Addiction messes with the body system, the central nervous system, more specifically, the brain. When the body becomes dependent on the addicted drug, quitting brings about withdrawal symptoms.

Drug detox ensures a safe, regulated, and supportive environment for people suffering from severe addiction. Additionally, it’s the initial step toward a long-term and fulfilling recovery. Here, we’ll provide an exhaustive guide to drug detox — what you need to know, symptoms and treatment methods to expect

What is Drug Detox?

Drug detox, also known as drug detoxification, is naturally eliminating a substance from the body. It refers to a set of strict measures and processes to help with withdrawal.

Additionally, the approach to drug detox varies depending on the services provided by different drug centres. During the process of drug detox, the body eliminates every trace of the addicted drug.

The abrupt halt in the use of drugs, also known as detoxing cold turkey, can be deadly. It’s capable of causing medical issues ranging from seizures to death. Severe results of going cold turkey are common with alcohol addiction. Also, detoxing from benzodiazepines like Xanax or Klonopin without medical supervision is dangerous.

Patients detoxing from drugs will experience either of these:

  • Change in their moods such as anxiety, agitation, mood swings, and depression
  • Intense craving for the addicted drug
  • Changes in their body such as runny nose, headaches, shaking and nausea

The drug detox process requires medication-assisted treatment because the process can be emotionally and physically challenging. The prescriptions will be specific and depend on:

  • Patient’s medical history
  • Drugs in the patient’s system

Drug detox programs provide:

  • Professional behaviour technicians
  • Nurses
  • Therapists
  • Psychiatrists

Medical personnel provide treatment, assistance, and monitoring 24 hours, all the days of the week.  Likewise, during this time, patients have little to no contact with the outside world. Drug detoxification may occur in a variety of settings. These settings include:

  • Hospitals, physician’s offices
  • Private, self-contained detox centres
  • Publicly-funded detox centres

Patients need a guide to drug detox for their emotional and physical health. Also, patients can benefit from a combination of peer and professional support. Getting support from loved ones helps them to retrace their steps during this challenging time.

Related Article: How Do You Neutralize Drugs in Your Body

What to Expect During Drug Detox

One common question patients ask before detoxing is, “what happens during drug detox?” They are often told to expect lots of medications as it’s a painful process. Having a guide to drug detox can prepare you for withdrawal symptoms. Sadly, withdrawal symptoms are inevitable and quite hard to bear.

However, with medical and psychological experts and support from your loved ones, you’d scale through. Below are some of the things to expect during drug detox.

Medical examinations and evaluation

The first thing to expect when you opt-in for a medically assisted detox is a medical evaluation. Medical assessments help doctors to understand the patient’s medical needs.

During your medical evaluation, the medical professional will get every important health information. Also, doctors may ask patients about family medical history, previous illnesses and details of their addiction.

After your medical evaluation, the medical professional will create a custom detox plan for you. Again, it’s important to be sincere with your drug use disorder to avoid issues during detox.

Withdrawal symptoms

Any guide to drug detox is incomplete without withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are a result of patients reducing the amount of drug consumption.

A patient who has been addicted to drugs for years is likely to experience severe withdrawal systems. In comparison, a patient who’s newly addicted to a particular drug may have mild withdrawal symptoms.

Furthermore, depending on the type of drug a patient is addicted to, their withdrawal symptoms differ. Withdrawal comes in different psychological and physical symptoms. Here are some common psychological withdrawal symptoms


  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Severe mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Lack of concentration
  • Increased craving for the addicted substance

Physical withdrawal symptoms include,

  • Shivering and shaking
  • Runny nose or flu-like symptoms
  • Vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea
  • Sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Chills and high temperature
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Bone or muscle pain.

In more severe cases, patients can experience

  • Delirium
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations


Owing to the nature of withdrawal symptoms, patients will take medications to alleviate their pain. In addition, medications help the patient to properly control their symptoms, preventing them from escalating.

Although many patients detest withdrawal because of the pains, there are no medications to prevent every withdrawal symptom. However, there are medications to counteract many symptoms associated with withdrawal.

For instance, medical personnel will administer antidepressants to patients experiencing depression. Also, it’s common for patients to consume medications like methadone. These medications make the withdrawal process more bearable.

Outpatient and Inpatient drug detox programs

Having a guide to drug detox is essential because detox is the first step in the recovery process. Patients suffering from a Substance Use Disorder (SUD) need detox to quit their addiction. However, detoxing alone or without medical supervision can lead to fatalities.

One tip for safe drug detox is to opt for medication-assisted treatment. Medications During detox helps patients survive severe withdrawal symptoms. Likewise, It improves their chances of completing an inpatient or outpatient rehab program.

Inpatient drug detox programs

An inpatient is someone admitted into the hospital for supervision and care. Usually overnight or more, depending on the severity of the illness.

Inpatient care is provided to people whose medical condition necessitates their admission to a hospital. Patients are admitted to a hospital only when their illness is critical, or they have suffered significant physical injuries.

An inpatient drug detox program provides supervision and monitoring 24 hours a day all through the week. An inpatient rehab program is the highest level of care available.

Additionally, medical treatments involving the use of medication are administered by doctors to help with withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient rehab is a residential treatment facility where patients stay for a certain duration of time.

Furthermore, the duration of time is based on their treatment plan. Although most addiction treatment clinics offer longer programs, the average stay is 30 days. However, the length of treatment is determined by several factors. These factors include,

  • The severity of the addiction
  • The presence of any co-occurring mental health issues
  • Whether or not the individual has previously completed treatment.

Family programs are available in most inpatient facilities. This enables members of the patient’s family to participate in family counselling and activities.

It also gives you the chance to rebuild trust and uncover dysfunctions that may cause relapse. Active involvement in the recovery of a loved one shows the person love, support, and encouragement.

Inpatient residential facilities have their own set of facilities, and they vary from one centre to another. Some are simple, with communal dormitories, cafeteria-style meals, and ping-pong as recreational activities. Other facilities may provide exclusive luxury suites with various amenities such as a pool and a spa.

Outpatient drug detox programs

An Outpatient is a patient who is not admitted to the hospital for some time, ranging from a night to a couple of days. However, the patient attends a hospital, clinic, or other related facilities for diagnosis or treatment.

Also, outpatient drug detox patients commute to the centre from their homes. Coming from their houses allows them to balance recovery with school and work needs.

The outpatient type of detox is the least restrictive degree of care. Least restrictive means that it can take place in day hospital programs or physician offices. Unlike the inpatient drug detox program, it lasts less than a week. Also, outpatient drug detox is only prescribed for people with mild to moderate substance abuse problems.

Outpatient rehab programs provide drug therapy and support groups. Patients can attend these meetings any time during the week. However, they must check into treatment at their scheduled times for medicine and counselling.

Also, outpatient programs occur in a variety of styles. However, the main focus of outpatient drug detox programs is counselling and building a support system.

How Long Does Drug Detox Take?

The process of drug detox varies from person to person. For example, for a person with severe substance abuse disorder, drug detox may take longer. In the same vein, someone whose addiction isn’t severe may only stay a couple of days.

How long drug detox takes depends on two factors:

  • The process of detoxifying from substance abuse
  • The drug detoxification program

Detoxing from drugs entails eliminating the chemicals from the body and managing withdrawal symptoms that may arise. Detox could take any time from a couple of days to several months to complete the process.

For instance, alcohol leaves the body after a few days. However, drug cravings may take a considerably longer time to detox.

Numerous factors determine the length of time it takes to detox:

  • The substance that is abused
  • If more than one substance is being abused
  • The gender of the patient
  • The age of the addicted patient
  • How frequently the patient consumed the substance
  • The amount of the substance consumed by the patient
  • The medical history of the patient
  • Existence of underlying co-occurring mental health disorders.

Drug detox programs in Ontario are intended to help people through the withdrawal process.

FAQs on Drug Detox

faqs on drug detox

Patients often have second thoughts about detox. And with doubt comes many questions. Because private addiction recovery programs are quite expensive, some patients want to know if insurance covers them. Also, some patients want to know if the detox process is a safe one.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions on drug detox.

Does health insurance cover drug detox?

In some states, patients have access to free drug detox programs. However, your insurance company and policy may determine whether or not insurance will cover your treatment.

What happens if a medical emergency occurs during detox?

The fundamental goal of medically-assisted drug detox is to reduce symptoms effectively and avert an emergency. However, If an emergency were to occur, doctors would be available to administer immediate medical treatment. Additionally, medical personnel will supervise such patients’ treatment and, if necessary, further follow-up care.

What are the benefits of a medical detox program?

Asides from being monitored by professional medical personnel, other benefits of medical detox include,

  • Safe environment
  • Availability of taper medications, if applicable
  • Medical supervision
  • Immediate medical stabilization, if necessary
  • Psychological support
  • A fresh start

What are the numerous types of detox drugs available?

Depending on the institution and the substance you’re detoxing from, detox medications available may differ. If you have a co-occurring mental health condition, the drugs depend on the treatment centre you choose. Several drugs to help manage mental health disorders may be available to you.

What happens next after detox?

Patients generally engage in several step-down programs after concluding the detoxification process. This step-down program is referred to as a continuation of the treatment.

Additionally, They may transfer to an inpatient, outpatient, or partial hospitalization program. However, their transfer solely depends on the severity of their addiction and their unique needs.

Related Article: Inpatient Drug Rehab Process

Final Thoughts

Preparing for drug detox can be a terrifying experience. Hence a guide to drug detox is necessary. You may be concerned about what to expect and uncertain of a life free of drugs. However, know that you are not alone in your feelings of uncertainty and dread.

This guide to drug detox prepares you for what lies ahead. It equips you better with the right information making your experience a familiar one. Also, bear in mind that recovery from addiction is not impossible, and assistance is accessible.

Since drug detox is just the first step, not the end, you should consider a long-term solution. Considering a drug rehabilitation centre with accredited and personalized treatment programs is important. At Medical Detox Toronto, we provide the best drug detox programs for patients. Check out our medical detox facility in Ontario.

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