What a Drug Detox Program is Like

What is a Drug Detox Program is Like?

One of the most difficult facets of early recovery from drug addiction is the initial withdrawal period. While some people may believe that the best way to detox from drugs is to stop abruptly, or “cold turkey”, it is a recipe for disaster for those who have developed drug dependence. In this article, we will explore why a drug detox program is important, what it’s like in such a program, and what comes after detox. 

Considering a detox program for yourself or a loved one? Read more here!

What is a Drug Detox Program?

Drug withdrawal symptoms are exhibited in individuals who have developed a dependence to drugs. In essence, the body has become used to and eventually reliant on the particular drug’s presence. It has adapted to drug, and when that individual tries to stop using the drug, their body goes through drug withdrawal symptoms during the period that the body is trying to adjust to functioning without the drug again.

A drug detox program is one that assist the individual through this process of withdrawal. The program achieves this by giving the person medications that help to reduce and manage symptoms. A drug detox program, such as the one at WhiteSands, also provide around-the-clock medical supervision because symptoms may become severe and even life-threatening in some cases.

How Long is Detox?

A drug detox program length isn’t the same for everyone; there are several factors that can influence how long the detox goes on for. Some of the factors that can change the length of a detox program include:

  • The type of drug being abused, such as an opioid, stimulants, and CNS depressants among others
  • The current health of the patient
  • How long the abuse carried on for
  • How much the person took on a regular basis
  • Polysubstance abuse, which is when multiple substances were frequently abused
  • Environmental factors, such as the person’s stress levels

In cases where the dependence was only moderate, detox for drugs can last between 3 to 5 days. In cases where the dependence was severe, it usually takes between 5 to 7 days for symptoms to run their course. Some medications may accelerate the process of detox, and a rapid detox where the patient is placed under anesthesia may also be required.

What is Detox Like?

Detox is not easy. While the medications given to each patient during their detox may be a great asset to their comfort, the symptoms can still be harrowing. People tend to be advised to not stop their drug use until they are in the program to avoid severe and potentially dangerous symptoms from taking them by surprise.

The first two days is usually when the initial symptoms begin, and some symptoms may begin after just a few hours. From here, the symptoms increase and usually peak at around day three. All the while, the person will have access to around-the-clock medical care and medications to help ease the symptoms. By day five, most of the symptoms will have peaked and begun to reduce in severity.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

While the physical symptoms of withdrawal from drugs are usually dealt with in the first week of recovery in a medical detox program, post-acute withdrawal syndrome may cause psychological symptoms to persist for weeks if it’s not treated. The symptoms of the condition usually involve anxiety and depression, which can make recovery difficult. However, these can be treated during a rehab program.

Detox is a crucial part of recovery from substance use disorder; however, it is not the end of the treatment process, as the Principals of Effective Treatment states. Essentially, a detox program treats a physical dependence but not the addiction itself. Inpatient or outpatient rehab programs must follow detox to provide conclusive treatment for addiction.




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.