Detox: The Basics and Beyond

For anyone committing to recovery from addiction, detoxing from drugs, alcohol, or other toxins is the first definite step toward getting clean.

You or your loved one might be impatient to start the recovery process but a full detox is the first crucial step in the process. When you detox from drugs, it causes your body to flush out toxins from your system, then, the real work of recovery can begins.

Detoxing from drugs takes between 7 and 11 days, and detox from drugs in a professional treatment center is by far the most effective option. Depending on the bare situation of each person, detoxing from drugs can lead to fatality. Comfort is the most important topic at hand.

As with all aspects of addiction, the more you educate yourself, the easier the process will be. It won’t be easy, but it will be easier.

Once you’re aware of what kind of substances call for a formal detox and you understand some of the simple steps you can take to maximize the efficiency of detoxing, you can more readily view this stage of your journey as an inspiring challenge and the first clear commitment to being open to life-long recovery.

What Is Detox?

Detoxification, often abbreviated to detox, is a general process of ridding your body of the toxins.

In the case of alcohol or substance abuse, detox relates explicitly to the period it takes your body to metabolize these toxins and clear out the toxic influence.

Formal detox programs, usually conducted in a (link) drug treatment center, focus on three core objectives:

  1. Helping your body process these unwanted toxins as safely and comfortably as possible
  2. Effectively managing withdrawal symptoms, whether mild or acute, often with the aid of tapered medication
  3. Creating a platform for ongoing treatment once detox is complete to ensure a seamless transition into recovery proper

Detox From Drugs

With this type of formal detox, there are two broad categories:

  • Medically Assisted Detox
  • Clinically-Managed Social Detox

Medically Assisted Detox

In chronic cases of alcohol or substance abuse where ongoing treatment is essential, it’s generally best to start the process with medically assisted detox.

Under the care of medical and mental health professionals, the potentially painful withdrawal symptoms from severe addiction can be better managed. The risk of any medical complications and, if they occur, you’re in the best place for immediate treatment.

Often but not always, medication will be administered to help reduce the inevitable cravings, and also to promote sleep and rest.LesThis is almost always the case with opiate and opioid detox.

Clinically-Managed Social Detox

Anyone wanting to stop using drink or drugs can do so using a short-term, non-medical strategy.

Strategy varies from a basic room in a social setting to peer and professional support systems but the premise is the same: stop using while simultaneously flushing the body of all toxins.

This type of detox doesn’t work well in the case of chronic addiction. For this, in-patient treatment is by far the most sensible approach.

What Type of Substances Require Detox Treatment?

We’ll look at specific detox treatments in more detail below, but here are the main groups of substances that call for the body to flushed thoroughly from toxins before recovery can begin…

  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines (Valium, Klonopin, Xanax)
  • Cocaine/Crack
  • Ecstasy
  • Heroin/Opiates
  • Methamphetamine
  • Opioids (hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl)

Just like treatment for addiction, detox demands a personalized approach. Much depends on the substance in question along with the level of dependence, and this is why, in the case of the substances above in particular, in-patient detox yields the greatest chance of success married to the lowest possible risk.

Since this is by no means always necessary, we’ll look now at some more general ways you can help your body to detox if addiction is not chronic, if dependence is not at unmanageable levels, and if you decide that a home detox is the best approach.

Even if you plan to detox in a treatment center, it’s still worth familiarizing yourself with ways you can help yourself, both in the short-term as you detox and also as you enter recovery properly.

Forewarned is forearmed.

10 General Detox Basics: Help Yourself

Here are some key areas that can help your body to rid itself of those toxins that have built up through sustained abuse of drink or drugs.

With these toxins gone from your system, you get a fresh start and can start down the road to recovery with your body in the best shape possible.

  1. Sever The Source
  2. Hydration
  3. Nutrients
  4. Flushing Out Toxins
  5. Sleep More
  6. Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine
  7. Keep Stress Levels Down
  8. Lose Some Fat
  9. Consider Fasting
  10. Massage Therapy Works

1) Sever The Source

It might seem a statement of the obvious, but detox can’t take place until you stop using the substance in question entirely.

The quicker you stop using, the faster the body can start to shed those toxins.

2) Hydration

Alcohol, in particular, dehydrates your body chronically. The side effects of dehydration range from headaches and muscle pain to general fatigue. None of these leave you in the best shape to start your recovery.

By drinking a minimum of 2 liters of water daily, you can immediately start combating the above issues.

An inbuilt advantage of rehydrating your body is that water is a natural detox agent. Flushing out your system, the chemical and toxins along with fat and other unwanted residue leaves your body. The more water you drink, the more powerful the flushing effect.

Keep a small bottle of water with you at all times and regularly take small sips. This approach is better than trying to periodically down large glasses and also works to condition you away from the excessive actions leading to addiction. Every little helps. Again, depending on the situation we recommend calling a drug addiction treatment center.

3) Nutrients Are Key

How did all these toxins enter your body in the first place?

You ingested them in one way or another.

It makes sense, then, to start replacing these harmful habits and taking nutrients on board to make your body fitter, stronger, and better placed to cope with recovery.

Nutrients are vital; we’ll give you a look at some specific examples below. If your detox takes place in a residential setting, you can expect nutritious meals and supplements as standard. If you are detoxing at home, you should be aware of what works well.

In general, avoid sugars and bad fats. Although it’s hard to cut down on processed foods and refined foods should also be cut down since they contain almost no nutrients and are harder for your body to digest. Controlling your diet is a crucial step in managing your life.

Juicing is an excellent method of getting more nutrients into your system than you could comfortably eat. Juicing is especially valuable if drinking or using drugs has diminished your appetite. However, some may look into some whole30 diet (link) or another diet that gives clear proteins and shy away from processed food.

Eating whole, unprocessed food with an abundance of fresh fruit and veg will give your body all the minerals and vitamins it needs to detox and start functioning better as you begin your recovery.

4) Flushing Out Toxins With Exercise

As you focus on putting good things into your body, another way of eliminating those toxins is by exercising at a rate in line with your fitness levels.

Increasing your heart rate and sweating, you can accelerate the departure of those lingering toxins.

By exercising, your body will also produce endorphins in your brain so you can get a mental boost as well as those physical benefits.

If you’re in no shape at all to exercise meaningfully, saunas are an excellent method of getting rid of toxins and chemicals through your skin through sweating.

5) Sleep More

If you’ve been drinking heavily or abusing drugs, chances are your sleeping habits have deteriorated.

To detox effectively and to strengthen your body naturally, aim for a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. If you are detoxing in a residential facility, medication can be administered to help here in the short-term.

6) Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine

Not only are coffee and cigarettes harmful toxins in and of themselves, but they can also negatively impact your sleeping patterns.

Beyond this, both caffeine and nicotine act as addiction triggers and can increase your chances of relapse before recovery is properly underway.

7) Keep Stress Levels Down

It goes unsaid if you’re at the point of quitting drink or drugs for good, your stress levels are likely high.

Do all you can to remove as many stressors from your life as possible. If you admit to an in-patient facility, much of this is done for you, another advantage of residential treatment. Not only is there professional help and observations but people there who would love nothing more than see you on the road to recovery.

Relax as best you can given the circumstances since the stress hormone cortisol is not only harmful to your overall health but also detrimental to your detox from drug process.

8) Lose Some Fat

Toxins bind to the fat cells of your body.

By exercising and eating more healthily, you can naturally lose fat so you won’t just look better and feel better, the reduced fat in your body will give those toxins fewer places to hide.

9) Consider Fasting

Something you should only really consider after seeking medical advice, a short fast can help your body take a break from the toxins and processed foods that have been going in and help with healing and cleansing.

10) Massage Therapy Works

If all the above sounds like hard work – and, let’s face it, recovery is hard work – treat yourself to a massage.

Not only will this bring your stress levels down and relax you, a professional massage can also help your body to start releasing toxins more efficiently.

Effect of Toxins on the Kidneys and Liver

Your liver traps toxins and converts them into chemicals slightly less harmful to your body. These chemicals are then released into the blood or bile.

Here, the kidneys come into play and catch the chemicals released before getting rid of them through urine.

So far, so good.

The problem arises when drinking or drug abuse causes the liver to become drastically impaired in function. Toxins release into the bloodstream without being converted. While the kidney and liver work in tandem, if the liver fails in its job and kicks out unconverted toxins, the kidneys bear the full brunt of this damage.

This summary should make you aware not only of the havoc drink, and drugs are inflicting on your internal organs, but also how toxins build up to the extent they need flushing out to kickstart the recovery process.

The Importance of Nutrition During and After Detox

If you’re detoxing at home, or perhaps you’ve finished up with a residential medical detox, and you’re now back at home, you might be stuck for ideas on what foods can help your body on an ongoing basis when it comes to processing toxins.

Incorporate some of these foods into your diet, and you’ll see definite positive effects…

  • Avocados: Rich in Omega-3s, avocados can help to mitigate cravings while also offering some positive benefits against depression
  • Citrus Fruits: Rather than relying on the kick of a double espresso, kickstarting your day with warm water with lemon or lime juice helps to get your digestive system going while flushing out toxins at the same time. Citrus fruits also give your liver a helping hand to process those accumulated toxins
  • Garlic: Garlic also helps the liver to produce detoxifying enzymes that root out that residue of toxins in your digestive tract
  • Green Tea: The catechins in green tea are a powerful antioxidant. Although it’s an acquired taste, if you can stomach it then green tea will improve liver function, key during detox
  • Leafy Greens: Green leafy vegetables contain chlorophyll that helps your body to shift a range of toxins. High in dietary fiber, leafy greens also give your digestion a boost and clean out the intestines.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Fiber-rich nuts like almonds and walnuts along with seeds such as chia seeds or flax seeds, perform a similar role to leafy greens sweeping the intestines clear
  • Parsley: Leaching onto any impurities in your intestines and aiding the disposal of these toxins, sprinkle parsley over your pasta liberally
  • Wild-Caught Fish: Another wholesome food packed with Omega-3s, get as much wild-caught fish into your diet as possible when detoxing

The Drawbacks and Dangers of Natural Home Detox

As we mentioned, detoxing at home is something many people attempt, but is it wise or even safe?

Like all elements of addiction and recovery, the accurate answer is that it depends.

At home detox is likely to be natural and to harness many of the elements above to help your body speedily discharge all those harmful toxins and prepare you and your system for ongoing recovery. As such, you are unlikely to receive medication. In many instances, this can be inadvisable and downright dangerous.

Detoxing is home can work but, more often than not, unmanaged withdrawal symptoms and cravings and absence of professional support around the clock can overpower any desire to sober up.

If you have been drinking heavily, using benzodiazepines, opioids or stimulants like cocaine, quitting without medical supervision is unwise. Not only is it unlikely to be successful, but you could also even suffer from life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

You might think withdrawal from opiates like heroin would provoke even worse withdrawal effects, but they are not generally life-threatening. That said, there could still be an extreme response, and you’re also likely to do anything you can to get more opiates and stop that pain if not admitted to a residential center. Beyond this, death can occur due to dehydration or malnourishment, issues that will not arise given proper medical supervision.


If you’re in any doubt at all, contact us to help better assessing your options.


In the majority of cases with chronic addiction, medically supervised detox is the safest and by far the most effective method so what can you expect?

Medical Detox Treatment: The Safest Strategy

The precursor to recovery, indeed the very first critical step on a long but rewarding journey, medical detox treatment allows you to see all those toxins eliminated from your system throughout 5 to 10 days – sometimes longer – in relative comfort.

According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), the average length of detox is less than eight days.

Closely monitoring patients is essential if you check into a drug treatment center. Depending on the substance, previous health records, and psychiatric needs detox from core drugs can be painful. It’s truly best for everyone to get in touch with a treatment center as you experience acute withdrawal. You’ll enjoy nutrient-dense meals, supplements as required and all you’ll receive all the support and care you need.

Treatment centers take it into their own hands to administer prescribed medications if it’s considered necessary to combat symptoms of acute withdrawal. In a controlled setting and with no chance of abuse, this medication will be given on a tapered schedule so you won’t replace one addiction with another.

Medication can include any of the following:

  • To Treat Opioid Withdrawal: Suboxone or Methadone
  • To Treat Alcohol Withdrawal: Campral or Antabuse
  • To Treat Symptoms of Anxiety: Lorazepam or Hydroxyzine
  • To Combat Cravings for Drugs or Alcohol: Vivitrol
  • To Help with Sleep: Ambien
  • To Treat Potential Seizures: Diazepam
  • To Regulate Blood Pressure: Clonidine

Detox treatments vary according to the substance at hand. Here are some specific examples:

Alcohol Detox

Acute withdrawal symptoms from alcohol abuse are gone within a week. After this stage, symptoms can present from several months to 2 years after you discontinue use.

During a medical detox, you’ll learn how to manage these post-acute symptoms while you’ll be helped through the worst of the withdrawal process as comfortable as possible.

What symptoms can you expect to experience?

Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Memory and Focus Issues
  • Nausea
  • Racing Heart
  • Shaking and Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

FDA-Approved Medications

  • For Reduced Withdrawal Symptoms: Acamprosate
  • To Stop an Enzyme That Metabolizes Alcohol: Disulfiram
  • To Block Opioid Receptors in The Brain: Naltrexone

Opioid and Opiate Detox

Whether you’re detoxing from opiates like heroin or opioid painkillers, detox in a residential center can make things much more comfortable.

Withdrawal symptoms are broadly similar to detoxing from alcohol and you can expect to experience any of the following:

Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Agitation
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Inability to Feel Pleasure
  • Irritability
  • Memory and Focus Issues
  • Nausea
  • Racing Heart
  • Shaking and Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Unpleasant Dreams
  • Vomiting

FDA-Approved Medications

  • Prevent Withdrawal and Reduce Cravings: Methadone
  • Reduce Withdrawal Symptoms but Without Euphoria: Buprenorphine
  • Block Opioid Receptors in The Brain and Prevent Relapse: Naltrexone

Treatment Planning and Intake

If you decide that you require a medical detox in a residential setting, and you choose to come to Vita Nova at Newport Bay, what can you expect?

Initially, you’ll go through a comprehensive intake assessment working with our team. The purpose is to formulate a completely personalized treatment plan.

This plan will include an accurate outline of your propose detox treatment depending on the substance in question and many other factors. You’ll be guided through how long this detox will take and what medication will be used.

Planning of your detox treatment should be considered as the first step toward a commitment to long-term recovery.

This is in line with SAMHSA’s 3 Stages of Detox:

  1. Evaluation
  2. Stabilization
  3. Build Willingness For Further Treatment

Where detox is a physical process, lasting sobriety is mental. Detoxing from drugs correctly and effectively gives you the best foundation from which to reclaim the life you deserve free of drink or drugs.