Simcoe Addiction and Mental Health

detox - detoxification - drug detox

What Is Detox and How Does It Work?

Detoxification is the process of clearing out drug or alcohol substances from the body, according to the Canadian Addiction Association. It’s done safely in a treatment centre to support the individual as much as possible. The goal is to help individuals jumpstart their recovery quickly and comfortably.


In order for the body to return to its natural, healthy functions, detoxing is often a necessary treatment for physical addiction. This is because substance disorders and addictions can hinder parts of our brain and nervous system. It can impact our cognitive processes responsible for decision-making, meaning we lose self-awareness. Our bodies begin to expect the substance to function normally. When we withdraw, people can feel unwell, as the body hasn’t adjusted yet. 

Before beginning detox, clients receive a medical assessment to determine the safest way to proceed. The drug or alcohol use disorder is examined, as well as co-occurring disorders, medical conditions, psychological factors that contribute to addiction, and the risks of withdrawing. The medical professionals gain an understanding of a client’s needs and the potential medication they will need to feel more comfortable during detox. These techniques are crucial to recovery according to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 

How Long Does Detox Take?

You’re probably wondering how long detoxification takes. On average, symptoms of withdrawal last 5-10 days, or two weeks for more severe cases. Many detox programs last 5-7 days. In the grand scheme of life, this isn’t too long. 

The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment has shown that detoxification is an effective treatment for long-term recovery as well. Successful detox tends to decrease how much time is spent in a treatment centre too. This means you gain confidence and control of your psychological and cognitive abilities faster.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Medication is given to help ease most symptoms, like nausea or discomfort in the body. Other common symptoms of withdrawal include anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, mood swings, headaches, fever, and difficulty concentrating. A nurse should be checking on a client’s heart rate, blood, and temperature as these may fluctuate.

What Is Detox Like?

Everyone’s experience with detoxing is different and widely depends on the following:

  • The type of substance
  • The duration of the addiction or use disorder
  • Method of using
  • Amount consumed
  • Family history with addiction
  • Other medical conditions 

For example, withdrawing from cocaine addiction looks very different from detoxing from alcohol addiction. On the one hand, cocaine withdrawal is psychological. Detoxing requires managing cravings and anxiety. On the other hand, alcoholism can present physical symptoms of withdrawal. There is a greater risk of seizure which must be paid attention to, on top of mental wellbeing. 

Detoxing from a substance disorder or addiction is a serious step in recovery. It allows our minds and bodies to return to their normal state. Addiction can take a lot away from us. Detoxing gives people the opportunity to seize control back and rebuild themselves.

If you’re curious about any of our detoxification programs, reach out on our website and one of our specialists will be happy to explain more. 

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