What Detox Entails

Have you ever heard the term detoxification while reading about getting sober, but curious to learn more? In this article, we will explain what detoxification is and the process that it entails. 

Detoxification, also known as detox, is the process of removing toxins from the body. This generally refers to the amount of time and any assistance needed to clear your body of a drug that has been abused.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

At an inpatient facility where detox services are offered, medical staff works to monitor withdrawal symptoms and provide medication management and physical support. Withdrawal symptoms you may experience depend upon your drug of abuse. However, common symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure

These symptoms are potentially dangerous and thus require close monitoring for possible additional medical intervention. 

You must develop a knowledge of your overall health to maintain a balanced lifestyle in recovery. Any co-occurring illness will likely exacerbate problems in detoxification and recovery. This is why a long-term treatment plan is developed soon after detoxification (or withdrawal) has ended.

What Determines the Length of Stay 

You may be wondering how long this process takes. The detoxification process can last anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks. The length of time depends on a variety of factors including:

  • The substance of abuse that requires elimination from the body
  • Length of abuse
  • How consistently drug was abused
  • The severity of withdrawal symptoms
  • Co-occurring disorders that also require treatment
  • Degree of medical intervention necessary

Commonly Prescribed Medications

While detox can incorporate medications, it doesn’t have to. That being said, some common medications used during the detoxification process include:

Methadone: Used to treat withdrawal from opioids, this drug also poses a risk of addiction and must be monitored carefully if given to a patient.

Buprenorphine: Also used to treat opioid addiction, this drug is less addictive and can be safely given to a patient with minimal associated risks.

Naltrexone: This is used to reduce cravings in both alcohol and opiate addiction.

Acamprosate: Used to treat anxiety and insomnia as a result of withdrawal, this drug is often used in the detox setting.

Disulfiram: This drug is used to prevent relapse in alcohol addiction by acting biochemically to produce nausea or vomiting in the patient if they do decide to use alcohol again. 

These are just some of the drugs prescribed in the detox setting. Also during recovery, many psychiatrists, doctors, and licensed nurse practitioners will prescribe for co-occurring mental illnesses. 

Many individuals find it extremely helpful to come off drugs in a monitored setting. (For alcohol detoxification, medical monitoring is a must as withdrawal can be life-threatening.) Withdrawal symptoms are carefully monitored and tended based on guidelines that are usually set up and supervised by a doctor. 

Also, having an inpatient facility where you can grow as a sober individual can prove tremendously beneficial to those who need additional support. In this sort of setting, you can learn the techniques that will keep you away from your drug of abuse long term.

What Happens After Detox?

After detox, you may have new medications to take to help you in recovery. Then the mental work begins as you segway out of the physical work of withdrawal. This is when you develop effective coping strategies to manage your difficult emotions. Instead of turning to your drug of abuse for support, you begin to learn how to ease stress and anxiety independently without substances. 

This form of growth is multi-faceted. You may learn new therapeutic techniques or join support groups to facilitate the transition. You can begin to heal from any failed relationships that you’ve had because of your addiction. You will work on how to share both your prior struggle with addiction and your commitment to sobriety with family, friends, and anyone else who needs to be informed about the situation. This is when you begin to make decisions for yourself on the sort of life you want to lead.

Is Detox Right for You?

If you have been struggling to quit cold-turkey or you just want some help stopping your drug of abuse, it may be time to consider finding a detox program that fits your location, time, and preferences. The benefit of inpatient detox is that others can monitor you as you navigate the challenging process. They can offer you additional support and resources that you would not have in another setting. Inpatient detox is right for you if you would benefit from additional support when trying to quit.


You may want to change but are afraid of detox as you don’t know what it entails. Learning some common withdrawal symptoms, factors affecting the length of detoxification, and common medications used during the detox process can help diminish your fears. With support and intervention, you have options for what happens after detox and how to decide if an inpatient program is right for you. At Valiant Living, an 8-bed treatment facility in Denver, Colorado, you can go through detox with a host of professionals offering their services to help. The team includes a medical director, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, LPNs, counselors, and addiction techs.  Additional services include 24/7 medical care and the knowledge that the program works with most major insurance plans. We hope that in the comfortable design of our residential facility, you can find safety, calmness, and comfort as you make this major change in your life. If you are looking for the support we can offer you, do not hesitate to reach out at (303) 952-5035.