What Kinds of Drugs Require Detox?

All drug use will require some form of detox. Detoxification is what happens when toxins like drugs and alcohol leave the bloodstream. After a person stops using drugs, those drugs will exit the body. The amount of time that this process takes will vary depending on the type and amount of drugs that the individual used.

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During one month in 2015, 10.1% of people ages 12 and older had used illegal drugs.


Medical Detox

Although all illicit drug use should end with detox, not every drug requires medical detox. However, for addictions to drugs with dangerous withdrawal processes, medical detox provides the best choice for several reasons. First, some drugs require a tapering off process rather than a sudden stop. The “cold turkey” method can be dangerous and lead to heart problems or seizures. However, one should only try to taper off drugs with support from trained medical staff who can monitor and distribute the correct dosages. Second, medical detox can provide comfort and relief from painful withdrawal symptoms. Though different drugs produce different withdrawal symptoms, many of them can cause:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Shakiness
  • Nausea

With the right medicines, detox can ease the pain that comes from these symptoms. Finally, medical detox removes the patient from his or her old environment, taking the person away from triggers, temptations, and access to more drugs.

Opioids and Heroin

People with opioid and heroin addictions require medical supervision during detox. Opioids and heroin have similar structures, and they are both extremely addictive. An abrupt stop to use of either of these drugs can result in medical emergencies and even death. The safer route is a gradual and supervised drug reduction instead. The detox plan that most experts recommend involves a medication called methadone. Methadone is also an opioid, but as a controlled and closely-monitored substance, it can help opioid addicts overcome their physical addiction. Doctors in medical detox centers can provide methadone, giving smaller and smaller doses until the patient no longer needs opioids at all.


Alcohol acts as a depressant, meaning that it slows down the central nervous system (CNS). When the CNS gets used to the alcohol, it speeds itself up, working hard to accommodate daily life under the influence of alcohol. When the addicted person stops using alcohol, the CNS keeps working on overdrive until it realizes that it no longer has to fight against itself. As a result, alcohol withdrawal often comes with sleeplessness and nervousness. Some people return to drinking alcohol just to get relief from the withdrawal symptoms. In a medical facility, however, staff members can provide benzodiazepines, or anti-anxiety medication, to calm down the CNS and allow the individual to relax and sleep. The controlled environment and gradual tapering mean that the individual does not risk trading one addiction for another.

Do you have an addiction to alcohol or other drugs? Rehab Info can help. Call 800-492-QUIT.


Interestingly, benzodiazepines are among the drugs that require medical detox. As stated above, benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety medications. Brand names include Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin. These drugs treat panic attacks and sleeplessness caused by anxiety. While effective, they’re also addictive. Like alcohol, benzodiazepines work by slowing down the CNS, so withdrawal symptoms will include restlessness, anxiety, and insomnia. During medical detox, doctors can help patients quit the medication by gradually tapering off the dosage. This controlled reduction prevents relapse and provides a gentler recovery for the CNS.

Other Reasons to Seek Detox

Other drugs such as meth, cocaine, and over the counter medications come with less dangerous detox processes. However, those who use these drugs may also consider detoxing in a medical facility. Medical detox facilities remove the possibility of relapse during the detox process. With no access to the drug of choice, patients cannot disrupt the detox process and will have virtually guaranteed success during this phase of recovery. Those who don’t have a strong support system at home and those who deal with other mental health issues such as depression might also consider medical detox, whether or not they’re addicted to a drug that requires it.

After Detox

It’s very important to keep in mind that addiction treatment does not end with detox. Managing an addiction is a lifelong process that requires a proactive approach. After detox, a person with an addiction should check into a rehab facility. Some rehab facilities include medical detox, so patients don’t have to travel from detox to rehab. Rehab programs generally last from 1 to 3 months, and they provide different forms of therapy to help participants recover. After rehab, addicted individuals could benefit from regular therapy sessions. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has proven especially helpful in addiction treatment. Furthermore, support networks such as 12 Step groups can provide a sense of community and keep addicted individuals accountable for their recovery.

Finding Your Best Treatment Options

If you’re looking for detox and rehab for drug addiction, we’re here to help. At Rehab Info, we understand that all of this information can become overwhelming. That’s why our trained staff are waiting to help you go over your available options so that you can make the right choice.

Addiction is scary, but you don’t have to deal

with it by yourself. Call Rehab Info today. You can reach us at 800-492-QUIT.
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