Everything You Need To Know About Substance Use Detox
Detox is the first step in treating substance use disorders—and can be the difference between life and death
July 1, 2023
Addiction is one of the biggest challenges facing society today. Countless people are turning to substances, including prescription medications and alcohol, to cope with stress, trauma, and symptoms of common disorders, such as depression.
There is massive stigma around addiction, whether someone is trying to quit or is still using a substance. Because of this, many people feel like failures for either using or not being able to quit on their own.
But there is hope—detox is proven to work and can be the first major step toward recovery.
Keep Reading To Learn
- What is detox
- How to know if you or someone you care about needs to detox
- What happens during and after the detox process
What Is Substance Detox?
Detox is the process of removing a specific substance from your body. If your body is addicted to a substance, it has been conditioned to believe it requires it to survive.
If you start to limit use of a specific substance, you may start to develop serious withdrawal symptoms. This is one of the most common reasons people relapse quickly after they attempt to get clean and/or sober.
How Does Detox Work?
The detoxification process can take on different forms depending on the substance involved. For example, detox for opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol each vary in length. Depending on the substance, it can take several days or several months for the body to be rid of a substance.
In addition, the length and severity of a detoxification period can be impacted by the following:
- What substance(s) were used and if there was more than one
- The frequency of substance use and how much was being taken at a time
- If the person detoxing has other co-occurring illnesses, including mental health conditions
- The person’s medical history
- The person’s age and gender
Establishing a detoxification program requires specific steps, and going through detox by oneself can be difficult and life-threatening.
It’s important to work with an experienced medical professional who can tailor the process to meet a person’s specific needs. Trained professionals, starting with a person’s physician, have experience helping patients work through the symptoms that accompany detox.