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Excessive drug use can quickly develop into a physical dependence; a severe form of substance use disorder. Addiction can impact your life in many ways – not only can it take its toll on your finances, and physical and mental health, but can be detrimental to your general well-being.

Drug abuse can also impact your loved ones – whether it be friends, family members, or your children. However, drug dependence can be difficult to overcome, especially without professional support. This is why drug addiction treatment is so important – it can give you the best chance of a successful recovery.

But what exactly is a drug detox, and what drugs require a drug detox? What type of drug detox is best for you and your addiction? And what drug withdrawal symptoms might you experience during a detox? This will all be explained on this page.

What is a Drug Detox?

Detoxification is the process of eliminating toxic substances from your body – so during a drug detox, you will cleanse your body of the drug to which you are addicted. It is one of the most important stages in the drug addiction treatment process.

Much like alcohol detoxification, drug detoxification aims at managing both intoxication and withdrawal – clearing the toxins that you’re dependent on or that you abuse. The detoxification process is designed to minimise the physical damage that is caused by the substances – for example, heroin, alcohol, or cocaine.

However, a detoxification program alone isn’t designed to resolve any social, psychological or behavioural issues that are associated with substance abuse.

The drug detox and alcohol detox process can be unpleasant – and can be worse when detoxing from harder substances such as heroin or prescription drugs.

In some cases, detoxing can be dangerous and even life-threatening. In these cases, you will likely be offered a medically assisted detox on an inpatient basis (inpatient treatment), where you will have medical supervision. In some cases, you may be offered prescription drugs such as methadone (for opioid addiction) to ease the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Detoxing from a drug doesn’t always mean that you’ll proceed to the next stage of the rehab process. However, detoxification is almost always the first step of the rehab process – and you’ll need to detox from drugs to start drug rehab.

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What Type of Drugs Require a Detox?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, opioids were one of the top drugs involved in drug-related emergency hospital admissions, with 14.79% of drug-related ED visits being related to opioids.

Some of the most common types of drugs that you could benefit from detoxing from in a dedicated centre include:

It’s not just illegal drugs that may require a detox. Certain prescription drugs can also require a drug detox, such as:

  • Antidepressants and antianxiety tablets (e.g fluoxetine and citalopram)
  • Drugs in the diazepam family
  • Prescribed opioids (e.g tramadol which can cause psychosis when withdrawing)
  • Sleeping tablets
  • Many more prescribed medications

Different drugs may require a different detox process or treatment at a specialised centre for that drug. For example, you may have heard of rapid drug detox to treat opioid dependence.

Ultra-rapid opiate detox that has been performed under the right circumstances typically has few adverse effects. It’s considered a comfortable ultra-rapid detox for patients requiring effective treatment for their opioid addiction.

To learn more about the drug detox process, reach out to one of our friendly specialists.

How Long Does a Drug Detox Process Last?

Typically, it takes between 7-15 days – but one size does not fit all when detoxing from drugs. The detoxification process typically varies in length depending on a number of factors including:

The first two days/ 48 hours of the drug detox timeline tend to be the most difficult – this is when symptoms are most intense. However, you may be offered medication to counteract the unpleasant and dangerous symptoms.

Some drug addictions only require a 7-day drug detoxification/ detox program, or even a 5-day drug detox program. However, this tends to be best for milder addictions and addictions to ‘milder’ substances that don’t result in severe withdrawal symptoms such as cannabis.

Drug detox only deals with the physical aspect of drug addiction – and short-term drug detoxes won’t do as much for your mental health as much as long-term detoxes. This is why, at Help4Addiction, we can also help you find the best 14-day detox programs and 28-day detox programs.

Long-term detoxes are generally recommended for drug addictions such as heroin addiction – and typically include a robust programme or therapy and aftercare (secondary treatment), as part of the rehab process.

Outlining The Different Types of Drug Detox

The type of detox you will undergo (the detox strategy) depends on a number of factors. Typically, choosing the right detox strategy for you involves clinical judgment. In some cases, we recommend a comprehensive medical assessment to ensure you undergo the right detox for your circumstances.

Your personal circumstances, preferences, and lifestyle will be considered, as will the degree of your dependence. With most detox programs, you’ll discuss any existing health issues before completing the drug treatment programme.

Medically-Supervised Drug Detox

One of the most common forms of drug detox treatment is inpatient drug detox, which typically involves medical assistance. With residential rehab, you’ll be able to withdraw from the drug in a safer environment, with the advantage of 24-hour medical assistance.

During medically-assisted detoxification, you won’t have the temptations that you may have had in your previous environment. This is generally offered for more severe addictions and addictions involving heroin and other opioids, as well as certain prescription medications.

This is because it can be more difficult to detox from these substances without medical intervention. In the case of heroin addiction, you may be offered methadone to ease the transition during a medical detox.

A medically-assisted detox is considered a safer treatment as you will be constantly monitored – as withdrawal symptoms from drugs such as heroin can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening in some cases.

Coming off certain drugs without help or ‘cold turkey’ can be life-threatening – for example, your heart may stop under the strain. This is why choosing the right rehab and detox treatment for you, and you’ll be medically assessed to ensure your safety and well-being.

Often, you can move straight onto drug rehab in the same building, meaning that you won’t have to move to a different drug treatment centre. Contact us to begin your medically-supervised detox.

Private Home Detox

At Help4Addiction, we offer private home detox kits. However, these kits are designed to be used by mild alcoholics as opposed to those with an addiction to drugs. When detoxing from home, it’s important that you won’t be tempted with drug-taking – make sure you dispose of any substances in your home.

If you want to complete a home drug detox, we recommend that you opt for advice from a medical professional or our addiction experts at Help4Addiction.

During the initial stages of drug detox, medical supervision is extremely important, as different people may have different reactions and symptoms when withdrawing from drugs. With a private home drug detox, you can still access detox medications that can ease the process.

If you would prefer to undergo a medically assisted detox at home, contact us today so we can connect you with those who can provide you with this service.

Cold Turkey

At Help4Addiction, we never recommend that you quit drugs cold turkey – this is when you detox from drugs without assistance or medication. Quitting drugs this way can be dangerous, especially if you experience dangerous symptoms of withdrawal.

When quitting drugs cold turkey, you may experience dangerous, life-threatening or painful withdrawal symptoms such as seizures and problems. Quitting alcohol, benzodiazepine, or opiates can be especially high risk.

In many cases, medication is often needed to ease the serious withdrawal symptoms during the withdrawal process. If you undergo a ‘cold turkey’ detox, then you may be suffering unnecessarily – there is help out there that can ease the process.

Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

The more you take drugs or the higher the dose you take, the more your body will adapt to the drugs in your system – and you can become physically dependent on them.

This means that you don’t feel ‘normal’ without drugs, and can feel ill and uncomfortable without them. When you are withdrawing from drugs, you will likely have drug cravings and experience many other symptoms of withdrawal.

When you stop using drugs after long-term use, then your body can become ill – and you can experience withdrawal symptoms as your body adapts to the absence of drugs in your system. This can be rooted in the abrupt fluctuation of brain chemicals that can occur when you suddenly withdraw from a drug or substance. The process can be similar to alcohol withdrawal.

The symptoms you experience when going through drug withdrawal may depend on the drug, the length of your addiction, and several other factors. You may experience a range of psychological, behavioural and physical symptoms. Some common withdrawal symptoms may include:

Severe Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

The severity of withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person – and can vary from drug to drug too. Some severe withdrawal symptoms could include:

Before you begin the detox process, you should expect to be medically assessed to determine the best course of action. In many cases, you may undergo drug detox in a rehab facility with 24-hour medical supervision.

If you have an opioid addiction (including heroin, opium, morphine, tramadol and codeine), you should always consider a full medical detox when detoxing from the drug. In some cases, hospitalisation may be the best way forward.

These dangerous withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, but can often be avoided with the right medical detox and medication. Have a chat with us today to discuss the best drug treatment options for you.

What to Expect From Drug Addiction Treatment

Detoxification is only one step of the drug addiction treatment process. Addiction treatment will almost always begin with a drug detox – clearing your body of the drug. This is necessary to move on to the next stages of drug rehabilitation.

If you’re wondering how long rehab takes, it can vary from person to person. Essentially, rehab can last as long as you need it to. There are 7-day programmes, 14-day programmes, and 30+ day programmes – with Help4Addiction, you’re sure to find the right course of treatment for you.

Drug Rehab Treatment

Once you have successfully detoxed from drugs, you may proceed to the further stages of substance abuse treatment.

This involves therapy, which may not be particularly helpful while you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This is because you may be in a vulnerable state, and it, therefore, is not the best or most appropriate time to begin the therapy stage of the rehab process.

Therapy has numerous benefits, for example, it can:

Behavioural therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can be particularly helpful. CBT is based on the idea that your thoughts, actions, and feelings are all linked, and can help you understand how your thoughts may impact your behaviour.

CBT can also help you to understand the root cause of your drug abuse or addiction and to help you to identify your triggers.

You may also be offered therapy or counselling on a one-to-one basis with a clinical psychologist or a counsellor, or you may be offered group therapy to discuss your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in a group setting with individuals that are experiencing similar issues.

Some rehab clinics also offer holistic therapy options – for example, sports therapy or art therapy.


Leaving rehab can be difficult, and you may have worries about returning to your day-to-day life. This is why so many ex-drug users will opt for secondary treatment.

This refers to ongoing support throughout your recovery, whether it be in the form of counselling, group therapy, online support, telephone support, or even support groups.

Help4Addiction Can Find The Right Drug Detox Programme For You

At Help4Addiction, we can arrange the best alcohol detox or drug detox for you. With years of experience helping those with alcohol addiction and drug addiction find the right drug and alcohol treatment, we can give you the best chance of overcoming your addiction.

We’ll begin by discussing your treatment options, and use that to source the most fitting addiction treatment programs for you. Contact us today to begin your recovery journey and to find the best drug and alcohol detox – and remember, you don’t have to deal with your addiction alone.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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