Detoxification For Drug Addiction: Does It Really Work?

Detoxification For Drug Addiction

A 2015 study shows that almost 10% of American adults abused certain drugs at some point during their lives. Several treatment options are available for addicts that help them overcome their addictions and regain self-control. These methods include drug detox that becomes an addict’s first step towards a complete recovery. But what’s detoxification, and how effective is this process? Here, we’ll answer some queries regarding this method.

What do we mean by detox?

In simple phrases, “detox” involves removing every trace of drugs/alcohol from your body and preparing it for complete recovery. When a person is highly dependent on a substance, experts don’t recommend quitting cold turkey. It leads to withdrawal symptoms that physically/emotionally traumatize addicts. In detox, we medically manage these symptoms and reduce their harmful impact with medications and therapies. Healthcare practitioners ensure that the patient’s comfortable when they experience:

  • Physical symptoms: Nausea, sweating, trembling, vomiting, headaches, and exhaustion
  • Emotional symptoms: Insomnia, paranoia, confusion, irritability, anxiety, and mood swings

How does detoxification work?

So, what happens with an addict during drug detox? First, you must understand that detox and rehab are different procedures, even though these two terms have been used interchangeably. In rehabilitation programs, we restore someone suffering from substance abuse. Detoxification deals with minimizing an addict’s withdrawal symptoms and enabling them to transition to rehab successfully. You can access addiction resources available online to learn treatment options available for drug addicts. Going through these resources, you’ll discover that treatment mostly begins with detoxification. So, the United States Department of Health and Human Services has outlined three phases of your typical detox program:

  1. Evaluation: Clinicians evaluate which substances and how many of them are present inside the addict’s bloodstream. They study their mental/physical health and medical history along with withdrawal potential. It enables them to create a personalized treatment procedure.
  2. Stabilization: When the detoxification begins, clinicians intervene with medications/therapies to help the patient tolerate withdrawal symptoms effectively. It also involves other options, such as bringing friends/family to support the patient.
  3. Transition: Finally, harmful substances have been removed from the addict’s body, and they are now prepared for transitioning to a recovery program. Detox has reduced the chances of relapse in that patient. But detox doesn’t deal with the psychological aspects of a person’s addiction.

Are there any side effects of detox?

Since detox eliminates a person’s physical dependency and doesn’t improve them psychologically, it’s accompanied by some side effects. Remember that quitting cold turkey isn’t easy. Whatever issues you were suppressing with drugs/alcohol, they’ll come back to haunt you. This process isn’t painless. Since it’s dangerous, we only suggest detoxing under medical supervision. Now, not every addict undergoing detox experiences the same side effects, but we can mention some general problems patients faced:

  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Concentration problems
  • Cravings for the substance you’re quitting

Is drug detox successful for addicts?

Does detox work? Now, that’s a million-dollar question. Some folks try rapid detox (lasts around three days) and ultra-rapid detox (cleanses you in a few hours). But we will later explain why these procedures aren’t safe. However, completing a conventional detoxification program makes you healthier. You regain your appetite and become energized again. We’ll suggest working out, meditating, and performing energy healing exercises to enhance the positive impact of this process. Remember that detox will heal you emotionally and spiritually as well. There are many benefits of undergoing drug detox. We’ll mention some of them to emphasize how effective this process is:

  • It improves your physical health.
  • It helps you treat yourself better.
  • It lets you concentrate on stuff better.
  • It allows you to interact with others healthily.
  • It develops self-esteem and boosts your confidence.
  • It lets you acquire hobbies/interests to enjoy yourself.
  • It enables you to undergo treatment for any underlying mental disorder.

How long does detoxification last?

How long does an addict need to detox before cleaning their body? Well, you shouldn’t expect a direct answer to this question since it depends on many factors. Generally speaking, detoxification lasts from one to two weeks. During this process, the patient is monitored for twenty hours by professionals. Thus, the duration relies on which drug you were addicted to and what sort of symptoms you’re experiencing. So, here are some factors that decide how long it takes your body to detox itself:

  • How much of that substance were you consuming?
  • How long did your addiction last?
  • What was your method of consumption of that drug?
  • How intense are your withdrawal symptoms?
  • What’s your family history and genetic makeup?
  • How well are you doing mentally and physically?

Is rapid detox safe for addicts?

Many addiction treatment centers offer another variation of traditional detoxification processes known as “rapid detox.” As the name explains itself, this procedure promises to remove toxins faster than standard detox from your body. So, the patient’s supposed to experience withdrawal symptoms for just a few days instead of over a week. One form of rapid detox involves utilizing naltrexone, a drug used to manage cravings and addictions. But rapid detox isn’t as painless as it’s regularly advertised.

Undergoing rapid detox isn’t just more expensive but also more dangerous than regular detox since you are anesthetized and receive medications that replace the substance. You can see that this method was initially established for folks with heroin/painkiller dependency. Some of its side effects even include death. Hence, its drawbacks far outweigh its advantages. Other less gruesome side effects are:

  • Choking
  • Infection
  • Aspiration
  • Heart attack
  • Drug overdose


Statistics show that 38% of Americans battled drug addiction in 2017. Today, 20+ million people in the USA suffer from substance abuse disorder, yet only 10% receive treatment. Some reports have even suggested that every eighth American had become an alcoholic. So, treatment options for these cravings include detoxification. It helps your body remove toxins, tolerate withdrawal symptoms, and prepare for rehabilitation. It has been effective in many patients by eliminating physical dependency.

There are three steps in this process, i.e., evaluation, stabilization, and transition. Its duration depends on the intensity of addiction and the nature of withdrawal symptoms you’re experiencing. It has some side effects because of which we suggest undergoing detox only under professional supervision. Some options, such as rapid and ultra-rapid detox, aren’t safe. We recommend sticking with regular detox. It’ll enable you to undergo rehabilitation programs and eventually recover entirely from your past addiction.