to the problem, which is something most people have a hard time doing. It also means something else. A person getting help for their addiction is taking the steps necessary to regain their freedom. The first step in overcoming addiction for good is going through a drug detox.

Before a person can begin to address the mental and emotional aspects of their addiction, they must let the drugs run course through their body. The physical and psychological withdrawal from addiction can be terrible. From physical withdrawal symptoms that can make a person extremely sick, to psychological withdrawals that can make a person feel like they’re going crazy, coming off drugs is never an easy task. This is why so many people stay slave to addiction even when they know it is ruining their life.

A professional drug detox is the safest way to go about overcoming a drug addiction. It will help a person through the difficult process, giving them what they need to take the rest of the steps necessary to sustain their newfound sobriety. As addiction is such a complex condition, it requires many different facets of treatment. Detox is one of these facets and will help propel an addict towards a future that is not dominated by drug addiction.

Is Drug Detox the First Stage of Recovery?

Drug addiction is a complex condition that requires a multi-faceted approach to healing. A comprehensive addiction treatment plan that will help a person overcome their addiction for good, includes a variety of approaches that have shown to be helpful. Comprehensive treatment will include detox, therapy, various treatments, and aftercare. Detox is the first step in the recovery process.

The first few days after quitting drugs can be extremely difficult for the recovering addict. Drug detox is designed to help people through this initial period of drug withdrawal. When a person goes through detox as part of a comprehensive drug treatment programme, there is medical staff there to provide the support they need.

What Is a Detox Centre?

When a person detoxes from drugs, they can choose to do so at an inpatient or outpatient centre. Both are beneficial in helping a person overcome their addiction and offer a person a safe and professional environment to go through the physical withdrawal of their addiction.

Inpatient Drug Detox Options

Inpatient drug detox requires that a person stay at the centre until their treatment is completed. Patients are under supervision 24 hours a day, every day as long as they are at the treatment centre. One benefit of inpatient detox is the individualised care a person receives when they are there. If a person needs something, there are always professionals there to assist them.

Another benefit of receiving inpatient detox is that it takes an addict out of the environment they’re accustomed to using drugs in. Detox is a critical period of addiction recovery and the urge to use can be overwhelming. When a person detoxes at an inpatient centre, they are removed from the people, places, and circumstances that can trigger relapse.

Because of the professional, around the clock care a person receives at an inpatient detox centre, the easier it can be to withdrawal. Average length of stay at a drug detox centre is 5-14 days depending upon the nature of a person’s addiction. Once they complete treatment, they will either go home or continue on with further treatment

Inpatient drug detox as part of a comprehensive inpatient programme will allow a seamless transition from detox to the other aspects of a person’s treatment. It is important to remember that drug detox is not recommended for a stand-alone treatment for addiction. It is simply the first step on a person’s journey towards recovery.

image showing a man relaxing during his Drug Detox
Why choose eata.org.uk?

If someone you care about is exhibiting signs of addiction – whether it’s excessive marijuana use, long-term dependency on pharmaceuticals, binge drinking of alcohol or even financially damaging levels of gambling – contact us for immediate rehabilitation help.

What Happens during the Inpatient Treatment?

When a person arrives at the detox centre they will go through the intake process. This is an interview done by detox centre staff members to outline the best course for a person’s treatment. Patients will be given a therapist they will work with throughout their detox programme, as well as meet other staff member that will assist on their recovery journey. During this initial interview, it is vital to answer all questions as honestly as you can. Doing so will ensure that you are receiving the best detox plan based on your needs.

After intake, a person will be shown around the facility and to their room. Detox centre staff will supervise while a patient unpacks to make sure they’re not bringing in anything that isn’t allowed during the detox process. This could include prescription medications, other drugs, cell phones or other electronic items. What a person can bring into a detox centre is outlined under the facility’s policies.

Before detox begins, a physical exam will be taken. You will talk about any other underlying health concerns you have aside from your addiction. Depending on the nature of a person’s addiction, medication might be offered to help with detox symptoms. Common medications used in a medically-assisted detox include methadone (for heroin and opiates), naltrexone (for alcohol and opioids), suboxone (for heroin and opiates), and buprenorphine.

Those who undergo a medically-supervised detox will be monitored the entire time to ensure there are no negative reactions to the medication given. People going through drug detox are often given other medications to help them through the process. Vitamins and supplements, sleeping pills, non-opioid based pain relievers, and other medications that help the withdrawal process, are common during drug detox.

When a person successfully completes the detox programme, they will either go home or continue with further treatment. People that are receiving comprehensive inpatient care that includes therapy and treatment will stay at the detox facility to get the further help they need.

Outpatient Detox Treatment

When a person detoxes through an outpatient centre, they will see a medical professional at regularly scheduled times throughout the detox process. Depending on the nature of a person’s addiction, there may be prescribed medication taken to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal.

Outpatient drug detox is obviously more beneficial than trying to detox alone, but should be done with precaution. The urge to use drugs during the detox period can be extremely overwhelming. Without 24-hour supervision, a person is more likely to relapse when hit with familiar triggers. Outpatient drug detox will require a steadfast determination by the person receiving treatment.

When an outpatient detox is completed, a person will most often continue with further treatment. As with inpatient detox, doing an outpatient detox is only the first step in the recovery process. In order to overcome the psychological nature of their addiction, it’s highly recommended a person receives continued treatment.

How Long Does Drug Detox Last?

The length a person experiences detox is dependent upon a variety of factors. These include:

  • The type of drug
  • How long a person has been using
  • The amount a person uses each time
  • The way they use (smoking, snorting, intravenously, orally)
  • Any other mental or physical health issues
image showing young people enjoying their sober life after successful Drug Detox

It’s likely that a person who has been using heroin on a daily basis for months (or even years), is going to have a much longer detox than a person who has a problem using cocaine on the weekends. The worst of their symptoms will happen around 6-10 hours after the drug begins to wear off. Symptoms might remain extremely unpleasant for 2 days up to a week depending on the nature of the individual’s addiction.

For common drug addictions, a general timeline for detox is as follows:


Withdrawal most often begins within 12 hours after a person’s last dose. Peak withdrawal will last between 24-72 hours. Acute cases of heroin withdrawal can experience peak withdrawal symptoms to last for up to a week or more depending on how much and how frequently the drug was being taken. Physical and psychological withdrawal can continue to last for months.

Prescription Opiates (Vicodin, Oxycontin)

Withdrawal begins approximately 8 hours after a person’s last dose. Peak withdrawal symptoms most often last from 12-72 hours. Less severe detox symptoms can continue for up to ten days. Long-term detox from opiates can last for weeks.


Withdrawal symptoms begin shortly after a person’s last dose, with withdrawal symptoms sometimes noticeable after just a couple of hours. Peak symptoms will last between 12-48 hours depending on the severity of a person’s addiction. Cocaine withdrawal can last from a few weeks to several months.

Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax Klonpin)

Withdrawal from benzodiazepines is notoriously difficult and can last for days. Withdrawal can begin between 1-4 days after a person’s last dose. Peak symptoms of withdrawal can last for two weeks. Long-term, mild withdrawal from benzodiazepines can last for months or years.


Withdrawal from methamphetamine (or meth) begins approximately 24 hours after a person’s last dose. Peak symptoms can last 24 hours up to a week depending on the severity of a person’s addiction.

What Are the Symptoms of Drug Withdrawal?

The withdrawal symptoms a person experiences during detox will depend upon the nature of their addiction. Certain drugs produce more difficult withdrawal symptoms than others. The withdrawal a person goes through all depends on how much they use, how long they’ve been using, what type of substance is used, any other substances being used, and any other physical or mental problems the person is facing. Following are common withdrawal symptoms commonly associated with addiction.

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Getting through the physical withdrawal symptoms associated with addiction can be impossible without a professional drug detox. Physical withdrawal can be so bad that it keeps people locked into an addictive cycle for years. For those with a severe drug addiction, physical withdrawal can become life threatening. Some common physical withdrawal symptoms associated with drug addiction include:

  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Fever
  • Runny Nose
  • Headache
  • Muscle tension
  • Problems breathing
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea
  • Tremors
  • Tight chest due to extreme anxiety

Withdrawal from acute addictions to drugs like heroin or prescription opiates can make a person extremely sick. The word “dope sick” is usually used to describe a person coming off heroin because of the way withdrawal symptoms mimic the worst case of the flu a person has ever experienced.

An addict knows that the moment they take more drugs all these negative symptoms of physical withdrawal will go away. This is why it is extremely important to undergo a professional drug detox. Attempting to detox alone can simply be too difficult. When a person knows that using will make them feel better, it’s often too hard to resist the temptation. When you’re in a professional detox setting however, it’s not as easy to give into the temptation, lest you walk out of the detox centre.

Mental and Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms

Aside from helping with physical withdrawal symptoms, a professional drug detox will make it easier for the person to deal with the mental and emotional aspects of drug withdrawal. Some of the psychological symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Extreme anxiety
  • Severe depression
  • Irritation
  • Racing thoughts
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Agitation or anger

Being in a professional setting while going through the very difficult emotional rollercoaster associated with drug withdrawal can be of tremendous benefits. The intense emotions and negative thoughts a person has during withdrawal can make a person question why they’re attempting to quit drugs at all.

When they receive professional detox treatment however, there is support staff available at all times. Having a professional therapist or counsellor to talk to while going through the detox process can make a huge difference in the success of a person’s recovery.

Why Do We Need Addiction Treatment after a Successful Detox?

There is a common misconception that after successfully completing detox that a person doesn’t need to continue with treatment. People that have gone through detox often feel that because the drug has run its course in their system and they’ve successfully gotten over their physical withdrawal symptoms, that the need for further treatment is unwarranted.

Detox should never be considered a full treatment for drug addiction. Detox is excellent at helping a person through the initial stage of recovery. It’s important to remember however, that a person will benefit tremendously in receiving therapy and treatments designed specifically for addiction recovery. There are psychological aspects of addiction that must be addressed in order for a person to overcome their addiction for good.

Detox can help a person stop using drugs for a short period, but without therapy and the tools necessary to overcome the psychological aspects of addiction, it often isn’t long before a person starts using again. To overcome addiction, the addict must learn new ways of thinking and behaving. Detox helps the physical aspect of their addiction, while therapy and various treatments help them understand their addiction and learn to stay sober for good.

What to Expect after Detox?

Making it through the detox process is something to be celebrated. A person can feel like they’re on a natural high after overcoming the difficult withdrawals associated with detox. Like all highs, this one will too come down. Remember, detox is only designed to help a person through the initial stages of drug withdrawal. And although there is sometimes a therapist that can help through the process, once detox is over, there are still many facets of a person’s addiction that must be faced.

The importance of getting professional treatment after a drug detox is completed cannot be stressed enough. In order for a person to successfully sustain sobriety, there are various therapies and treatments that must take place. If you go to a detox centre that is part of a comprehensive inpatient programme, you will begin these therapies immediately following detox. An inpatient treatment centre will offer a seamless transition from detox to the rest of their treatment.

For those attending a comprehensive outpatient programme, the time following detox will be spent going to different therapy and treatment appointments. Outpatient rehab is done for approximately 10-12 hours each week and lasts approximately 2-3 weeks after detox is over.

For those who have chosen to just go to a drug detox centre without choosing other treatment options, it is extremely wise to remember how important additional treatment can be. There are some free services offered through the NHS, as well as various 12-step meetings that can be accessed regularly throughout Essex and London. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are both free and completely confidential ways for a person to stay motivated on the road to recovery.

Choosing a Drug Detox Centre

As much as you want to get the help you need, choosing a drug detox centre isn’t always easy. Navigating through the beginning stages of addiction recovery can be overwhelming, confusing, and utterly exhausting. Addiction doesn’t just take a toll on the addict. It can be devastating to family members as well. For those trying to help an addicted loved one overcome their dependency on drugs, trying to find a quality drug detox centre can feel impossible considering everything else you’re dealing with.

We’re here to help guide you through the process and answer any questions you have. It’s important to know you’re not alone in the struggle you face to help the person you love. We know how hard it can be, and are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for all your questions regarding drug detox.

Some of the common things people look for when choosing a drug detox for themselves or an addicted friend or family member include:

  • The proximity of the detox centre to home
  • How long the detox treatment will last
  • The cost of the detox centre
  • What amenities are provided in the cost
  • The ability to see friends or family members while detoxing
  • What the housing accommodations are (if staying at an inpatient centre)
  • If the centre offers additional addiction treatment
Why choose eata.org.uk?

If someone you care about is exhibiting signs of addiction – whether it’s excessive marijuana use, long-term dependency on pharmaceuticals, binge drinking of alcohol or even financially damaging levels of gambling – contact us for immediate rehabilitation help.

We Can Help with Drug Detox in the UK

We understand how crucial it is to find a drug detox that will work for your individual needs. Making it through the detox process is the first step towards the freedom you or your loved one deserves from addiction. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer any questions you have about drug detox. There is a lot to consider when thinking about ending an addiction to drugs. Doing it alone can prove to be incredibly difficult, even to the most determined of individuals. Getting professional help for drug detox and other treatment is the best option a person has to overcome their addiction for good.

No matter what type of drug addiction a person is facing, a comprehensive treatment plan that includes detox, therapy, and other treatments is the best options when it comes to getting help. We can help you navigate through the many different options for addiction treatment, and help you make the best decision based upon your individual needs. It is rare that a person will find lasting sobriety from detox alone. We are here to explain why further treatment is often necessary, and exactly what this treatment entails.

No one deserves to live trapped in the depths of addiction. If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug addiction, please call us immediately to see how we can help. We’re here to offer advice without judgment and help you through each step you take when deciding upon the best treatment to fit your needs. We’re here to give unbiased advice on everything from drug detox and treatment plans to counselling services and information on how to stage an intervention. We look forward to helping you on the first steps you take towards a future full of limitless possibility.

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