January 19, 2023 Alcohol

How Alcohol and Drug Detox Works

If you are dealing with alcohol or drug addiction, you will likely undergo a detox procedure. Detoxification is the first step you need to take to recover from addiction.

Detoxification is the process of letting your body naturally remove toxins. Thinking about medical detoxification can cause stress, but knowing what happens can prepare you for that.

Withdrawal from different drugs requires medical attention to lower the chances of relapse.

To overcome addiction, reach out to Indiana Center for Recovery. We offer detox procedures in a secure and comfortable environment.

Key Takeaways

It is nearly impossible to recover from addiction without detox and medical support. Substance detox heals your physical and mental health. Learn what happens during detox, its timeline, and things you should do after detox.

  • You will undergo a medical assessment before the detox.
  • Withdrawal symptoms occur during this procedure that may require the use of medication.
  • The detox timeline depends on various factors.
  • After detox, you can continue treatment in a residential or outpatient facility.
  • Eat healthily and keep yourself hydrated for long-term recovery.

A group of people gathered for therapy. Explained text: onve your body is free from drugs, you can start addiction treatment in an inpatient or outpatient facility.

You do not need to fight alone against addiction. Indiana Center for Recovery understands your condition and is here to assist you.

Call us today at (844) 650-0064 to start your recovery.

What Happens During Detox?

Before starting the detox, individuals may wonder, ‘how does detox work, and what happens during this process?’ Knowing about this process will help you to stay calm.

Medical Check-up

Healthcare professionals usually recommend medical detox instead of at-home detox. During this process, medical supervision is essential to deal with withdrawal signs and symptoms.

You will undergo a medical assessment during medically-assisted detox. During this evaluation, the healthcare provider will collect information on clients’ medical history and details about their addiction.

This step is vital for doctors to understand their patient’s needs and build customized plans for them.

Withdrawal Symptoms

After you stop taking drugs or lower their dose, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms range from mild to severe. Drug and alcohol withdrawal can result in physical and psychological symptoms.

Physical symptoms of alcohol withdrawal include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose
  • High body temperature
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure

Psychological withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Irritation
  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Craving for drugs

The advantage of inpatient detox is that the treatment facility offers 24/7 care to help you manage the symptoms during the withdrawal process. Rehab centers usually provide IV therapy, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, or prescription medications.

Medical staff will observe vital signs as the patient goes through this process. They monitor your body temperature, oxygen level, respiration rate, heart rate, and blood pressure.


Taper treatment is a reliable way to remove harmful substances from your body. Tapering means that you will not immediately stop drug intake. Instead, you will slowly reduce its amount to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms.


The final stage of detoxification is to prepare the patient for the subsequent phase of successful treatment. Individuals must develop the skills necessary to stay sober after detoxing and clearing their system of drugs and alcohol.

To help you maintain sobriety, Indiana Center for Recovery offers family programs to assist you in rebuilding the bond with your loved ones. After detox, an individual requires support, and we offer that support to each client.

Detoxification Timeline

The alcohol and drug detox process has different forms. Detox for alcohol, cocaine, opioid, and benzodiazepine has different detox timelines.

The length of detox and severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on the following factors:

  • Duration of substance use
  • Types of drugs misused and if there were more than one
  • Amount of substance you were using at that time
  • Medical history of patients
  • Patient’s age and gender

Alcohol Detox Timeline

If you or a loved one suffers from alcohol abuse, their withdrawal symptoms will begin within the first six hours after their last drink. Binge drinkers are at risk of seizures, which is why detox at home is not preferred for alcohol detox.

The minor early withdrawal symptoms, such as a headache, moderate anxiety, insomnia, slight tremors, and stomach discomfort, may appear from six to 12 hours after the last glass.

From 12 to 24 hours into alcohol detox, you may experience visual and auditory hallucinations.

After one to two days, you will experience physical withdrawal symptoms such as tiredness and muscle ache. If you suffer from substance use disorder, you may experience delirium tremens between 48 to 72 hours.

Drug Detox Timeline

Drug detox depends on the type of drug that was being misused. Short-acting opioids like painkillers and heroin cause withdrawal symptoms between eight and 24 hours. You may experience severe withdrawal symptoms after five to 10 days.

Long-acting opioids like methadone may cause mild or no withdrawal symptoms for two to four days. Withdrawal symptoms may fade after ten days. According to the National Institute of Health, in 2018, 2.1 percent of people in the United States misused benzodiazepine.

Withdrawal symptoms from benzodiazepine medications like Xanax, Valium, and Ativan can begin within two to four days. These symptoms will worsen after two weeks into medical detox.

You may suffer from withdrawal symptoms for months or even years without medical attention.

A detox center can help anyone with substance abuse disorder or excessive drinking. Still, it’s crucial to understand that detox is simply the first step in recovering from addiction.

These centers offer care in a safe environment that lowers the risk of relapse. Detox at home is quite dangerous because you might not get immediate medical help if withdrawal symptoms worsen.

Life After Detox

Completing detox is an accomplishment, but you must work to achieve sobriety. Recovery from addiction is complex. Your thoughts and habits are still the same even after detox. You may still experience cravings that can lead to addiction relapse.

Once your body is free from drugs, you can start addiction treatment in an inpatient or outpatient facility. An inpatient program requires the client to stay in the facility and receive treatment.

In an outpatient program, you can leave the facility after attending daily therapy sessions that can be individual or group sessions.

Rehab centers offer programs such as:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • 12-step meetings
  • Relapse prevention therapy
  • Support groups

The programs mentioned above are beneficial. However, healthy habits are also important, like having a detox diet plan that includes vitamins A, B, C, D, and E.

Your body, due to excessive alcohol and substance use, lacks these essential nutrients, which can lead to liver damage. Moreover, increase your water intake and exercise during and after detox to stay active.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does detoxification work?

Detox is a process during which your blood gets rid of traces of alcohol and drugs. Detox is a biological process. Detoxification helps you achieve physical stability. The primary purpose of medically-assisted detox is to lessen the impact of withdrawal symptoms and make the drug withdrawal procedure as comfortable as possible.
Medically assisted detox is the most effective type of detoxification. If you attempt to detox at home, you should know that it is rarely successful. You can seek the help of medical professionals to overcome addiction.

How long does it take to detox the whole body?

The detox process is not the same for everyone. Each person has their struggle with addiction. For this reason, the duration of substance detox treatment depends on various factors such as:What kind of drug did you use?
If you routinely consumed multiple drugs.
Your usage of drugs or alcohol on a regular basis and how much of each you consume.
Medical background and any ongoing health issues.
Detoxification can take two to ten days. However, it can take several weeks to months if an individual suffers from severe addiction. Such patients experience intense withdrawal symptoms.

What happens to your body when you are detoxing?

When the detox process starts, doctors will closely monitor your vital signs because you risk experiencing undesirable withdrawal effects. These symptoms are alleviated through medication like Valium and Librium.These drugs will reduce mental symptoms like anxiety and prevent seizures. During detox, you will experience extreme dehydration, which is why IV therapy is employed to keep clients hydrated.
During the first few days, your body will experience some adverse symptoms such as:

  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Signs of depression or anxiety

This procedure will improve the health of your liver, brain, and other vital organs under stress due to drug or alcohol use.