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

Substance Detoxification

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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 are realizing 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 extremely difficult 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. 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 serious 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 important 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.

Some of the top-notch detox centers include Novus, Shadow Mountain Recovery, and Valley Hope of Parker. They can easily be found on the internet, where you can research their various amenities.

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.
  • Anne Kinder
    Do you know of any couples specific rehabs centers that are sliding scale , free or take medical. My husband and I would like to be able to get and stay clean together and we{ve done A LOT of other damage to our relationship because of our drug abuse. I have become an angry emotional nightmare that is constantly flying off the handle at the littlest things at him and he has comitted multiple infidelities including coming out as bisexual. I in turn was in another relationship which i know hurt himwhile he was in jail. Even 3 years ago i never could have imagined having these isssues. Despite the drugs he was always faithful, duitiful and doting to me. The problems started when we added meth and especially benzos to our go to standard heroin. i do not know how to handle these isssues on drugs let alone sober. We have been married almost 10 years and were clean when we started dating and when we got married. I want to fall in love with the person i married again )the sober one) and he says he wants the same. we do not have the financial resources, familial support to be able to take advantage of the best options. Do you have any idea what we can do ti sto’p the destructive cyvle we are in- i am filled with self hatred confucsionand a sense of hopelessnessEveryone we know says that in order to succeed at recovery we must leave each other behind but we werent using when we fell in love. Thats not the person I was so atttracted to that I wanted and still want to spend my life with . The statistics for heroin addicts and recovery even alone are so depresssing that I want a tatoo says [and today i say fuck statistics!. Because we have been using for so long ithougt it might be helpful for us to replace the ritual of getting high the min we wake up together with taking suboxone together every mornig in decreasing amounts that way we recomit that we w¿cant get high for the day. i realize we have a long and difficult road ahead of us but we both think this is somthing worth fighting for- Second corinthians says that real love [hopes all things, believes all things, bears all thiings and endures all things . we vowed to be there for each other for better or worse and now is one of the worse times. Nothing about my life vaguely resembles the hopes and dreams we once had together. Please help. Thanks