Drug Detox Rehab: What You Need to Know

Drug Detox Rehab: What You Need to Know

Drug detoxification (detox) is the first step in any comprehensive rehabilitation (rehab) program. Detox allows for physiological healing following long-term drug abuse. Detox is the process of ridding the body of drugs. With the detox process, your body experiences uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which can be treated using medications.

Drug detox is just one portion of rehabilitation. Because addiction has both psychological and physical components, it is crucial that you undergo intensive counseling and therapy to learn how to manage urges, cravings, and triggers. We offer individual, family, and group counseling to safeguard against relapse and provide the social support you need to fully recover.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Different types of drugs mean varying sets of withdrawal symptoms. The specific withdrawal syndrome experienced by the addict varies from person-to-person. Withdrawal symptoms are related to the dose of the drug at the time you enter detoxification, the length of your addiction, the combination of drugs used/abused, and the existence of mental and physical conditions/disorders.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Sleep disturbances – Insomnia is common despite intense fatigue.
  • Mood disturbances – This includes irritability, anxiety, agitation, mood swings, and depression.
  • Physical effects – These may include sweating, chills, tremors, and flu-like illness with headaches, nausea, vomiting, and runny nose.
  • Intense cravings – The desire to use the drug continues, especially when withdrawal occurs.
  • Opioids and benzodiazepines – Withdrawal from these drugs can cause hallucinations, muscle/joint pain, and seizures.
  • Stimulants (cocaine and methamphetamine) – Withdrawal can lead to severe depression and suicidal thoughts/feelings.

Medications for Detox

Medications are very effective in assisting clients to safely stop using drugs. Many medicines address the changes in the brain that are related to chronic drug abuse. Other medications help stop urges and cravings for drugs. For some clients, these medicines mimic the action in the brain related to the drug of choice. This helps clients to avoid many withdrawal symptoms. Commonly used medications include:

  • Methadone – This drug is used for opiate addiction. It must be taken in the presence of a healthcare worker when used for addiction. Over time, clients can take home doses if this medication is to be continued after discharge from the rehabilitation center.


  • Buprenorphine – This medication is called Suboxone or Subutex, and it is the only FDA-approved medicine for opiate addiction. This medication has been shown to have antidepressant effects, which helps during rehab.


  • Naltrexone – Often used in combination with buprenorphine, naltrexone binds to the opiate receptor sites in the brain, blocking any opiate drug effects. This prevents addicts from receiving the desired “high.” Naltrexone is also effective for alcohol detox, and it reduces urges and cravings for opiates and alcohol.


  • Acamprosate – This drug can help with anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia, which are long-lasting withdraw symptoms associated with drug abuse.


First Hours of Drug Detox

The first hours of detoxification are the worse for most clients. Medical and psychiatric professionals are on hand to provide support and care. The urgent needs of the client are always addressed first. These problems include injury, psychosis, medical illness, and suicide attempts. Once these issues are addressed, the staff members can focus on addressing withdrawal symptoms.


Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBSHQ). 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2015.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS): 2013. Data on Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; 2014. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-489. BHSIS Series S-73.