Drug Detox & Withdrawal Symptoms - Rehab Guide

Drug Detox

Drug Detox

Drug Detox

What is drug detox?

Detox is a natural process our body uses to get rid of unwanted toxins and chemicals in our system. There are many ways it can do this, through the liver, kidneys and bowel. This is not always a simple and easy process and takes up energy and can make us feel poorly in the meantime.

Most of us know that stopping taking drugs isn’t a straightforward thing to do. Even if you have only been taking them for a short time, the withdrawal and craving can be powerful.

What you might not know is that not all detoxes are created equal. There is not just one way to stop taking drugs, and plenty of options are available.

Why Detox?

Once a person has developed a dependence on a certain drug or drugs, taking any less than they normally do results in drug withdrawal symptoms. Drug addiction and drug dependence is a vicious cycle of taking more and more drugs to gain the same original effects and benefits as tolerance to the drug grows.

The only way to stop the deadly and progressive cycle of drug dependence is to stop taking the drug completely.

Here lies the problem that many drug-addicted people face. Stopping a drug where a dependence has developed is very physically uncomfortable and extremely mentally challenging.

The very drug they are trying to stop is calling their name every second of every minute of every day. The craving to stop withdrawal symptoms is relentless, which is why so many succumb to the temptation of going back to taking drugs.

Below you can see the effect that drug use can have on one very important part of the body: the brain.

Drug Brain Effects

Drug tolerance and dependence doesn’t always occur through drug abuse; they can develop slowly over time from taking an addictive prescribed drug or over the counter medicine for a prolonged period.

Prescription drug dependence is common in those that suffer from a chronic pain-related condition. Opiate prescription drugs are notorious for their addictive properties.

Even taking an opiate exactly as prescribed can inadvertently cause drug dependence.

The solution to drug dependence is drug detox. Drug detox is also part of the solution to drug addiction (at least, it is the first step to overcoming addiction).

What is drug detox?

Drug detox is a name given to withdrawing from drugs where there is physical drug dependence. There are various methods of abstinence from drugs, but not all are safe.

The method that will work for you depends on many factors. For example, If you have a drug dependence that has only recently developed and is to a low dosage of drugs, you may find that you can detox by weaning yourself off them.

A full medical detox is recommended for those who have a long-established drug dependence, an addiction or are dependent on more than one drug or drugs and alcohol.

Methods and types of drug detox

There are various ways and means of stopping a drug or drugs, but as previously mentioned – not all are safe. Certain methods have a higher success rate of successfully quitting drugs than others, so it is important to get expert professional advice on which method will work best for you.

Cold turkey

Cold turkey drug detox is a well-known term, but what makes it cold turkey?

  • Stop taking any of the drug
  • Detox at home
  • No medical supervision
  • No medication to ease symptoms
  • Alone or with little support

Cold turkey detox is certainly not for the faint-hearted and can be painful, challenging, and even life-threatening.

Cold turkey drug detox results in the most severe form of drug withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms start as soon as the first dose is missed and peak within 24 to 48 hours. There is also a vastly increased chance of developing PAWS – post-acute withdrawal symptoms. These are unpleasant symptoms that can come and go for months after the drug has been stopped. In cases of heavy drug dependence, they can last longer than a year.

drug withdrawal symptoms

Those with a drug addiction do not tend to succeed at this method. Commonly they end up back on drugs within a matter of days. This is due to drug addiction consisting of psychological dependence and compulsion, and physical dependence.

It is important to note that with alcohol, certain prescribed drugs and illicit drugs, cold turkey detox can ultimately result in death. Please do not attempt this method as a means of getting clean.

Gradual drug withdrawal detox

A gradual drug withdrawal detox or tapering off regime involves the drug or drugs being reduced over some time until the person is no longer taking them. This detox method is most commonly applied in the community and should be supervised by a GP if it is a prescription drug.

Pros and Cons of Gradual Detox
Pro: withdrawal symptoms are less severe and more manageable

Pro: Can be done in the community

Con: Very difficult to cut down if you are addicted

Con: Need to be bespoke as everyone reacts differently to a drug being reduced

Con: Relapse is more likely


Gradual drug withdrawal is best suited to those with prescription drug dependence and not necessarily someone who is addicted or has been abusing drugs. If you suffer from addiction, you will still have the compulsion to get high and are unlikely to succeed in this method.

Home Detox

Home drug detox

Home detoxification is private and a good option for those who cannot leave home for a stay in rehab. You will receive the same medical detox as a rehab would give but in the comfort of your own home.

A doctor or prescribing nurse visits the patient in their home environment up to 3 or 4 times to administer medication.

Pros and Cons of Home Detox
Pro: withdrawal symptoms are treated by safe medications

Pro: Can be done at home

Pro: Privacy and discretion

Con: You are not in an alcohol and drug-free space

Con: No psychological treatment unless you go to a support group

Con: Need to provide your care – family, friends etc.

Home detox will only achieve physical sobriety for those who suffer from addiction. With the psychological component of the addiction left untreated, chances of relapse are extremely high.

Full medical drug detox

Full medical detoxification involves substituting the drug or drugs for an approved medication gradually reduced. This method can be applied to illicit, legal, over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

A full medical detox is managed for you by qualified doctors and professionals and is usually conducted within a controlled setting such as private residential drug rehab or hospital.

This method is ideally suited to all. Clinically, it is the safest and most successful way to detox from drugs.

As control is with a professional, the person is more likely to stick to the regimen.

Within the safety of a CQC residential clinic or rehab, a drug-addicted individual can further benefit from a bespoke drug rehabilitation programme.

If you wish to know more about a private drug detox within one of our CQC registered centres, call Rehab Guide today.

Common drug detox withdrawal symptoms & when to seek urgent help

Many drugs that are addictive have withdrawal symptoms that are common to all.

These withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Aches and pains
  • Tiredness and generally feeling run down
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Poor concentration
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Strong drug cravings
  • Fever
  • Sexual dysfunction and loss of sex drive
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Mood swings

Certain drugs such as benzodiazepines, opiates, alcohol and prescription drugs can have dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including hallucinations, paranoia, confusion, racing and irregular heartbeat.

Dangerous withdrawal symptoms from drugs can become life-threatening if not promptly treated.

If you develop any dangerous withdrawal symptoms or observe them in someone else, or if common withdrawal symptoms become very severe, it is important to seek urgent medical treatment.

Managing drug withdrawal symptoms at home

Rehab Guide

Drug withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and difficult to tolerate, especially if you are planning on detoxing at home.

A medical drug detox manages drug withdrawal symptoms for you, but what if you are unable to access a private detox and have to withdraw yourself from drug addiction or dependence?

Depending on the type of drug you are dependent on, the dosage and the amount of time you have had the dependence will affect the severity and duration of the drug withdrawal you experience. Other factors affecting your drug withdrawal are your general physical health, mental health, support network, age, and other medications.

It is important to speak to your GP about your intentions to detox and ask for guidance on the approach.

Assuming it is safe for you to detox at home, helpful hints and tips to managing drug detox withdrawal include:

  • Stay hydrated, even if this means taking frequent small sips of water.
  • Ask for support – Support during your withdrawal can make all the difference. Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous can provide support locally.
  • Try to eat – If you feel nauseous, not eating will only worsen this. Small and frequent amounts of bland food or whatever you can tolerate is better than nothing.
  • Keep busy – If withdrawal symptoms are severe, to begin with, you may not feel like going out; however, you would be surprised how a walk in the fresh air can help distract from symptoms.
  • Stay away from drugs and alcohol – Yes, this means not associating with your using friends if you want to avoid the temptation.
  • Ensure your GP knows what you are trying to achieve and check that it is safe. Your GP can suggest sources of support and help to support you through the detox period.
  • Ask to stay with a family member or friend. Detoxing alone is exceptionally hard. If you have family or friends that are willing to support you in getting clean, ask them for help
  • Be kind to yourself – Don’t expect too much from yourself or over-commit whilst detoxing.

Which drugs need a drug detox?

Any drug that can cause drug dependence or addiction requires a drug detox, and detoxification carries many dangers if not carried out professionally and correctly.

Rehab Guides clinics are able to facilitate a full medical drug detox for a vast number of drug dependencies, including:

Do I need a drug detox?

You may be wondering if you need a drug detox or if you would benefit from one.

If you have a dependency on a drug of any kind, then a medical detox is the safest way to come off of that drug. It is also the most successful way; temptation is removed, and drug cravings are dramatically reduced with the assistance of detox medication and supportive therapy.

You may be wondering if you have a drug dependence; displaying any of the following signs and symptoms, strongly indicates that you have a physical dependence and would benefit from a full medical inpatient programme.

  • You take drugs every day
  • You are unable to function normally without drugs
  • If you miss a regular dose, you develop withdrawal symptoms
  • You always make sure you have a supply of drugs to hand
  • You hide the number of drugs you take from others
  • You wish you could stop taking drugs, but find you can’t
  • You have tried to self-detox before but have failed due to temptation or withdrawal
  • You will do almost anything to avoid drug withdrawal, including lying, cheating, manipulating, stealing and committing a crime

Drug dependence and drug addiction can become life-threatening and only ever get progressively worse without treatment. Admitting you have a problem and seeking professional help could save your life.

Residential Drug Detox – What to Expect

Many addicted to drugs avoid or delay treatment as they fear withdrawal and cannot imagine a life without drugs. If this describes you, you are not alone.

The World Drug Report for 2019 estimates that some 35 million individuals worldwide suffer from drug misuse disorder and require treatment services. 

Entering a residential programme is the safest and most comfortable way to come off drugs. Residential centres are purpose-built and staffed by qualified professionals; all committed to helping you become drug-free.

On admission to one of our facilities, you will have a warm and friendly welcome. We will help ensure that you attend the best-suited clinic for your individual treatment needs.

Shortly after your arrival, you will be introduced to one of our doctors or consultant psychiatrists. They will conduct a full and thorough assessment of your medical and mental health needs before prescribing a drug detox regime, using an approved substitute medication.

Detox medications assist in the detox process and minimise withdrawal symptoms to manageable levels. In addition, you will be continually monitored and supported by a team of a multidisciplinary staff.

Residential detox facilities vary from clinic to clinic. You can choose anything from affordable drug detox to a luxury drug detox. Your medical and clinical care will not be affected, but the accommodation and facilities are more luxurious within a luxury detox centre.


GET HELP TODAY. 24 Hour Helpline:  0207 2052845


After detox

Regardless of how long your treatment takes, it is recommended that you stay a minimum of an additional 28 days within a detox and rehab centre. This allows for the rehab staff to achieve the following:

  • Ensure that you are drug-free, withdrawal-free and no longer craving the drug
  • Arm you with the necessary tools of recovery in order to prevent relapse
  • Provide you with a firm foundation for ongoing recovery from drugs
  • Instil healthy coping mechanisms to help self regulate your emotional well being
  • Treat any co-occurring conditions and mental health problems
  • Unearth and treat the root causes that helped form your addiction
  • Ensure that you are physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritual well before leaving the treatment environment

Drug addiction and dependence can be successfully stopped through drug detox. The psychological aspect must be treated comprehensively using evidence-based treatment methods for ongoing recovery.

Rehab Guide’s exemplary drug detox clinics also provide free aftercare for patients who complete their treatment. Aftercare has been recognised as being extremely helpful in preventing relapse and continuing to keep patients motivated and moving forward with their recovery back in the community.

Free Drug Detox in England, Wales and Scotland

The NHS is no longer in a position to fund inpatient detox treatment in many areas of the country. This is due to substantial cuts in their budgets. An estimated £162 million has been cut from drug and alcohol services in England alone since 2014. If you live in the UK and are looking for free drug detox, you will need to contact your GP and local drug and alcohol services.

Sadly, these cuts have meant disaster for many in urgent need of drug and alcohol treatment. Securing funding for drug detox is extremely difficult and rare these days. You can, however, still access detox support, counselling, drug reduction regimes and substitution regimes in your local community through these services.

The reality is if you need a drug detox urgently, then paying to go private is the only guaranteed way of securing this.

The good news is that private drug detox may be more affordable than you think. Depending on your treatment needs and the drug or drugs you need to stop, treatment can start from as little as a few thousand pounds.

To find out more about affordable drug detox in your local area, call Rehab Guide and speak with one of our friendly addiction treatment experts.

Freedom from drugs

For all the pitfalls and discomfort that can come with detoxing from drugs, it is important to remember that if you conduct the drug detox correctly, you will only ever have to do it once with professional support and treatment.

drug detox

Imagine waking up with a clear head and the first thought in your mind not being related to drugs. To go about your day, achieve personal growth, rebuild your relationships; see, hear, smell, feel and taste properly. Be free to go where you want, when you want, to feel a sense of pride and achievement and learn to love who you are becoming. These simple things that many individuals take for granted are often very much appreciated by someone in recovery from drugs.

Detoxing from drugs is very achievable, as is ongoing recovery from drugs. Call Rehab Guide and let us help you take the first step to a drug-free life today! Contact us now by email or on 02072052845






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