Drug Detox — Everything You Need to Know

October 13, 2021

Different drugs (including alcohol) have different effects on the body. Depending on how long a person has been using, how often they use, and the amounts they use, the process of drug detox will vary.

Some may be able to quit cold turkey while others may need to go into a facility to medically detox.

Essentially, people use because drugs make them feel better. Drugs can turn off the constant mental chatter and allow users to experience a “break” from life.

There is usually a “golden” era of using for most addicts. This is a period of time where the drugs work, the amount taken is under control, and no serious consequences result from their use.

However, there comes a point where the cons of using outweigh the pros. You may:

What was once a way to wind down has become an obsessive habit that engulfs your life and the lives of all the people around you.

Deciding to get sober is a brave and heroic endeavor. Many people avoid getting sober as long as possible because they fear the detox process. This is especially true for Heroin addicts who get violently ill when they stop using the drug.

In this article, you’ll read about detoxing from different drugs and what to expect.

Drug Detox — Specific Substances

Let’s take a look at what the detox process looks like for some of the most abused substances.

Marijuana — A Drug Detox Most Don’t Consider

I know what you’re thinking: “Marijuana is not as hard of a drug to quit as many others.” 

Although in many ways marijuana is one of the safer drugs to use, detoxing from it can be quite unbearable. Marijuana use helps calm people down, gives them an appetite, and helps them sleep better, among other things.

However, when stopped abruptly, you can experience adverse reactions. You may:

An overall feeling of being “on-edge” is common for those detoxing from marijuana. 

For the most part, marijuana detox is safe. You can kick it at home and are in no real physical danger if you stop, but there are reasons that you may want to go into a facility to detox.

If you find yourself unable to stay sober for more than a couple of days on your own, then this is a good option.

Depending on the person, the depression and anxiety that come with marijuana detox can lead to suicidal ideation. If you’re on the fence about seeking medical help, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Alcohol — One of the Deadliest Drug Detoxes

Detoxing from heroin is safer than detoxing from alcohol. Many people are surprised to hear this, but it’s true. If you drink large amounts of alcohol daily, you will begin to experience the “shakes” in the morning. 

That is an indication that you’ve become chemically dependent on alcohol. In order to just get through a day of work, you may start drinking in the morning before work and continue to drink at work.

When you decide you want to quit drinking, you might think you can just lay on your couch at home and “tough it out.” This is extremely dangerous as your blood pressure can get extremely high, and you could have seizures.

Alcohol detox can be deadly. You need a medically assisted detox to make sure you are safe.

Opiates — A Drug Detox That’s Painful (But Not Deadly) 

It is extremely easy to get addicted to opiates. Perhaps you are skateboarding and break your arm. You may get prescribed some Tylenol #3 for the pain.

You take one and realize you love how it feels. You then begin to take more than prescribed and before you know it, you’re shooting heroin. It’s a common story. 

The detox from opiates mimics flu-like symptoms:

These symptoms, paired with depression and excruciating anxiety, make it difficult for a person to make it even 24 hours. 

Going into a facility to get physically separated is usually the only way many opiate addicts can get through withdrawal. There are medicines available for what is called medically assisted treatment. One of these medications is Suboxone.

Suboxone makes detoxing from opiates as painless as possible. A Suboxone taper lasts about a week, but some use it for an extended period of time to help with cravings.

Stimulants — A Drug Detox That’s Safe (But Difficult)

Stimulants, such as cocaine and crystal meth, are extremely addictive. They release massive amounts of dopamine, which gives users an overwhelming feeling of euphoria.

Stimulant abuse can cause a person to stay up for days without much food. This can lead to the quick deterioration of the body. When you stop using stimulants, the first thing that will usually set in is depression.

Since the body is no longer getting that surge of dopamine from a substance, it must re-adjust. Extreme anxiety and panic attacks often occur when detoxing from stimulants.

You may sleep for days, and when awake, eat massive amounts of food (including sweets).

Physically, stimulants are safe to detox from. However, many stimulant abusers will experience suicidal ideation when they stop using. It may be wise to detox at a psychiatric facility in this case.

Benzodiazepines — A Potentially Deadly Drug Detox

Benzodiazepines (or benzos), such as Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin, are prescribed to people who struggle with anxiety. They are fast-acting drugs that can bring a panic attack to an abrupt stop. The calming effects of benzos make them extremely easy to abuse.

If you take benzos daily, you will build a tolerance, which often leads to taking more and more. If you have a high tolerance and decide to quit, the detox process will be painful and extremely dangerous.

The anxiety experienced during a benzo detox is not something you would wish on your worst enemy. Your body aches, and it may be extremely difficult to eat much. You need to have a medically assisted detox.

You can’t stop abruptly, and a detox facility can put on you a benzo taper. This is where each day they will give a little bit less of the drug until you are off of it completely.

If you stop abruptly, you are at a risk for seizures. Just like alcohol, a benzo detox can be deadly.

What Comes After Drug Detox — Sobriety, Recovery, and Relapse

Drug detox usually lasts about a week, and many people just stop there. However, it is extremely important to consider doing an inpatient program for at least 30 days.

If your goal is to stay sober for an extended period of time then you will have to put in some work. The disease of addiction lives in the brain, so it requires a change of thinking and behavior.

Sobriety doesn’t equal recovery. Recovery is about getting to the root of addiction and confronting your issues. 

Even after an inpatient program, it is important to get continued support. Sober living, working the 12 steps with a sponsor, attending an intensive outpatient program (IOP), and regular therapists appointments will make it more likely for you to achieve long-term sobriety.

Relapse is a part of many people’s journeys, but it is by no means a requirement if you take constructive action.

Recovery is a journey, not a destination.

IOP at ASIC Recovery

At ASIC Recovery, our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) is dedicated to helping individuals develop healthier coping skills and build a recovery supportive network in all aspects.

Once your drug detox is complete, IOP is the next step.

Click to learn more.

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