Brain and Body During Detox

Learn more about the drug detox process, the side effects and risks of detox, and if detox is right for you.

Table of Contents

What Is Drug Detox?

If you have a drug or alcohol substance abuse disorder, this means your body is dependent upon those substances to get through daily life. You may even experience intense cravings for those substances if you aren’t able to take them frequently enough. The first step of recovery is almost always detoxing your body of these substances.

The drug detox process involves clearing your body of these substances. It’s important to make sure you take on this process at a treatment center, as drug detox can be dangerous depending on how long you’ve been using substances. 1
Drug Detox Process

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How Long Does Drug Detox Take?

The timeline for how long the drug detox process takes depends on many factors, such as your genetic makeup, how long and how often you were using substances, what substance you were using, and if you have any other disorders. In most cases, drug detox usually takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete.2

Drug Detox Symptoms

No matter what substance you are detoxing from, you will almost always experience detox symptoms. This is due to your body attempting to reconfigure how it functions without the presence of that substance anymore. Some common drug detox symptoms include:3
  • Nausea
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Muscles aches or pains
  • Delirium tremens (more common with alcohol)
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Insomnia
Some of these symptoms can be fatal depending on how long your substance abuse disorder lasted. Reach out to a medical facility before undergoing the drug detox process on your own.

What Is the Drug Detox Process?

The process of detoxing from drugs looks different for everyone, but it usually consists of three stages: medical assessment, withdrawal, and stabilization.4

Medical Assessment

A medical professional at the clinic or hospital you’re detoxing at will conduct an examination. This will help them see if you have any co-occurring mental health disorders, your physical health, and what other types of help you may need. It often involves getting blood work done, discussing your medical history, and undergoing a few other tests.


The withdrawal stage is where your body will start to actually detox from any substances. Depending on how severe your symptoms are, you may also get medication, such as methadone or buprenorphine, in order to help mitigate any adverse effects. Some side effects of withdrawal include:

  • Physical symptoms: These can include nausea, difficulty breathing, muscle aches, sweating, or headaches.
  • Psychological symptoms: Some psychological symptoms include feelings of depression, loneliness, or severe cravings.
  • Severe symptoms: Some symptoms of detox are severe and can be life-threatening, such as delirium tremens or seizures. 


This is the final stage of the drug detox process where the individual is almost over any adverse side effects. Medications may still be used during this stage, and a medical professional will also speak with you about what treatment options are best for you to complete the rest of the recovery process.5

Different Types of Drug Detox

After you have undergone withdrawal and stabilization, you will start another part of the drug detox process. There are many types of inpatient or outpatient detox that your doctor may recommend for you. These will be detailed below.

Types of Detox Programs and Relevant Considerations

Various drug detox types and opportunities may include:
  • Medically managed inpatient detox: This is the most intense level of detox, where you will stay at a facility under constant medical supervision. 
  • Medically monitored inpatient detox: This type of detox still involves around-the-clock monitoring but is often done at a location that is not a hospital or acute detox center.   
  • Clinically managed residential detox: Clinically managed detox is when you receive supervision from staff, but instead of focusing on medical care, the staff instead prefers to focus on emotional or mental needs.
  • Ambulatory detox with or without extended onsite monitoring: These treatment options are generally for those with less severe cases. You will undergo detox and treatment at a facility for several hours, but are able to go home afterward.

Not all detox programs work for everyone, so make sure you speak with a medical professional before deciding which program to take part in.

Drug Detox Side Effects and Risks

The drug detox process already has multiple side effects and risks, but these can increase depending on a multitude of factors. For instance, if you are attempting to detox while you’re pregnant, there are things you need to think about before starting.
Getting treatment as soon as possible if you’re pregnant is the best for the baby’s health, but make sure you tell your doctor you’re pregnant before you begin, as some medications will harm the baby if they’re used while you’re pregnant. 6

Importance of Medical Supervision During Detox

Also, as stated before, quitting cold turkey or undergoing drug detox at home can be potentially life-threatening. Since your body has been reliant upon another substance for so long, it can go into shock without it, which may result in seizures or other adverse side effects.
If you aren’t at a medical facility when these symptoms occur, you may be unable to receive the care and treatment you need.
Drug Detox Process

Medical Drug Detox at Profound Treatment

If you or a loved one need help to undergo the drug detox process, reach out to Profound Treatment today. Our compassionate staff will work with you to create a detox program that is specific to your needs to make sure you get the help you need.

We offer multiple detox options, including inpatient and residential detox. Profound Treatment can safely help you through the detox process while making sure you receive the support you need in a stress-free and calm environment.

Treatment Opportunities

Our treatment options offer 30-90 programs, depending on the level of care you need. We also offer cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, psychodynamic therapy, and many others to make sure you receive the help you or a loved one deserve.

You don’t have to go through the drug detox process alone – reach out to us today to start the detox and recovery process, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

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