When someone is addicted to alcohol or drugs, they will often need to go through a detoxification (detox) process, as an important first step in their recovery from addiction.

Detox is based on the principle that someone who is physically unwell, will struggle to tackle any underlying mental health problems. Therefore, the purpose of detox is to tackle the physical side of an addiction as a first step, so that patients are prepared to address the psychological features of their addiction, as part of an intensive addiction rehab program.

What is Detox?

Detox is the process by which all traces of alcohol and drugs are removed from the body, ensuring that a person is physically stable and ready to start therapy to overcome their addiction. It is not always a part of addiction treatment but is often expected when entering rehab.

Alcohol or drug addiction results in people’s bodies becoming used to having these substances in their system. When these substances are gradually reduced and removed during detox, the brain will have to adjust to the sudden drop in these chemicals. This typically causes people to experience a set of unpleasant symptoms known as ‘withdrawal symptoms’.

The detox process aims to minimise the negative impact of withdrawal symptoms and make the experience as safe and, as comfortable as possible. The most effective form of detox is one that is medically assisted and supported by trained specialists. This usually happens within a specialist detox centre or facility, under the care of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Attempting to detox on your own is rarely successful and it is likely that people will experience unnecessary withdrawal symptoms and become de-motivated by many failed attempts.

What Happens during a Medically Assisted Drug or Alcohol Detox?

The first step in a medically assisted detox is for patients to have a thorough medical assessment,to build an accurate picture of their individual needs. During this assessment, an expert will gather information on a patient’s medical history and details about their addiction and use this to develop a personalised detox plan.


When the amount of alcohol/drugs in a patient’s system is gradually reduced, they will typically begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. Drug withdrawal symptoms, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms can be quite similar, so many people going through detox may experience similar symptoms. However, the type of withdrawal symptoms that are experienced, as well as how severe these are, depend on how long a person has been addicted to alcohol or drugs, the type of substance that they are addicted to, how much they have been consuming, and their general mental and physical health.

It is important to understand that each person experiences detox in a unique way, and each new detox is entirely different, regardless of whether someone has gone through detox previously.

Withdrawal can result in a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms.

Physical withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Shaking and shivering
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • High temperature and/or chills
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Vivid and unpleasant dreams

Psychological withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Intense cravings for the substance

The most severe withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delirium
  • Seizures


In some cases to help patients cope with withdrawal, they will be given appropriately controlled medication as part of the detox process. There is no medication that prevents all withdrawal symptoms, but some types of medication can help to ease anxiety and depression, enable sufficient sleep, and counteract as many other problems as possible.

The Solution

Often, taking the first step to achieve a goal can be the most difficult. This remains true in regard to making the choice to attend a detox program. Admitting you have a problem is the first step, and will likely be the hardest step, on the path to recovery. Once you can accept this reality, you will then be ready for what comes next. Detox programs are a very important part of that next step.

How we can Help:

Can-Am Interventions specialize in assisting individuals in all stages of recovery, including facilitating treatment plans, which include finding the best possible detox program that best accommodates your treatment plan.

For More Information:

E: patti.pike@canaminterventions.com W:www.canaminterventions.com

1-800-638-1812 Toll Free Internationally 415-827-3725 Cell /Text 415-578-2875 Office

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