Anyone struggling with addiction hopes a quick trip to detox will be the cure. The big answer to the big problem. Unfortunately, a cure does not exist for drug addiction or alcoholism. And there is not a quick fix that mends the harm done to family relationships, the health of the addicted individual, and the financial issues caused by addiction. Rather, detox is the first step in a long process that addresses the many different aspects of a patient’s life affected by drug and alcohol addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, detoxification is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal.1 Detox alone is not treatment. However, it is often the first step in a drug treatment program. In most cases, treatment with behavioral therapy and/or the use of medication follows detox.

Drug Detox Is an All-Important First Step in Drug Addiction Treatment

At a standard detox program, consulting physicians give patients the medical treatment necessary to get through these withdrawal symptoms quickly and safely. Physicians also help patients get stabilized physically before they move forward with addiction treatment. Withdrawal symptoms can be psychological, or they can be physical.

In some cases, these symptoms can be debilitating or cause medical complications that are severe or life-threatening. Each drug brings with it a different range of withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, medications help treat the drug cravings and reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

The Principles of Managed Withdrawal


A medically-assisted drug withdrawal is often the best option for anyone struggling with drug addiction and other substance abuse issues. Psychological addiction treatment usually begins before the patient is completely drug-free. For example, an individual living with a heroin addiction may take methadone or buprenorphine as directed by their physician when they stop taking heroin. In these cases, consulting physicians focus on the stabilization of the patient. This process helps to minimize withdrawal symptoms and enables the patient to heal.

Tips for Success in Detox

Successfully beating drug addiction starts with knowing what you can expect, what you will need emotionally and physically, and commit to the recovery process.

Here are a few specific things you can do to make the most out of detox:

  • Stay as long as you can. Invest as much time as possible into their treatment at an inpatient facility. The time you spend in sobriety will help you handle temptation and avoid relapse after treatment.
  • Prepare to work. There is no magic cure that makes stopping drug use easy. If you’re ready to put in the work, you’re ready to heal.
  • Open your mind to different options. Medication given by your physician, alternative therapies, 12-step groups, personal counseling – all these things may be a part of your early detox and addiction treatment experience, and all of them have the potential to be beneficial.
  • Choose the right style of detox. For some addictions, an outpatient detox option is available. For some people, this is a good choice when it is combined with ongoing outpatient addiction treatment. For others, an inpatient program that includes both detox and addiction treatment is preferable. Speak with your doctor to learn about the different options before choosing the best one for your circumstance.
  • Follow your doctor’s orders. There’s no cheating in a successful detox. If your doctor tells you to drink lots of water, then drink lots of water. If she says to get lots of rest, then sleep as much as you can. Your doctor will give you a string of tips to help you feel more comfortable as you go through detox, and all of them – even the seemingly insignificant ones –will add up to a much more comfortable experience.
  • Be honest. Open up when speaking with counselors. Always tell the truth, and do not omit any details concerning your past drug history or physical health. Every piece of information you share can help you get the most effective treatment possible.

Top Drugs That Require Focused Detox

There are a handful of drugs that most often require a dedicated detox with the help of consulting physicians. Some of these drugs include:


Cocaine increases blood pressure, increases heart rate, paranoia, anxiety, and can even lead to seizures.2 Withdrawal symptoms can begin within a few hours of stopping use of the drug and can be severe for up to four days. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms may include sleeplessness, depression, paranoia, and lowered energy. Risks include stroke, myocardial and other organ infarction, cardiovascular collapse, violence, and suicide.2


Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal may begin from 4 to 12 hours after you cut down or stop drinking, or as long as several days after the last drink, and can last a few days.1 Withdrawal symptoms can include increased blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature as well as delirium, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or death. Because alcohol affects almost every organ in the body, co-occurring medical disorders and chronic illness are often a problem as well.


Some of heroin’s side effects include drowsiness, “nodding out” and euphoria. Withdrawal symptoms usually set in within 12 hours of the last dose and last for as long as a week. Patients may experience withdrawal symptoms that include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, chills, runny nose, teary eyes, and yawning.3


Marijuana is a drug that decreases blood pressure and intraocular pressure, increases heart rate, causes red eyes and dry mouth, and may induce hallucinations at high doses. Withdrawal symptoms begin at a varied rate depending on the amount of use and may last for up to a few months. Withdrawal symptoms can include agitation, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, nausea, problems with focus and concentration, and diarrhea.5

Detox for Multiple Drugs of Addiction and Alcohol

More and more people are seeking detox and addiction treatment for multiple drugs. Most need a multi-pronged treatment plan to address the many issues with which they are struggling.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction to multiple substances:

  • Tell your consulting medical team. Admitting to only one substance of addiction when you consistently use more than one drug will not help you get the treatment you need. If you are not sure if one or more drugs qualify as abuse or addiction, share the information just to be sure.
  • Agree to a drug test. Drug screenings can reveal what you’ve recently used and better assist your consulting physicians and treatment team in helping you heal.
  • Let your consulting medical team create a treatment plan. Depending on the withdrawal symptoms, you may need to prioritize the treatment of one issue over another. Complex interactions can make this a complicated process. The best choice is to trust your doctors, share your concerns, and make sure you fully understand what you need to do to care for yourself.
  • Know that medication may or may not be an option. Don’t bank on your treatment including or not including medication if you are dependent on multiple substances. Interactions of the two substances may be too much to further complicate by throwing a third drug into the mix. In other cases, it may be necessary. Ask your doctor if you have questions about decisions made concerning your treatment.

Choose a Detox Program at Michael’s House

Call us at Michael’s House today at 760-548-4032 to learn more about our detox and addiction treatment programs. A counselor is standing by to discuss your needs and to help you begin the process of living a life without addiction. If you have fears or concerns about how your detox will proceed or the types of addiction treatment services you may require, please ask for a consultation. We can help. Please call us today to get started.

Start the Journey Today!


1Frequently Asked Questions.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 21 Mar. 2017. Accessed 6 Sept. 2017.

2Cocaine intoxication.” MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Accessed 6 Sept. 2017.

3Cocaine withdrawal.” MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, Accessed 6 Sept. 2017.

4Opiate and opioid withdrawal.” MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, Accessed 6 Sept. 2017.

5Drug addiction:Symptoms.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 5 Dec. 2014. Accessed 6 Sept. 2017.