Drug and Alcohol Detoxification

Drug and alcohol addicts have a very hard time kicking their habits. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only 11.2 percent of known addicts seek professional help. A whopping 41.4 percent of those who sought help, did so for alcohol abuse. Heroin and other opiates made up 20.0 percent of the other cases. One of the reasons why so few people successfully make it through rehabilitation is the fact that the detoxification process is extremely intense and painful.

When addicts go through drug and alcohol detox, they are essentially eliminating all residual traces of the chemicals from their bodies. Their bodies suffer from withdrawal side-effects, however, which makes it important for them to work with professionals during this stage of the process. Once the body builds up a tolerance for drugs and alcohol, it is difficult the stop the cravings. The side-effects can be extremely painful, both physically and emotionally.

The best way for addicts to manage drug and alcohol detox is to seek the care of medical professionals who can help wean their bodies from the chemicals. Quitting "cold turkey" can be life-threatening, depending on how addicted a person is at the time. A gradual "coming down," so to speak, managed by an expert, will allow the body to adjust to the lack of drugs and alcohol in the system.

During the drug and alcohol detox process, it is important for addicts to take a holistic look at their overall health. They need to determine what their next steps are as they complete drugs and alcohol detox and try to move on in their lives. Simply eliminating drug and alcohol consumption is not enough. Other treatments and factors need to be taken into consideration for full rehabilitation to occur. Considerations made during and after detox include:


It is important for addicts to seek help in figuring out what the root cause is of their dependency on drugs and/or alcohol. Most people turn to drugs and alcohol to escape reality, allowing the chemicals to temporarily suppress stressors. Addicts need to dig deep inside themselves and figure out why they started their habits to begin with. For some, the process of discovery will be harder than others. With the help of a good counselor, people are usually able to eventually figure out why they are altering their states of consciousness.


Medication is not the answer for all drug and alcohol addicts. In fact, it is usually effective and required for addicts hooked on hard drugs, such as codeine, dilaudid, heroin, lorcet, methadone, oxycontin, vicodin, among others. For those trying to kick their marijuana or alcohol addictions, medications are generally unnecessary.

Behavior Modification

For many addicts, a behavior modification plan needs to be in place after they go through drug and alcohol detox. If not, it is easy for them to return to their destructive behaviors which led them down this ugly path to begin with. Medical and psychological experts can help addicts establish new habits, which would ultimately help them adjust their moods, diets, and overall lifestyles.

Follow-up Treatment

Many treatment programs do not offer follow-up after a person completes their detox program. Without follow-up treatment, it is likely the addict will relapse. In fact, between 80% and 90% of addicts who seek help relapse at some point during their recovery. This only feeds the vicious addiction cycle. Unfortunately, many programs, particularly out-patient ones, skip this critical step in the process and do not follow-up with the addicts.

After addicts successfully complete drug and alcohol detox, they need to make sure they are immediately entering the next stage of the recovery process, where true rehabilitation happens. Of the factors mentioned above, it is crucial that addicts continue to seek counseling during rehab to prevent relapse. Statistics from The National Center of Drug and Alcohol Detox show that the sooner recovering addicts enter rehab treatment after detox, the less chance they will have of relapsing and going back to their old ways.

Depending on the severity of the addiction and the person's will to change, drug and alcohol detox can take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks before the addict is ready for rehabilitation. Therefore, it is critical that the addict is not going through the process alone. A support group or network of caring individuals can be extremely beneficial for the recovering addict, during and after detoxification.