How Drug Detox Works

How Drug Detox Works and What Happens in Drug Rehab

If you have never personally been in a drug detox, it can be sort of intimidating to start the journey to sobriety. However, detox centers play a crucial role in cleansing the body of the substance abused as well as mitigating the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting any drug. That being said, questions like what happens in drug rehab, how drug detox works, and how long is drug detox, are extremely common for rehab representatives and veterans of rehab programs alike so we are going to try to address some common concerns, including those common questions, in this article.

How Drug Detox Works: Intake and Initial Treatment Plans

Like most educations and medical programs, drug detoxes begin with a basic intake process. After making the decision to enroll in a detox center and working out any payment options if applicable, intake generally begins with a one-on-one meeting with a psychologist, therapist, or medical professional. The purpose of this meeting is for the treatment center to get a handle on where you are in your addiction, and what precautions, initial treatments, and what risks may be associated with your detox.

You see, many drugs have intense, discomforting, or potentially fatal side effects associated with withdrawal. While medically supervised detox programs can help keep patients safe and comfortable through regulated treatment processes and occasional use of medication, it’s important that they understand how long you used and other key points of information. Some common questions to hear during your initial intake meeting are:

  • What substances did you use during your addiction?
  • How long have you been using this substance(s)?
  • What doses did you generally use throughout your addiction?
  • When was the last time you used?

Your answers to these questions will help determine what happens in drug rehab during your detox phase, they will also help determine the answer to another common question: how long is drug detox? Generally speaking though, drug detoxes will last seven to thirty days depending on the intensity of the addiction and the length of abuse. However, depending on the treatment program, drug detox can overlap with inpatient treatment, meaning there will not be a perfectly clear endpoint to detox.

How Drug Detox Works: What Happens in Drug Rehab?

Near the end of the detox process, or possibly even after the detox process, you will probably find yourself in another one-on-one interview. This time, however, the interview is a little more personal, and it is usually with the counselor you will be working with for the remainder of inpatient treatment. The purpose of this meeting is to determine your treatment plan and your overall goals and focuses on treatment. While this seems obvious, there is more nuance to it that may appear on the surface. Here are some examples of the many focuses that can be determined during these interviews:

  • What are your current coping mechanisms?
  • Are any of the coping mechanisms healthy?
  • What may coping mechanisms be more effective and more coherent with a life of sobriety?
  • What triggers need to be acknowledged and worked on?
  • What physical changes should be made to make sobriety more likely?
  • What mental hurdles need to be acknowledged and worked on?
  • What forms of treatment will be more effective in accomplishing these tasks?

While these points of focus can be a lot to take in, the simplified version is this: what happens in drug rehab is determined by what YOU need from drug rehab. The overall focus of treatment centers, be-it inpatient or outpatient, is to create effective rehab prevention plans through treatment methods like one-on-one therapy, group therapy, life-skill classes, coping skill education classes, trigger and cravings education classes, and other activities.

How Drug Detox Works: By Working with You!

While recovery can be a painstaking process of changing habits and mental processes that have become ingrained in the very core of your being, it can be a successful and highly rewarding process. If you look at some of the government-run studies on the success of rehab, one of the first things you will notice, aside from results resembling those of chronically ill patients, is the fact that the vast majority of relapses happen when addicts are preparing for treatment and when they are fresh out of treatment. While there are a number of factors in these results, such as initial withdrawals and post-acute-withdrawal symptoms, this also goes to show how drug detox works.

Drug detox works by working with the patient, and by the patient working with the detox center. If you do not want to obtain and maintain sobriety, then no amount of treatment will ever make you recover. Treatment centers can be a powerful tool that can have a profound impact on the lives of its patients, but similar to how long is drug detox and what happens in drug rehab depend on each particular patient, how drug detox works depend on how willing the patient is to change.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.