Drug Detox – What Is It Like?

If you have been addicted to drugs for a long time but are now ready to get clean, you will probably be advised to detox before beginning any other treatment. Many drug addicts are fearful of addiction detox because they will have heard stories of this process and how painful it can be. For many, it is the fear of detox that prevents them from getting the help they need.

Detox is the process of eliminating drugs from the body, and while it is never a pleasant process, it can be made more bearable with the help of medically-trained staff in a supervised facility. It is generally recommended that detox is carried out in a facility as opposed to the home as it is safer and more comfortable for the addict. The reality is that some individuals do experience severe withdrawal symptoms, but there is no way of knowing who will suffer from these symptoms before the process begins.

Drug detox is different for everyone and will depend on the type of drugs that were abused as well as the length of time the person was addicted. Below we have listed a few of the more common withdrawal symptoms expected with various drugs.

Stimulant Drugs

Stimulant drugs include cocaine, methamphetamines and crack, and many addicts often use sedatives such as alcohol or sedative drugs with stimulants to counteract the effects of these. Those who are detoxing from drugs like cocaine may start to notice withdrawal symptoms around nine hours after their last fix. Symptoms are likely to include severe depression, agitation, loss of appetite and a strong craving for more cocaine. Depression will continue over the next couple of days combined with fatigue. Insomnia is common, despite extreme fatigue. Sleep patterns tend to return to normal within a week and anxiety levels drop. However, cravings can last for many weeks.

Those detoxing from methamphetamines might begin to notice withdrawal symptoms between twenty-four and thirty-six hours after their last fix. Symptoms generally include anxiety, depression, mood swings, fatigue, and paranoia. Intense cravings are common and like withdrawal from cocaine can last for weeks or months.


Opioid drugs include heroin, methadone, and opioid prescription medication such as oxycodone and tramadol. Detox from opioids can be severe, with many addicts becoming manipulative and demanding when cravings take hold. Withdrawal symptoms generally start around eight to sixteen hours after the last dose, and mild symptoms include anxiety, sweating, runny nose, yawning and restlessness. As withdrawal progresses, symptoms can include dilated pupils, goose bumps, leg cramps, muscle twitching and loss of appetite. Patients may become irritable and suffer from insomnia. More severe symptoms include fever, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. Most of these symptoms will subside within seven to ten days.


Hallucinogens include marijuana, LSD, and some legal highs. Withdrawal from hallucinogens usually includes anxiety, irritability, depression, paranoia and flashbacks. With some legal highs, the effects of the drug can last for a long time and, in some people, these drugs cause permanent personality changes.

Detoxing Safely

It is important for detox to be carried out in a safe environment where access to medical support is on hand. There are many detox facilities throughout the UK where experienced professionals will take care of ensuring that you are comfortable and safe during the process.

Eliminating drugs from your system is important before you begin a programme of rehabilitation. In many instances, a rehab centre will have detox facilities and will tailor a treatment plan for you to include this process.

If you need help for drug addiction, contact Addiction Helper today. We can provide you with information on how to access the treatment you need to kick your addiction.

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