What Is A Detox?

What is a medically assisted detoxification and how does it work?


Detoxication is but one part of the process of entering sobriety and is essentially one of the easiest parts also.


Medically assisted reductions are rarely complicated and, can be commenced quickly and safely when managed by a team of expert workers.


Detoxification allows the body to be cleared of alcohol and substances by using a substitute medication. Once a detoxification has been completed, this will allow counsellors and other professionals to start the process of psychological work.


Below is an outline of information on each possible detoxification.


Alcohol Detoxification


Problems during medicated alcohol detoxification are extremely rare and highly unlikely to occur. This is because such an in-depth assessment process will take place prior to you commencing one.


Medication likely to be used.


Diazepam (Valium), Chlordiazepoxide (Librium), Lorazepam, Oxazepam are most commonly used to aid in the detoxification process.


Possible side effects during a medically assisted detoxification include:-  drowsiness, tiredness, unsteadiness, poor muscle coordination, forgetfulness headache, dizziness, low blood pressure, stomach upsets, skin rashes, problems with your eyesight, changes in the level of sexual desire, inability to pass urine/holding of urine in the bladder





To aid with these side effects the following drugs can be prescribed. Zopiclone to support with sleep patterns. Vitamin B strong compound and Thiamine to support the

loss of vital nutrients to the body. Carbamazepine to support DT’s or the shakes. Metoclopramide to help with sickness and stomach cramps.

Duration of detoxication 8-12 days.


Opiate Detoxification


Before undertaking an opiate reduction plan, please tell an expert of your medical history. Especially include: brain disorders (such as head injury, tumour, seizures, etc.), breathing problems (such as sleep-apnoea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – COPD, etc.), kidney disease, liver disease, mental/mood disorders (such as confusion, depression, suicidal thoughts), stomach/intestinal problems (such as blockage, constipation, diarrhoea due to infection, paralytic ileus, etc), difficulty urinating (such as due to an enlarged prostate) disease of the pancreas (pancreatitis), gallbladder disease.


Medication likely to be used


Methadone, Buprenorphine or known as Subutex, Naltrexone, Lofexidine, Zopiclone to aid with sleep, Vitamin B strong compound and Thiamine, as a nutrient supplement.


Possible side effects during a medically assisted detoxification include; Nausea, vomiting, constipation, light-headedness, dizziness, dry mouth, drowsiness, or sweating may occur. Some of these side effects may decrease after you have been using this medication for a while. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell the Doctor or pharmacist promptly.




To prevent constipation, eat a diet adequate in fibre, drink plenty of water, and exercise. Consult your pharmacist for help in selecting a laxative (such as a stimulant type with stool softener).


To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position


Early symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tear production
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Later symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goose-bumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


Opiate withdrawal reactions are very uncomfortable but are not life-threatening. Symptoms usually start within twelve hours of last heroin usage and within thirty hours of last methadone exposure if you have been using methadone for an extended period.


A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.


Duration of detoxication process 5-16 days


Stimulant Detoxication (Cocaine, Crack, Amphetamines, Crystal Meth etc)


When a person stops using stimulants, they will normally experience a series of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, but none are life-threatening. Often, the physical and mental effects that present during withdrawal mirror a near-opposite of the substance’s primary effects.


This means that most stimulants, which would normally provide a feeling of elevated mood and energy levels, have a withdrawal period characterized by the opposite feelings of depression, low energy, and lethargy.


With most people who are entering stimulant withdrawal, will not produce life-threatening effects, but it can be problematic to cope with emotionally and physically.


Symptoms may begin immediately following the last use of the substance.


In some cases, the longer-lasting symptoms may still present up to months afterwards, which is why it is highly recommended that professional help, coincides with detoxification.


Stimulants withdrawal symptoms:


Instantly (within 6-12 hrs) after a person stops using, feelings of anxiety, sadness, agitation, and intense cravings for the drug.


Initial phase (24hrs -1 week) the user can feel both mental and physical withdrawal, depressive symptoms, insomnia and exhaustion.


The duration of effects will vary on the stimulant. For example, cocaine’s depressive symptoms usually lessen within a few hours, whereas methamphetamine users may experience depressive symptoms lasting for a much longer period.


One associated risk during stimulant withdrawal can be intense depression, that can lead to suicidal ideation. Having skilled workers such as a doctor or therapist can make the difference for a person when they’re struggling with harmful thoughts.


Medication likely used during detoxification.


Antidepressants may be prescribed to aid with low moods. Use of these medications will generally be reserved until after the acute withdrawal phase has passed.


Sedatives or an anti-anxiety medication may be used, in the short term, to help with the anxiety associated with withdrawal.




A short course of antipsychotic medication may be used if any signs of psychosis emerge during the recovery period.


Once a detox is completed, a client can start engaging in therapy sessions, both in a group and one-on-one. Therapy will help recovering users, learn how to deal with cravings, resist relapse, and find new activities without stimulants.


Over the Counter/ Prescription Medication Detoxification


Sleeping pills can be both physically and psychologically addictive. Those that abuse sleeping pills or any over the counter medication can easily become dependent on these drugs—sometimes an addiction can be developed within a few weeks.


A dependency to over the counter medication can be difficult to stop because the user’s body will become dependent on them to function. If they quit taking sleeping pills, they’ll experience withdrawal as their body tries to readjust.


Withdrawal symptoms from over the counter and sleeping pills can be powerful. Some symptoms can be life-threatening if left untreated by a medical specialist. During a medical detox, specialists will monitor the withdrawals to check vital signs and address any health concerns that may occur.


For example, excessive vomiting or diarrhoea (common over the counter medication withdrawal symptoms) can lead to dehydration. In some cases, the doctor might suggest the administration of an intravenous (IV) fluids to help balance electrolytes and  give the body a replenishment of lost nutrition’s.


Medical detox is not only the safest way but the most effective for someone to detox from sleeping pills or any other addictive drug available from over the counter.


Common sleeping pill and over the counter medication withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Body spasms
  • Insomnia
  • Delirium
  • Anxiety
  • Drug cravings
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hand tremors
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting


GHB & Ketamine Detoxication


Withdrawal symptoms from ketamine are largely psychological in nature. Heavy dependent users have experienced physical withdrawal symptoms, but these have not been scientifically proven. Psychological withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous. The most dangerous is depression, which can lead to an increased suicide risk.


Withdrawal from ketamine could last anywhere from 72 hours to several weeks. It is not commonly life-threatening, however, can be uncomfortable. How long it lasts is determined by the number of drugs in the addict’s body, tolerance levels, length of dependency, and if they’ve also been using other illicit substances.


The most common ketamine withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Shakes
  • Hearing loss
  • Confusion
  • Psychosis, including delusion and hallucination
  • Loss of motor skills
  • Decrease in respiratory and cardiac functions
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Rage
  • Nausea


Due to withdrawing from GHB it can result in severe withdrawal symptoms, medically supervised detoxification is characteristically advised by all addiction specialists. Withdrawal from GHB is common in cases of severe dependence, and most detoxification stays are between 7 to 14 days.


One of the aspects of GHB withdrawal treatment could involve the use of other drugs to help alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal. Benzodiazepines are commonly used, particularly to help sedate anyone exhibiting substantial agitation or psychotic symptoms. Due to the nature of these drugs used for detoxification also being addictive, they should only ever be used under medical supervision.


Other drugs to support detoxification are anticonvulsants and antihypertensive medications sometimes used during GHB withdrawal treatment. As these drugs have very little or no addictive nature, they are stereotypically favoured over benzodiazepines. However, even though they are not addictive, they should also only be used under the supervision of trained medical professionals.





An intense craving for marijuana is the most common marijuana withdrawal symptoms. Irritability, anxiety, and restlessness may occur during marijuana withdrawal. The severity of these withdrawal symptoms will depend on the length of time a person has been on the drug. Some people may not even have any marijuana withdrawal symptoms when they quit using it.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Stomach pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia


While some can safely detox from marijuana off their own back, it is proven that the best outcome is under supervision with a doctor, as they’re able to prescribe medications to help reduce withdrawal symptoms.


For example, metoclopramide or promethazine will help with nausea and vomiting. Headaches or muscle aches can be alleviated with paracetamol or ibuprofen. It is always important to get a consultation with addiction specialists about how to best treat withdrawal symptoms.


The duration of withdrawal from marijuana can be different for everyone. For most dependent marijuana users, withdrawal symptoms can start on the first day after quitting and peak within 48 to 72 hours. Symptoms generally last no longer than two to three weeks and dissipate over time with professional support.



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Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazapam (vailium)

Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Nalmefene
  • Acamprosate (campral)

Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

*based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

Local treatment

Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

Treatment Away

Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0330 088 9518.

There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.