Drug Rehabilitation Blog


The First Step to Addiction Recovery – Drug Detoxification

Nearly 24 million Americans need treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. According to the National Center on Drug Abuse (NCDA), only 11 percent actually get help at a treatment center. This means there are extraordinary amounts of individuals who are not benefiting from inpatient treatment programs that can start addicts on the road to recovery. Drug detoxification is the first step to addiction recovery and it is one of many tools in a comprehensive rehabilitation program. The detox process focuses on physical healing after long-term drug abuse and addiction. According to the (NIDA), detox rids the body of addictive drugs while managing withdrawal symptoms. It is an important first step to addiction recovery after the initial decision to seek inpatient treatment.

However, patients must realize that detox is not a whole treatment for drug abuse. Addiction is physical and psychological in nature, and treatment therapies must address both issues. Detox can help people stop abusing drugs, but a relapse will occur without follow-up care.

Early Stage of Detox

The early stage of detoxification is intense for most addicts. The trained staff at an inpatient treatment center provides all levels of support. Numerous issues can affect patients during the first few days of detox, and the staff addresses the most urgent needs first.

Violent behaviors, drug-induced psychosis, medical illness, suicidal thoughts and self-inflicted injury are some of the many issues that may arise during detoxification. As the treatment center staff identifies these issues, they attempt to stabilize the patient. Only then can they deal with detox withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Different classes of drugs cause different withdrawal symptoms, according to reputable medical references. Specific symptoms, and their intensity, vary depending on the drug of choice, length of addiction, and co-existing medical disorders.

Cravings, mood and sleep disturbances and physical issues like chills and tremors are common addiction withdrawal symptoms. Certain drugs can bring on substance-specific symptoms. For example, detox from opioid medications can cause hallucinations or seizures. Heroin and other opioids can cause bone and muscle pain. Cocaine detox can cause depression and suicidal thoughts.

No matter what drug causes an addiction, detoxification is a safe choice in treatment centers where trained professionals supervise the process. Since detox can cause serious withdrawal symptoms and other health issues, self-detox is never recommended. Most inpatient programs provide 24-hour emergency assistance, constant monitoring and therapeutic follow-up care.

Drug Detox Methods

Inpatient detox programs help drug addicts avoid relapse and provide emergency care when needed. The most effective ones combine drug detoxification with follow-up treatment. Patients work closely with treatment center staff to choose the best detox method for their specific needs.

Depending on their drug of choice, rehab patients have various options. Different methods are effective for different people. Most inpatient treatment centers offer a “cold turkey” detox as well as other methods. Whatever option is used, professional supervision and therapeutic follow-up help patients avoid a relapse into full-blown addiction.

Drug Detox Duration

Drug detoxification lasts until the withdrawal symptoms subside. According to NIDA, it ends when the patient is physically and mentally stable. As well as stopping the drug abuse, detox prepares patients for the hard work of therapy.

Not every recovering addict completes detoxification on their first attempt. Many patients must try several times before sobriety sticks. Drug addiction is chronic by nature, and relapse is a common occurrence.

Take the First Step to Recovery

Drug detoxification is only the first step to addiction recovery, but it is a significant one. Recovering addicts cannot experience successful treatment without it. Inpatient treatment centers provide safe and effective detox programs that help patients continue their journey to recovery.

Drug addiction is often linked to grief, violence, sexual trauma and life changes like divorce and unemployment. Once detox is complete, patients must address these underlying issues with intensive therapy. As they move past their withdrawal symptoms, they can move forward with therapy and after-care. In time, they begin to heal.


  • Diane C

    Detox has to be the hardest thing anyone has to do. I have helped a couple of people through this when I was younger and it was really hard. The ups and downs that the person goes through is very hard to watch but if you can get them through it, you will have saved their life. I completely agree that you need to get the person into a good in-house drug rehab program to get this done.

  • Amanda

    This is an interesting article. I never knew that such a low amount of people were receiving help with their drug or alcohol problem, only 11%! I know that going to rehab can be hard for people to be able to walk through the door and start. Also with the first step being detox, it can be so much to handle. However, working with trained professionals in a controlled area, make possible for a person to really be able to over come their addiction. I did not realize though the per the NIDA that a person has to be stable mentally and physically before the detox is consider complete. Detox is important because it really helps a person to be able to overcome and handle why they took drugs and alcohol in the first place. The best way to detox is with professional so you can get the medical care you need.

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