Top Rated Drug & Alcohol Residential Rehab in Los Angeles, California
Verify your
insurance now
Call today 24/7(888) 346-4350

What Happens During Detox and Withdrawal?

What Is Detox?

Frequent substance abuse over a period of time can lead to physical dependency. Substance abuse can lead to physical changes in the brain and neurochemistry which causes the person to become dependent on the substance to function properly. The brain can stop producing certain neurotransmitters on its own while increasing production to others to balance out the constant presence of alcohol and drugs. The body will respond intensely and quickly when someone attempts to cut back or stop using. What happens during detox and withdrawal is uncomfortable, painful, and at times dangerous symptoms. However, symptoms can be reduced and even eliminated through medical detox programs.

Detoxification refers to the process of the body and mind releasing addictive chemicals that have been stored during long-term substance use. Detox can have multiple meanings and is important in preparing the person for recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. It can refer to the process of withdrawing from a substance and also to treatments and programs used to ease withdrawal symptoms. Detox refers to the timeframe when a person avoids drugs and alcohol to rid the body of toxins and eliminate physical dependence.

What Happens During Detox and Withdrawal?

Individuals can naturally detox on their own if enough time passes since drug and alcohol use stopped. However, a medical detox center can offer a safer and quicker detoxification process. Medically supervised detox can provide individuals with medications, therapies, and holistic treatments to ease withdrawal symptoms and ensure safety. Detox is making sure all addictive substances are out of the body and the person is no longer physically dependent on the substance. Completing detox on your own is quite challenging and most people quickly relapse as it is the quickest way to deal with cravings and withdrawals. Drug and alcohol detox programs can ensure you complete the detoxification process by easing cravings and withdrawals and providing a drug and alcohol-free environment to prevent relapse.

Every person’s experience with detox will be different. Individuals with severe addictions to certain substances such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids may experience acute detox, a life-threatening or critical condition experienced during the withdrawal process. These individuals must be monitored 24/7 in an inpatient care facility because of the high risk of fatal side effects, respiratory failure, and seizures.

Individuals who experience less severe withdrawal symptoms will go through sub-acute detox, usually with less medical supervision or in an outpatient setting. Supervised medical detox can still benefit these individuals as they can detox in a private, drug-free setting. If symptoms are manageable enough, detox can be completed at home with occasional visits to the doctor to monitor progress and pick up medications to ease symptoms.

Contact The Detox Center of Los Angeles today at (888) 346-4350 to learn how to access our addiction treatment programs.

What Is Withdrawal?

The terms detox and withdrawal are often used interchangeably. However, the essential difference is having a treatment program and goal. Detox involves going through withdrawal, but it also includes completing the withdrawal process and having the goal of ridding the body completely of drugs and alcohol. On the other hand, withdrawal is the wide range of symptoms experienced when substance use is suddenly stopped. Drugs and alcohol will interfere with the connections between neurons and neurotransmitters, which causes the brain to gradually build tolerance and feels like they need more of the substance each time to get the same effect.

When the individual suddenly stops drinking or using the drug, the sudden absence of the substance shocks the nervous system, causing withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms indicate physical dependency, which can lead to addiction and substance use disorders. These symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening depending on several factors, including substance type, length of addiction, the severity of abuse, sex, age, weight, and overall health.

Withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on the type of substance(s) that were being used. Typically, withdrawal symptoms are the opposite of the effects of the substance. For example, stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamines can cause extreme drowsiness, lethargy, and depression, while depressants like alcohol and opioids will lead to anxiety, insomnia, and jitteriness.

Some symptoms associated with withdrawal include:

  • Changes in mood
  • Appetite changes
  • Congestion and runny nose
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Chills or shivering
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Shakiness
  • In more severe cases, symptoms such as hallucinations, seizures, and delirium may occur

Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within hours of the last drink or dose and peak in intensity within a few days. Symptoms can last for about a week before they subside. Every person will go through withdrawals differently, but a general timeline of the withdrawal process may look like this:

  • Day One: mild withdrawal symptoms start with irritability, sweating, and nausea. Blood pressure and heart rate may rise as well and the person may experience tremors and insomnia.
  • Day Two: withdrawal symptoms will worsen and in severe addictions, may include seizures and hallucinations.
  • Day Three to Five: withdrawal symptoms will peak and involve acute emotional distress including panic attacks and suicidal thoughts while tremors and hallucinations may continue.
  • Day Seven: After around day five, physical withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside and may come and go as well. Psychological symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, depression, and irritability may persist for weeks or months.

What Happens During Detox and Withdrawal?



9 Things That Happen During Detox and Withdrawal

What happens during detox and withdrawal will be different for each person. Every individual’s experience with addiction and substance abuse is unique and so will the recovery process. Detox and withdrawal are the first step in the recovery process and aim to address the physical side of addiction first. This can be the most challenging part of recovery which may cause a lot of anxiety and apprehension about what to expect.

However, medically assisted detox aims to minimize withdrawal’s negative impacts and make the experiences as safe and comfortable as possible. Medical detox usually happens in a treatment facility under the care of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Rarely does detox on your own result in success and you will also experience unnecessary withdrawal symptoms, which can deter you from completing the detox process.

Medical detox programs can help you complete the withdrawal process much more easily and comfortably. What you can expect from the detox and withdrawal process in a treatment facility includes the following:

1. Medical Assessment

The first step in the detox process is going through a thorough physical and psychological assessment so the medical team can know what to expect and build a personalized treatment plan. A medical assessment will include your medical history, discussing the type of drug(s) used and how frequently they were used. You may also receive a physical exam such as a blood test and your vitals. Doctors will also look for possible co-occurring disorders, such as mental health issues that may be present. Clinicians will discuss what you can expect during withdrawal and detox, which medications they may use, and check you into your room. 

2. Around-the-Clock Medical Care

Inpatient detox will include around-the-clock medical care and monitoring. A team of doctors and nurses will monitor your vitals 24/7 to ensure the detoxification process is going as planned and to determine whether any medical interventions are needed. You can also expect to have access to counselors who will help support you emotionally and psychologically during this difficult period as emotional distress is common during the withdrawal process.

3. Withdrawal Symptoms

As alcohol and drugs begin to leave the body, you will typically begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. The severity of these symptoms will vary from person to person depending on how long the person has been using, the amount they have been using, the types of substances used, and general mental and physical health. Withdrawal can result in a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms including:

  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Shaking and shivering
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Nightmares and vivid dreams
  • High temperature and/or chills
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Intense drug or alcohol cravings
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Seizures

4. Medication-Assisted Treatment

The clinical staff can administer medications as withdrawal symptoms arise. Several types of medications are used in detox to ease symptoms and ensure patient safety. Generally, you can expect intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, which can be a more dangerous side effect of withdrawals. Which medications are given depending on the substance being detoxed and the symptoms experienced. Some medications you can expect during the detox include:

  • Acamprosate – FDA-approved medication to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms and cravings by reducing the brain’s dependence on alcohol.
  • Anticonvulsants – used to prevent or manage seizures in severe addiction cases.
  • Antidepressants – these drugs can correct chemical imbalances responsible for changes in mood and behavior and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. They can be used in long-term recovery as well.
  • Anti-nausea and anti-diarrheal medications – some of these can be over-the-counter medications to ease digestive distress often seen in withdrawal from all types of substances.
  • Antipsychotics – used for patients with certain co-occurring disorders or for patients who experience hallucinations, paranoia, and delirium during withdrawals.
  • Benzodiazepines – can help reduce anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, and seizures during the detox process.
  • Buprenorphine, Suboxone, and Methadone – used to treat opioid-dependent patients and help the body slowly taper off opioids.
  • Modafinil – treats excessive sleepiness and tiredness.

5. Blackout Period

Typically during the first phase of detox and recovery, you can expect a blackout period, where your contact with anyone outside the treatment facility is restricted. You will not be able to make or receive phone calls, have visitors, or go on outings. Depending on the facility, this period can last between three to seven days. While this may be scary to both you and your loved ones, it allows you to fully concentrate on the healing process.

6. Individual Therapy

As your withdrawal symptoms begin to subside, you can expect to begin meeting one-on-one with counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists in the treatment facility. This allows you to explore your addiction and find solutions to how to meet your recovery goals. It can provide an opportunity to begin rehab and know what to expect to heal from addiction.

7. Group Therapy

Group therapy is an important part of addiction treatment overall. You may begin group counseling while in detox which can help you learn what is happening to you during detox, reduces loneliness, creates community, and can receive therapy with others. Hearing what others have gone through or are currently going through can also relieve anxiety and apprehension about the detox process. Also, seeing how others have come out the other side can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel when you are going through something so physically and emotionally difficult.

8. Holistic Therapies

Depending on the treatment facility, you may also have access to holistic therapies during detox which will help the body detox naturally. Treatments such as vitamin therapy, massage therapy, meditation, and yoga can also help ease withdrawal symptoms. Part of holistic treatment is also nutrition and you may expect a treatment facility to include nutritious, organic meals as part of your program to strengthen the body and help the detox process.

9. Preparation for Drug and Alcohol Rehab

After detox, you will be prepared to enter drug and alcohol rehab. While rehab is not required, it is important to remember that detox is only the first step in the recovery process and only addresses the physical aspects of addiction. Counselors will guide you on the next steps to take and help you create an aftercare program that can include several levels of care in rehab, including inpatient and outpatient treatment.

Getting Professional Help with Detox and Withdrawal

The hardest part of quitting drug and alcohol use is often the initial stages of withdrawal. Individuals who attempt to detox from substance abuse on their own are often unsuccessful and quickly relapse. Getting professional help with detox and withdrawal will set you up for success and eliminate unnecessary physical and mental pain associated with the process.

Getting professional detox treatment will not only help you succeed in ridding your body of toxic substances, but it will also set you up for successful rehab programs. You are more likely to enter a rehabilitation program that will address the root cause of your substance use disorder and provide you with the necessary tools and skills to manage cravings and triggers.

There are several factors to consider when choosing the right treatment facility. Finding a detox center that uses clinically evidence-based detox methods such as medication-assisted treatment is important. You should also consider the type of environment you prefer since some treatment facilities offer more comfortable, non-hospital settings. The best detox facilities will also have third-party accreditations such as from the Joint Commission, which indicates they meet the highest quality of care.

The Detox Center of LA is the Right Place for Detox and Withdrawal Treatment

Finding the right detox facility will bring you to The Detox Center of Los Angeles, We are part of a nationwide network of addiction treatment facilities located across the US. Patients can detox in-house safely and comfortably in our non-hospital setting center. Every treatment plan is personalized and overseen by a team of board-certified nurses, doctors, and counselors. We use FDA-approved medications, holistic therapies, and counseling to ease withdrawal and ensure each patient successfully detoxifies. Patients can then easily transition into our inpatient rehab program upon completing detox for their best chance at long-term recovery.

The Detox Center of Los Angeles is a small 6-bed luxury detox and rehab center that allows us to focus further care on each patient. Our treatment facility includes several amenities including an outside lounge area, in-unit laundry rooms, housekeeping services, a basketball court, movie nights, and a fully stocked fridge. Patients can work on their health through our meditation, yoga, and exercise classes as well. We also believe in healing the body, mind, and spirit together during recovery including following a healthy, nutritious, and proper diet. Our private chef will prepare nutrient-rich meals to restore neurotransmitter production and heal vital organs.

If you or a loved one are ready to stop using drugs or alcohol, do not go through the process alone. Give The Detox Center of Los Angeles a call today at (888) 346-4350, any time day or night. We may be able to admit you into our detox program on the same day.


Contact Us

Will my insurance cover treatment for addiction?

The Detox Center of L.A. accepts most major insurance providers and private healthcare policies. We offer free insurance verification as well as eligibility and benefits for both behavioral and mental health treatment services. Please fill out our insurance verification form here to verify your insurance.

What happens in addiction

Effective addiction treatment programs are tailored to each individual. Because of this, it will be a different experience for everyone. However, it generally involves a combination of detoxification, group and individual therapy, educational presentations, and aftercare planning in order to ensure long-term recovery. Upon arrival at The Detox Center of L.A., you can expect our professionally trained staff to create an individualized treatment plan based on your needs and treatment goals.