Drug Detox

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John Gillen - Last Updated: February 6, 2023

Last reviewed: March 31, 2022 by Dr Alexander Lapa. All information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

There is no quick fix for drug addiction and no easy method to kick the habit. Drug detox and drug rehab is the only way to deal with this life-destroying problem, but it requires a great deal of support from a medical professional or rehab expert.


What is drug detox?

Drug DetoxDrug detox is essentially the managed termination of drug consumption. In clinical terms, drug detoxification is the process whereby the drugs that you have consumed are purged from your body. This is not a pleasant experience, especially if you are a long-term or heavy drug user.

Habitual drug use alters the chemicals in your brain, making the body dependent on your drug of choice and when you stop taking those drugs your body will experience withdrawal symptoms. Physical withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to intense, depending on the duration and seriousness of your addiction to drugs or alcohol and the type of drugs that you take.


What is medical detox?

Many drug addicts attempt to detox by going cold turkey. This can be extremely dangerous and, in most cases, medical detox is a necessary part of a successful treatment plan. When you join an inpatient detox program you will be under constant medical supervision and may receive prescription drugs like Buprenorphine and Naltrexone to reduce the physical withdrawal symptoms.

Many addicts who enter drug detox are addicted to opiates and detoxing cold turkey can have serious side effects and lead to long-term health problems. When you detox from opiates, it is important to be under medical care so that a doctor can prescribe partial opiate agonists (like Buprenorphine) to suppress the debilitating withdrawal symptoms.

Tapering off opiates allows you to engage in therapy, counselling and support group sessions and prevent recurring relapses. The minimum inpatient opiate detox takes at least two weeks, with or without medical intervention and prescription drugs, but your detox could take longer, depending on the length and severity of your opiate addiction.


What to expect during drug detox?

There are a number of treatment options available to addicts but drug detox is a challenge even for the most committed patient. Because your body is physically addicted to drugs you can’t just expect to go cold turkey and walk away cured.

Drug detox does not work like that and it takes ongoing support from dedicated family members, medical professionals, and treatment facility staff to truly break the habit and live a healthy life. Before you enter a drug detox treatment program it is important to know what to expect. When you know what is going to happen, you will be better prepared to deal with the mental, physical and emotional side effects of withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person and will depend on the number and type of drugs that you are addicted to, the severity of your addiction, the existence of co-occurring physical or mental health disorders, the half-life of the drugs you take as well as the level and frequency of your drug use.

The most difficult part of drug detox is the first 48 hours or two days. The first symptoms of withdrawal typically take five to ten hours to manifest and this is when the symptoms will be at their worst. If you are an inpatient at a drug or alcohol rehab clinic and under medical supervision, you will most likely be given medication to ease the symptoms during this time.

Withdrawal symptoms during drug detox include:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia, fatigue and lethargy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fevers, chills, shaking and sweating
  • Irritability, agitation and mood swings
  • Increased heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite, gastrointestinal and digestive problems
  • Intense Cravings
  • Confusion, disorientation and hallucinations
  • Muscle weakness or muscle pain
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Uncontrollable muscle spasms in legs
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Flu-like symptoms, including a runny nose and watering eyes

Certain drugs are only psychologically addictive but other drugs are physically addictive and when you detox there will be no escaping the physical withdrawal symptoms. During drug detox, the treatment facility staff will ensure that all your medical and clinical requirements are met and that your detox is safe and as comfortable as possible. You will be closely monitored and supervised at all times to ensure that your body can cope with the withdrawal symptoms.



Are you suffering from Drug Addiction and need help? If so, Rehab Clinics Group are leading UK based experts in drug detoxification and rehabilitation treatment. Find out how we can help by getting in touch with our friendly team today. Call our confidential helpline on 0800 470 0382 or request a callback by clicking on the button below.

Contact Us


Where can I get Detox?

We have a network of rehab centres based all around the UK so we can find a detoxification close to your location or further away. Sometimes people benefit from travelling away from their local environment as regular habits can seem more distant.

On other cases people may wish to remain close by and have visits from family members for additional support. Some of our most recommended rehabs to complete detoxification include:


Is detox dangerous?

It can be very dangerous to undergo Detoxification at home without the correct support.  Your addiction type, how low long you have been addicted to the substance and accompanying health and mental health considerations all need to be taken into account.

All detoxifications at our rehab centres are undertaken with 24 hour observation and support by our trained clinicians and therapists. If you have serious side effects it can be very dangerous, this is why each detoxification is tailored around your specific circumstances.

We have the correct medications at hand to see you through the detoxification process as side effects can vary from person to person.


What medications are available during detox?

Due to alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms that are experienced during detoxification, we are able to prescribe medications to help manage the symptoms experienced.

Medications we are able to prescribe include:

  • Buprenorphine – The medication comes in the form of a tablet that is usually placed under the tongue until it dissolves. It is primarily used to treat opioid addiction.
  • NaltrexoneShort for Naltrexone Hydrochloride, can be taken by mouth or injected into a muscle and is commonly prescribed as part of a comprehensive recovery programme for alcoholism and drug addiction.
  • Lofexidine – Typically used in the treatment of heroin, methadone and opiate addiction to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
  • Methadone – The medication blocks the high you get from heroin to reduce the craving for the drug. This helps the patient to slowly overcome the urge to take the drug and soon they become less dependent on it.
  • Mirtazapine – Effective detox medication used to treat addictive conditions such as alcohol addiction, opiate addiction, marijuana addiction, cocaine addiction, and Benzodiazepine addiction.
  • Clonidine – Widely used to treat withdrawals from opioid and alcohol addiction. Almost all rehab clinics now offer clonidine medication as part of their detox treatment.


Drug Detox Treatment Options

There are a number of inpatient and outpatient detox options available to help you kick your habit. During inpatient detox, you will live in a rehab clinic and receive round the clock supervision, support and medical care. If you choose outpatient detox, you will be treated at home but this is often not as effective as inpatient treatment because you are not removed from the environment that has enabled your drug abuse and you will still be surrounded by the usual triggers and temptations. Medically assisted detox is also not possible as an outpatient because you need to be under constant medical supervision during this time. Relapsing is more common with people who choose the outpatient detox option and your chances of success are far higher when you take part in a residential or inpatient drug detox treatment program.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health

There is often a direct link between substance abuse and mental health issues. Many people who suffer from mental health problems are more suspectable to addiction and will resort to substance abuse in an attempt to alleviate their symptoms. The detoxification process can be extremely traumatic and may exacerbate any underlying mental health disorders. If you suffer from mental health issues or have a family history of mental health disorders, it is essential to inform the rehab facility before you begin your treatment so that they can take the necessary steps to factor this into your drug detox treatment plan.


Why Choose Rehab Clinics Group For Drug Detox? Asana Lodge

If you are looking for a reliable drug detox provider then consider Rehab Clinics Group, we have access to CQC approved clinics across the UK that employ addiction recovery workers that are trained in proving medically assisted detoxification programmes.

The process of drug detox can be difficult with many individuals experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms through the duration of the programme, this is why having access to 24-hour care that is available at all our centres is absolutely essential.

All our staff have been trained to spot withdrawal symptoms that could result in causing harm to individuals this is why you are monitored 24/7 so any signs of severe withdrawal symptoms can be seen by the addiction recovery worker who will either give you prescription medication or have you sent to the nearest hospital as a precaution. Either way, when detoxing at our local drug addiction treatment centres you can be sure you will be in safe hands.

As a group, we have helped thousands of individuals across the UK achieve long term recovery from drug addiction. No matter how severe your addiction is, our team of addiction recovery experts can provide the help you need to become free from the struggles of substance abuse.

Pick up the phone now and speak to our admissions team for more information.


Drug Addictions We Treat

Our CQC registered facilities treat a number of drug addictions which includes:

Please click on any of the above links to find out more about how we treat each drug as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation programme.


Drug detox is the first step on your road to recovery

At the Rehab Clinics Group, we recognise that drug detox on its own is not enough to ensure long-term recovery. A drug detoxification treatment plan is designed to treat your physical symptoms, but you will also need counselling and therapy to break your habit. Contact us today so that we can support you on your road to recovery.


Drug Detox FAQ’s

Here is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about drug detox.

  • Can I Detox On My Own?

    If you are suffering from an addiction then it is strongly advised that you do not detox without the correct medical supervision.
  • How Long Does A Typically Drug Detox Take?

    Typical drug detox programmes will take up to 10 days depending on the severity of your dependency to drugs. It is for this reason that many centres will not accept any less than a 7-day admission for a detox as any less time could jeopardise its success.
  • What Happens After Detox?

    If you are undertaking a typical drug rehab programme, once you have completed your detox you will then move onto therapy sessions and one to one counselling to help you gain control over the addictive mind.
  • Are Medications Used In Detox?

    Yes, medications can be used in detox depending on the severity of your drug withdrawal symptoms. Some of the medications our addiction recovery workers can prescribe you during your stay includes; Buprenorphine, Naltrexone, Lofexidine
  • When Does It Become Necessary To Receive Drug Detox?

    If you have become dependent to a drug then the need for drug detox is absolutely necessary as it is the first step that needs to be taken to stop your dependency, with therapy techniques and therapy being the latter stages of addiction recovery.
  • What Is The Most Severe Withdrawal Symptoms?

    There are several severe withdrawal symptoms that can occur during detox but the most severe is considered to be seizures which can result in death. This is why being monitored at all times is incredibly important during a detox.
Picture of John Gillen

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: February 6, 2023

John Gillen is a leading addiction recovery expert with over 15 years of experience in his field. He also co-authored the best-selling book "The Secret Disease of Addiction".

Dr Alexander Lapa - Psychiatrist & Clinical Reviewer for Rehab Clinics Group

Dr Alexander Lapa - Clinical Reviewer - Last reviewed: March 31, 2022

MBBS, PG Dip Clin Ed, OA Dip CBT, OA Dip Psychology, SCOPE Certified

Dr Lapa graduated in Medicine in 2000 and since this time has accrued much experience working in the widest range of psychiatric settings with differing illness presentations and backgrounds in inpatient, community and secure settings. This has been aligned to continuation of professional development at postgraduate level in clinical research which has been very closely related to the everyday clinical practice conducted by this practitioner as a NHS and Private Psychiatrist.
He is fully indemnified by the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) and MIAB Expert Insurance for Psychiatric and Private Medical practice. He is fully registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) in the UK with a licence to practice.

Dr Lapa is approved under Section 12(2) of the Mental Health Act (1983)

Member of Independent Doctors Federation (IDF), British Association for Psychopharmacology (BMA) and The Association for the Study of Obesity (ASO)

Dr Lapa’s extensive experience has also concentrated on the following areas of clinical practice:
– Assessment, Diagnosis and Pharmacological Treatment for Adults with ADHD.
– Drug and Alcohol Dependency and maintaining abstinence and continued recovery
– Intravenous and Intramuscular Vitamin and Mineral Infusion Therapy
– Dietary and Weight Management and thorough care from assessment to treatment to end goals and maintenance
– Aesthetic Practice and Procedures