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Understanding Detox Symptoms

The first step in the recovery process involves ridding the body of all remnants and toxins from the substance. Sometimes just thinking about going through detox can cause so much stress and fear that it might even deter treatment. By learning about what happens to the brain and body during detox, it can help prepare you for what’s ahead.

Drug and/or alcohol detox is a complex process and often has many side effects. During detox, the body and brain will react as they attempt to adjust to the sudden absence of the substance. Withdrawal from drugs or alcohol causes a certain amount of pain. You cannot avoid that fact.

So, the best way to enter treatment is with a fighting spirit, that detox is something to gut out and overcome. So what prize do you win? You get to begin the journey to a new healthy life.

What Happens to The Brain and Body During Detox

Using any substance for a prolonged time span will have a profound effect on the body and the brain. The majority of people will feel symptoms as toxins exit the body both mental and physical dependency. The substance will change the way the brain functions and can cause serious damage to your health. When preparing to begin the detox phase of treatment, it helps to know what happens during the process.

what happens to your body when you detox

Receiving a Medical Detox

During the detox process, the detox team will closely monitor your vital signs for any health events. They will control the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms to some extent through the medications they provide. These include meds to help control such symptoms as nausea and vomiting, headache, and fever.

During medical detox, the medical team administers drugs like Valium and Librium. They can reduce the symptoms of anxiety, help prevent seizures, and assist with sleep.

Some individuals may commence Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) later in the detox process. These drugs can help relieve detox symptoms and block substance cravings, which can reduce the risk of relapse. During detox, the healthcare providers also provide mental health support. This is essential, as some may give up on detox when the symptoms get really rough.

The detox support team can help inspire the person to keep looking forward. This support can truly help the person engaged in detox all the way to the end.

What to Expect During Detox

The detox experience varies quite a bit based on these factors:

  • The category of substance subject to misuse. Each has a different symptom.
  • The person’s daily consumption and the duration of substance abuse history.
  • General health status and age.
  • If there is a mental health disorder present.

A common question of those looking at detox is how long it takes to detox your body and how long detox symptoms last. During detox, you will experience three distinct stages. Symptoms commence within hours of the last dose or drink and usually peak on days 2-3 before they subside.

In most cases, individuals complete detox within one week. For a benzo detox, a two-week tapering process will gradually reduce the drug’s intake.

The Brain and Alcohol Detox

When engaged in active substance abuse, the brain makes changes as it adjusts to the presence of the substance. As the brain adapts, it begins to depend on the substance to produce dopamine. After a while, the brain simply stops producing.

Alcohol detox can be a high risk (as is benzo detox). This is because the fairly rare event called the delirium tremens, which can be fatal. Detox symptoms and timeline will vary based on how severe the alcohol use disorder (AUD) is:

For milder AUD, the detox process follows this timeline:

  • Symptoms begin about 6 hours after you stop drinking.
  • Symptoms likely to occur include sweating, upset stomach and possible vomiting, shaking, anxiety, increased heart rate, and headache.
  • Symptoms peak between 12-24 hours.
  • Detox may lasts 24-72 hours total.

For moderate to severe AUD the detox process follows this timeline:

  • Symptoms begin 2-8 hours after stopping alcohol use.
  • Other symptoms can occur such as high blood pressure, mental confusion, fever, insomnia, feeling irritated, confusion, anxiety, visions, memory problems, tremors, and paranoid thinking.
  • The DTs may develop on days 3-4 and would be a medical emergency. The symptoms include severe confusion, agitation, hallucinate, and seizures.
  • Detox process could last up to one week. If the DTs happen, symptoms can persist for two weeks.

Withholding the substance causes a sharp drop in serotonin and dopamine levels. During detox, the brain will produce a surplus of glutamate. All these chemical changes create the withdrawal symptoms, as the brain attempts to become stable. Brain-related symptoms include:

  • Feeling anxious
  • Agitation
  • Feeling Irritable
  • Sleep issues
  • Mental confusion
  • Feeling restless
  • delusions
  • Feeling depressed
  • Mood swings

The Body and Alcohol Detox

As the body purges the substance from its system it, too, will begin to signs your body is detoxing. Body systems will be in chaos during the detox process as the body attempts to adjust. Physical withdrawal symptoms might include:

  • Excessive shaking
  • Hand tremors
  • Sweating
  • Tearing of the eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures

The Body and Opiate Detox

Opiate detox begins with the first withdrawal symptoms starting between 6-12 hours after the last dose of the drug. Symptoms peak between 24-48 hours and then slowly subside. In some cases, opiate detox is completed in 5-7 days.

Sometimes, though, long-lasting effects can linger. The known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome. Detox symptoms can include:

Detox symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Teary eyes
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Restlessness
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

what happens when you detox

Staying Sober After Detox

Detox alone will not change the addict’s thought patterns and actions. Some may complete detox and feel great. They might think they can safely manage things on their own. In nearly all cases, this quickly results in a relapse.

In fact, overdose after a period of being clean occurs all too often. This happens after the brain adjusts to being sober, and then the person has a relapse. The body cannot handle that level of dosing, and the outcome can be toxic. Unfortunately, this can result in death.

Only through a treatment program rooted in proven methods can someone make these needed changes. This is because the patterns have become so entrenched that the person can’t break out of them. Only with formal treatment and support can someone overcome a severe substance use problem. With some time, patience, and effort, you can indeed break free.

LifeSync Malibu Provides Medically Supervised Detox Services

LifeSync Malibu is a private and upscale addiction rehab on a private estate in Malibu near Los Angeles California. In addition to our local clients, many of our clients travel from all parts of the country and internationally. Our Admissions Concierge is here to help you plan your travel and arrange for a private airport pickup at a location convenient for you near our facility. To learn about our confidential detox programs, please reach out to the Admissions team today at (866) 491-4426.