This Page was last reviewed and changed on June 7th, 2022
Detox is the first step of the rehab process; it ensures that you are physically stable enough to address the more underlying aspects of your addiction safely and with a clear mind. On this page, we will explore everything you need to know about detox, including effects of withdrawal, length of care and what to expect from a treatment centre.
Why is detox necessary?
When you become dependent on a substance, it can grow increasingly more difficult to stop consuming it, whether you want to or not. This is because the normal functions of the brain have become disrupted and altered by your addiction.
When taking part in activities that are positive and fuel our survival, such as eating a hearty meal or making advances in our career, our reward pathways are flooded with feel-good sensations, or dopamine, promoting us to take part in these healthy behaviours again. In much the same way, when we engage in behaviours that make us feel good, such as taking pain medication or consuming alcohol, we receive the same jolt of dopamine.
Much like a medication prescribed to you by a doctor, prolonged exposure to a substance will lead your body to become accustomed to it and eventually stop feeling its effects. In response, your physician may offer you a higher dosage to cater to this change. In much the same way, when your body becomes used to a dangerous substance, you feel driven to seek out more of it to achieve the same feeling. When you make the decision to detox and stop using a substance, your body will adjust to this change, and this is where the withdrawal process begins.
Everybody reacts differently to detox, but most people experience some degree of withdrawal, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Individuals can experience side effects such as seizures and severe dehydration. In these circumstances, having access to round-the-clock support is vital, particularly with more serious addictions.
The withdrawal symptoms of detox can differ from person to person, but the most common symptoms include:
Nausea and vomiting
Flu-like symptoms including fever and sore throat
What can we detox from?
Detox is suitable for all addictive substances, including drugs and alcohol. These drugs can also include medication approved by a doctor and later abused by the user.
On this page we cover which drugs you can detox from and the various processes for each.
The more you have engaged with addictive behaviours, the more difficult it will become when you try to stop. Without the appropriate medical supervision, the detox process can be very dangerous. Depending on your condition, you may need to be administered detox medication to help ease you off these harmful substances safely. This is known as medical detox.
In our experience, the safest way for clients to undergo treatment is at an inpatient detox centre under the supervision of a medical professional. At each of our eight UKAT clinics, our clients receive a full medical assessment by one of our highly trained and empathetic staff, who will always provide invaluable advice and guidance during each stage of your treatment.
How long does the withdrawal process last?
The length of the detox process can vary from person to person, as it is dependent on factors such as your health, the quantity of substance in your system, and whether you have any underlying medical conditions. Typically, withdrawal symptoms worsen during the first two days of detox and are the most uncomfortable on the third or fourth day. Providing that you do not develop any serious health complications, these unpleasant symptoms should start to subside seven to ten days into detox.
Length of stay at a detox clinic
The detox process itself typically lasts between a week and ten days. However, every individual is different, and with a variety of factors affecting each addiction, there is no definitive time frame for detox.
However, it is important to remember that detoxing alone does not cure addiction. Targeting the root causes of your addiction is a vital part of understanding yourself and the key to ongoing sobriety.
Putting you at ease about addiction treatment
If you are apprehensive about entering a detox centre, you are not alone, and this is a very common emotion to experience during such a difficult time. However, we at UKAT wish to assure you that when attending a programme, there is no need to be afraid. With a team of professionals trained to support you every step of the way, there are specific processes put in place to calm and ease symptoms, keeping you comfortable and relaxed. When seeking out the help that you deserve, this is the first step on the road to life-long recovery.
Frequently asked questions
Can I go through detox by myself?
It is possible to detox alone. However, we advise against this. Attempting to wean your body off harmful substances is a serious process, and with your brain accustomed to the drugs in your system, stopping your intake without warning can lead to significant health consequences without the appropriate medical intervention.
Is detox dangerous?
The process of detoxification can be dangerous without the right help. As well as psychological risks, there are physical withdrawal symptoms to be mindful of, such as seizures, vomiting and Delirium Tremens, which can prove severe. Access to around-the-clock medical support is highly recommended, as it will ensure the safest possible experience.
When do I need to detox?
A common misconception of detox is that your addiction needs to be unmanageable before it is time to consider treatment. However, if you feel that your illness is interfering with your quality of life and you wish to make a change, whatever stage in your journey, there is never a wrong time to detox.
Our brand promise
If you successfully complete our 90-day inpatient treatment programme but experience a relapse within 30 days of leaving, we will welcome you back for complimentary 30 days of treatment.*
* Click here to learn more or contact UKAT directly for rehab availability.