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Signs of Bodily Detox from Drugs and Alcohol

Last Updated: Sep 14th 2022

Reviewed by North Jersey Recovery Center

A bodily detox from drugs and alcohol means that your system is going through a process that can impact many bodily functions and systems. Many of these initial signs are debilitating, but they will not last forever. Discover what some of the most common signs and symptoms of detox are, so that you can reduce their effects.

Bodily Detox from Drugs and Alcohol

When a person stops abusing substances, whether slowly or abruptly, the body begins a process of withdrawal to flush the drugs out of your system. Long-term drug and alcohol use rewires the brain to a new sense of “normalcy”, making it more and more dependent on the substance to achieve that high or state of euphoria. When an individual takes a drug, it triggers various responses in the brain. 

Regardless of the type of reaction, the brain learns to adapt, creating this dependency. Complete omission of substances means the body has to re-learn the ways of the old normal, before you started using. But these processes take time. During this, the body begins to experience the effects of the drug in the system, and it begins to, in a sense, retaliate. The process of detox cleanses the body of the drug, which helps the brain make the adjustments that it needs to make.

How is a Drug Detox Important for Withdrawal?

Withdrawal in the world of substance abuse has been equated with death or feeling like death. Depending on the type of withdrawal you are dealing with, symptoms can persist for days or weeks on end. The withdrawal process is intense, but a bodily detox from drugs and alcohol can lower your risks for complications, especially when under the care of professionals in a medical detox program. Detoxing while in treatment allows you to recover from dependency while receiving the medical supervision and medications you need to be successful.

Addiction treatment specialists can help you safely detox from many substances, some of which include:

  • Alcohol
  • Opioids
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Methamphetamines
  • Cocaine

The Detoxification Process

Every person will have unique detox needs. In the drug detox process, there are 3 steps for treating the affected individual:

  • Evaluation: The evaluation process involves screening patients for physical and mental health ailments. Doctors rely on blood tests to measure the amount of drugs in a patient’s system. These tests will determine the types of medications needed.
  • Stabilization: Medical and psychological therapies are used to keep the patient stable. The goal here is to prevent any harm for the individual. Addiction treatment medications may be used at the discretion of the doctor for preventing complications.
  • Preparing for Treatment: Last but not least, preparation for treatment will be decided at this stage. Doctors bring their patients up to speed on the treatment process as well as what to expect.

Duration of Detox

As mentioned earlier, detox symptoms can appear the second you stop using, and can linger for days and weeks. It all depends on which substances were used and for how long. With heroin users, symptoms could peak within 72-96 hours, and for opioid users, it could last as long as 14 days after taking your last dose. Although the physical signs and symptoms may last for a few days or weeks, patients have every reason to be concerned about psychological symptoms too.

Signs and Symptoms of Detoxing

Signs and symptoms appear very quickly after stopping your substance. Sometimes, the onset of symptoms can occur within a few hours. The type of substance you use may illicit differing effects, but here are some signs to pay close attention to:

  • Anxiousness
  • Irritability
  • Bodily pain
  • Tremors
  • Appetite changes
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Shivers
  • Cramping

Emotionally speaking, your mood can also be volatile. Cognitively, motor reflexes may change, and some more serious symptoms of detox include delirium, seizures, or hallucinations.

Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

Psychological symptoms are more intricate in nature, so it’s best to break them down for better understanding—A variety of drugs will increase dopamine production AKA the reward and pleasure center of the brain. When a person is in recovery, the brain will reorient and relearn how to produce dopamine naturally. However, this process takes time, and psychological withdrawal can occur along with the aforementioned physical symptoms. This is probably one of the most harrowing moments of the recovery experience. Unlike physical maladies, psychological symptoms can stick around for up to two years. While symptoms are severe, it’s important to note that their severity will wane over time. Continued care programs like aftercare could help in better dealing with these symptoms. Psychological withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Bouts of depression
  • Numbness or being emotionally reactive
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Hypersensitivity to stress
  • Decrease in motivation
  • Erratic mood changes

So, what are some viable treatment options for psychological withdrawals? Some of the 3 most popular evidence-based treatment approaches used here include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, or motivational interviewing.

Living Life after Detox

Bodily detox from drugs and alcohol is just the first of many steps in the addiction treatment process. On its own, it is not enough to sustain one’s recovery. Patients seeking treatment need to treat every facet of their addiction. At North Jersey Recovery Center, we will guide you through every stage of this process with respect to your individual needs. To begin the process of treatment admission, contact us today! 

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by North Jersey Recovery Center

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