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What Happens During Detox From Drugs And Alcohol?

what happens during detox

Addiction is a major problem in practically every country in the world. Whether it be to alcohol, prescription medication, or any other substance, addiction, or substance abuse disorder, will inevitably lead to the progressive deterioration of the mind and body of the user, and in many instances, death by overdose or complication.

There are those, however, who can kick the habit by undergoing rehabilitation in a detox facility. The first step to rehabilitation is medical detox, which is the process where toxins built up over time from abusing substances are flushed out of a person’s body to prepare them before treatment and recovery begin.

As anyone who has gone through it will attest, what happens during detox is anything but pleasant. It is, however, necessary, because no amount of rehabilitation will work if the person continues to take the substance they are addicted to.

This process has proven to be beneficial in helping lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms, stop cravings, and prevent the urge to use. However, it’s important to state, that relapse during recovery, especially in the early stages and after treatment is very common. At Legends Recovery Of Ohio, we provide our patients with treatment plans and relapse prevention techniques to fit their specific needs, to maximize the chance of long-term sobriety and recovery.

What Is Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT)?

Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT) in OhioMedication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a process used in helping a person through withdrawal and well into the rehabilitation period. There are specific withdrawal symptoms and adverse reactions that come out after detox that could not only be immensely uncomfortable but even outright debilitating or life-threatening.

Some substances are extremely difficult to kick, and the intense urge could only be managed with the use of medications that help dull the craving. This is a far more humane approach than the earlier practice of having to restrain the person in bed as the intense craving becomes agonizingly strong. In other instances, seizures occur as the system, having become used to the presence of the substance, reacts to its absence.

This treatment is only done within the confines of a rehabilitation center and detox drugs are administered only by specialists trained in the process. It is also done in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapy, as the period between detox and rehab is characterized by persistent confusion and great urges to take substances once more.

MAT is also strictly done only in rehab centers to ensure that the detox medications used do not promote a new kind of dependence, as many patients tend to substitute one substance for another only to find something to give them any kind of high they could get. There are reports that the mere act of administering a substance into the body, whether orally or intravenously could create a placebo effect for the patient, as they look for the familiar motions of taking substances.

What Happens During Detox?

To fully understand and appreciate what happens when you detox, there is a need to understand why a person needs to undergo medical detox first. Medical detox is necessary because, in many cases of substance dependence, the body has gotten to a point where a sudden stop in taking the substance could have an adverse effect.

During drug and alcohol detox, the person will start to experience the unpleasant effects of withdrawal. Depending upon several factors, this period where withdrawal is experienced could last anywhere from many days to a few months. These factors include:

  • Type of substance used
  • Duration of substance abuse
  • Method of substance use
  • Quantity of substance
  • Medical history
  • Genetic predisposition, particularly tolerance and threshold

As the term suggests, medical detox needs to be done in the presence of specialists who know what to do during this phase, as there are people who manifest increasingly adverse reactions to the stoppage of substance use. In some cases, hospitalization is needed, which is why it is highly advised that drug detox be done in a rehab facility, particularly if the person has been abusing substances for quite some time.

Some substances create profound changes in the body’s system when they are abused. Some substances target the central nervous system, and consequence, affect other parts of the body as well. These changes may cause complications when the person suddenly stops using the substance, which is why there is a need for a greater understanding of what happens when you detox.

Commonly Abused Substances That Require Detox

Different substances will necessarily cause different withdrawal symptoms when the person stops taking the substances. The severity and duration of the withdrawal symptoms will also largely depend on how long the person had been abusing the substances, and how much damage has already been done to the body.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Some of the more commonly abused substances come with the following withdrawal symptoms:


  • Profuse sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tachycardia (abnormally fast heart rate)
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors and tics
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased chance of grand mal seizures

In extreme cases, severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms sometimes referred to as delirium tremens syndrome, have been known to manifest, including:

  • Extreme agitation
  • Fever
  • Vivid and lasting hallucinations
  • Severe confusion or disorientation
  • Seizures


  • Muscle pain
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes
  • Profuse sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe melancholy akin to depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vision problems

Opiates are known to affect a person’s ability to think clearly and stay conscious, which is why it is important to ensure that any kind of detox that is done on someone who uses opiates is done within a detox facility to ensure safety.


  • Tremors and tics
  • Anxiety
  • Chills
  • Dehydration
  • Impaired senses
  • Slurred or slowed speech
  • Slowed movement
  • Impaired reaction time
  • Impaired cognition
  • Bradycardia (slowed heart rate)
  • Increased irritability
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Fluctuating appetite
  • Fluctuating weight
  • Impaired memory
  • Unexplained body aches
  • Vivid dreams or nightmares
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia

The use of stimulants for a long will affect a person’s ability to move normally. In severe cases, uncontrollable twitching and even chronic seizures occur. This necessitates the presence of medically trained personnel to be on hand to help mitigate the effects.


  • Abdominal cramping
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Increased sensory sensitivity
  • Loss of libido
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Mild to moderate depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Restlessness
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Sore tongue
  • Lingering metallic taste in the mouth
  • Tinnitus (persistent ringing in the ears)
  • Profuse sweating
  • Tachycardia (abnormally fast heart rate)
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures


  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Headaches
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Profuse sweating or cold sweats
  • Chills
  • Varying degrees of depression
  • Irritable stomach

Medical detox for substance abuse in Green SpringsThese are just a few of the symptoms that come out during detox associated with popularly used substances. In some cases, the symptoms could be so severe that hospitalization could be needed. Others require medication assistance to help manage the more debilitating symptoms.

Considering that these tend to come out soon after the person stops taking the substance, it is quite obvious why it would be best to not do self-detox at home, as the results could be unpredictable and unmanageable. In extreme cases, medication-assisted treatment could be necessary, and even life-saving.

Learn More About What Happens During Detox

There is never a better time to start your journey toward recovery if you are battling addiction. Our team of medical professionals at Legends Recovery Center of Ohio understands how crucial it is to go through withdrawals in a secure, encouraging environment.

To learn more about the detox process, and how we can help you overcome substance abuse through comprehensive care and treatment, contact us today.

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