Drug & Alcohol Detox Services

Drug Detoxification: Everything You Need to Know

Drug detox programs and medically managed withdrawal can be a safe and effective way to begin your recovery journey.

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Signs and Symptoms of Drug Detox and Withdrawal 

Depending on the substances of abuse, withdrawal can vary significantly from person to person. Some drugs can cause more severe detox symptoms than others, especially when more than one substance is being abused.

Drugs That Cause Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • alcohol
  • opioids
  • stimulants 
  • sedatives and sleeping medications

Symptoms and Side Effects of Withdrawal 

The process of drug detox can be painful and potentially dangerous. This is why medical detox is vital. Although medical detox helps relieve withdrawal symptoms, some are unavoidable. 

Here is a list of common withdrawal symptoms to look for by drug type: 


  • nausea and vomiting 
  • anxiety 
  • insomnia
  • excessive sweating 
  • rapid pulse
  • repetitive movements
  • hand tremors
  • hallucinations or illusions 
  • confusion 
  • seizures 
  • Delirium tremens (DTs)

Opioids (heroin, prescription painkillers):

  • muscle and body aches
  • goosebumps
  • fever
  • increased sweating
  • nausea and vomiting 
  • diarrhea
  • watery eyes and runny nose 
  • excessive yawning 
  • anxiety 
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • depressed mood

Stimulants (cocaine, meth, Adderall, and more):

  • nightmares 
  • fatigue
  • insomnia or hypersomnia 
  • increased appetite 
  • impaired movements 
  • brain fog
  • Anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure 
  • depression 
  • suicidal ideation or behavior

Sedatives (Xanax, Ativan, and more) and sleeping medications (Ambien):

  • anxiety 
  • insomnia 
  • elevated pulse rate 
  • excess sweating
  • nausea and vomiting 
  • purposeless movements, such as pacing or wringing hands 
  • illusions or hallucinations 
  • tremors 
  • seizures

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Types of Drug Detoxification Programs 

Because there are many different substances and combinations of abuse, there are an equal variety of drug detox program types. No one detox program fits every situation, so it is vital to consider your situation and what would help most. 

Rapid and Ultra-Rapid Detox Programs

A rapid detox program is when a person with a substance use disorder (SUD) is sedated with anesthesia and given medications that replace the drugs in their body. This detox model was initially intended for people with opioid addictions. There are quite a few risks associated with rapid and ultra-rapid detox programs that often outweigh the benefits. 

Rapid detox programs can cause: 

  • heart attacks
  • paranoia 
  • high body temperature
  • infection 
  • nausea and vomiting 
  • choking 
  • potential death

While ultra-rapid detoxes claim only to take a few hours, about 1 in 500 people die from this procedure, according to the Coleman Institute. These detox programs are often not covered by insurance and can be upwards of $8,000. 

Non-Medical or Social Detox Programs

A social detox is a non-medical form of detox that involves a person stopping the use of drugs entirely while under the care of treatment professionals. The social treatment model involves professionals who provide patients with emotional and psychological support throughout the detox process. These programs often do not administer medications to manage symptoms or complications and cannot do so. 

While this detox program can work well for those withdrawing from psychoactive substances, it will present some challenges. There is potential for unpleasant withdrawal syndrome, and it can be challenging to overcome without medications to help ease the symptoms. As a result, the urge to relapse may be stronger during this type of program. 

One primary risk associated with a relapse is the potential to overdose. If someone goes through a period of abstinence from a substance and then starts at the same dose they quit at, they are likely to experience an overdose that could be potentially fatal. 

Dangers of Improper Detox 

Many people may consider the programs above or even think about detoxing alone at home. Drug detox has many risks, and it can be hard to tell what you will experience without the proper medical background. 

Dangers of an improper detox include: 

  • psychosis
  • severe pain 
  • suicidal thoughts and actions 
  • in some cases, death

Medically Supervised Drug Detox Process: What to Expect 

The drug detox process helps people with substance use disorders receive personalized treatment. Everyone’s needs during detox will be different. Typically there are three steps to the detox process: 

Step One: Evaluation 

A medical team will screen incoming patients for physical and mental health concerns. Doctors and nurses will use blood tests to measure the amount of drugs in a patient’s system. These tests help determine the treatment plan and medications that may be needed. 

During this step, there is also a comprehensive review of medical, drug, and psychological histories. This is a crucial step in ensuring the patient receives appropriate long-term treatment. 

Step Two: Stabilization 

The main goal of stabilization is to prevent harm to the patient. Depending on the drug abuse, this step can last between three days and several weeks. During this time, patients are stabilized using a combination of medical and psychological therapies. 

An assigned medical team will prescribe addiction treatment medications to prevent complications and reduce the severity of any withdrawal symptoms. 

Step Three: Preparing for Treatment

The last step in the detox process is to prepare for treatment. If your situation requires a detox, your best chance of successful recovery is to continue with an inpatient treatment program

How Long Does Drug Detox Take? 

The length of detox will depend on several factors, including: 

  • The severity of the substance abuse. 
  • How many substances are being abused. 
  • The length of time substances have been abused. 
  • If there is a co-occurring mental health disorder. 

Drug Detox During Pregnancy

Being pregnant can increase the desire to get clean and quit drugs. Drinking alcohol or consuming drugs during pregnancy can cause harm to the baby and the mother. Detoxing, especially sudden detox, can cause severe stress to the baby and cause preterm labor or severe fetal disease. 

Medical detox is an absolute must for pregnant women to prevent loss of life for themselves and their babies.

Important Drug Detox Questions

While choosing a medical detox program, it’s essential to consider the following questions: 

1. Are you abusing more than one substance?

Abusing more than one drug at a time can complicate the detox process. Be honest with your care provider and choose a detox center that is experienced in helping people come off of multiple substances at a time.

2. Are you experiencing a co-occurring mental health disorder?

Co-occurring mental health disorders require another layer of care that may not be provided at all treatment centers. If you struggle with depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue, be sure to be upfront about it when enrolling in a treatment program.

3. How severe is the addiction?

If your addiction is severe enough, it will likely require a medically supervised detox program followed by an inpatient program.

4. Is there insurance coverage for treatment?

Substance abuse treatment programs fall under the mental health category when insurance is involved. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most individual and small group health insurance plans are mandated to provide some mental health coverage. But not all addiction treatment centers accept insurance. If you or your loved one has health insurance, it is best to start by seeing which treatment centers will take your insurance plan.  

Find Help Today

Know that you are not alone. There are hundreds of detox programs to choose from, which can make the decision feel overwhelming. The addiction specialists at Desert Rose Detox Center are available to talk by calling (844) 427-3509 or requesting information online.




Trusted Addiction Treatment

At Desert Rose, drug and alcohol detox is only the beginning. We offer a complete addiction treatment program here. Unlike most Florida rehabs, we feature all 5 primary ASAM levels of care you need within a single program.

Desert Rose Detox has earned Joint Commission Accreditation. We also enjoy membership in NAATP, state licensing and are associated with certified recovery residences (FARR).

Nationally Recognized and Fully Accredited, Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment Centers

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