Drug Detox: What Is Detoxification, And Why Is It Important?

what does drug detoxification mean

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Addiction to drugs such as cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, and others has become a dire global problem. Fortunately, more and more people realize that substance dependency leads to life-threating situations, and more users are aware of the importance and effects of getting clean.

What is drug detox?

Drug detox is the process during which the human body adjusts to a life free of addictive substances. Detoxification involves abstaining from drugs and alcohol in order to eliminate various toxins from the bloodstream. Detox is also considered the first step towards recovery and is implemented as the first step towards a sober life.

Who needs drug detox?

Drug detox is necessary for people struggling with drug addiction, be it prescriptions pills or illicit drugs. After developing drug tolerance, addicts increase their substance intake, which can lead to dire effects on the body. To prevent life-threatening situations, addicts must recognize that they require professional help and detoxification.

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Why is drug detox important?

Drug detox plays a crucial role in an addict’s journey towards a substance-free life and is the first step towards recovery. Without drug detox, an addict may have to face challenging health problems such as heart, kidney and liver failure, cancer, and even symptoms of psychological nature such as hallucinations.

What are the symptoms of detox?

  • Muscle aches
  • Tremors
  • Paranoia
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Gastrointestinal distress

Inpatient and outpatient drug detox

There are two main types of drug detox treatments: inpatient and outpatient drug detox.

Inpatient drug detox refers to the rigorous medical treatment provided at a treatment center to those who have been dependent for an extended period. During inpatient drug detox, patients are closely monitored and are not allowed to leave the premises after checking in.

Outpatient drug detox, on the other hand, does not require the patients’ constant presence at the center. This type of detox is suited for those who do not have a long history of drug abuse and so might not experience severe withdrawal symptoms. An outpatient drug detox is also a great option for people who are not able to get a leave of absence from work.

Initial stages of drug detox

The first stages of drug detox can be a grueling process for the addict. Depending on the duration of their addiction, withdrawal symptoms vary between mild and severe. Because detoxification is such a delicate process, patients receive professional medical help while undergoing drug detox. The professional medical staff is in charge of alleviating various withdrawal symptoms, which may include:

  • Sweating
  • Excessive yawning
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Muscle aches
  • Increasing watering of the eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Insomnia

Even though most of these symptoms are far from life-threatening, they can cause considerable discomfort for the patient. This is why psychiatric and medical professionals are very helpful during the detox process.

A variety of issues may surface within the first few hours of detox, the most common of which are violence, psychosis, and injury.


Users who were addicted to synthetic cathinone, or “bath salts” are prone to violent behavior. These individuals may attempt to cause harm not only to themselves but other patients and the medical staff. In dangerous situations, sedation or restraint might be required in order to avoid possible incidents with other patients. However, only extremely violent situations require such drastic measures.


Psychosis is a severe and dangerous state, which is mostly associated with cocaine use. Large amounts of cocaine can easily lead to a paranoid or psychotic episode, which manifests itself as visual and auditory hallucinations and delusional thinking. Patients who struggle with this disorder are often described as unpredictable and erratic.


Causing self-harm is a common coping mechanism while undergoing detox. Feeling physical pain may distract the patient from other parts of the grueling detox experience, which is why self-harm is not uncommon. Suicide attempts are also common for detox patients.

Finding the Right Drug Detox

Detox is the first and most crucial step that the addict will have to take on their journey towards recovery. One can choose from a plethora of detox facilities that provide great medical assistance.

View Sources
  1. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2006. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45.). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64115/
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Medical detoxification. 2016. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification.


Leave a comment

  • Lucy
    I’m looking for free detox for friend of mine who has no family to support financially I been helping this on and off three years and I’m my self in debt beacause of I helped this person so much and I don’t wanna see him dying his a good soul and again I found him on the street in rain all night my heart melted so picked him and put him in the hotel foe 3 days but tomorrow his checking out and he needs detox he will loose his job soon too if he doesn’t come out and he doesn’t have insurance too so if anyone can help me I bag of you by the way my name is Lucy and I’m so sad for him
    • Libby Davis
      (888)-459-5511 that is the number for a free hotline for help call them an they will help you find a free treatment centers and detox centers
  • Starla Taylor
    I am looking for a state funded inpatient drug rehab for myself.Im a iv meth user in desperate need of help..
    • Robin Pharr
      Bethel Colony of Mercy, Lenior NC
  • Charlene Deluca
    My son is addicted to oxycontin and need free assistance in helping him detox. He’s been smoking the pills for 8 months and just broke down and want to get help
    • Robyn Pharr
      Bethel Colony of Mercy – Lenior, NC – a 65 day in patient facility that has a LOW intake fee and does wonders for the body and soul. Please look them up.