One important aspect of recovery from alcohol/drug abuse is detoxification. A lot of individuals have taken that first step but have done in wrongly. In this article, we shall look at how to take your first step to redemption from alcohol and drugs addictions in the right way.

What Is Detoxification?

The term “detoxification” can mean a lot of things in medicine. For the purpose of this article, we shall look at detox from the angle of alcohol and drugs i.e. opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohols.

A patient that requires detox from alcohol (alcohol detox) will be required to stop the intake of alcohol. In order to allow the body to cope with the abrupt stop in the supply of alcohol, medications which have moderate side effects are administered. Medications belonging to the Benzodiazepine family such as oxazepam (Serax), lorazepam (Ativan), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), and diazepam (Valium) are used for alcohol detox. There are times alcohol detox uses other classes of medications like barbiturates and anti-seizure medications.

Most of the alcohol detox usually kickstarts 24-hours after evaluation. During this period of time, the patient's vital signs such as the ability to walk, respiration, pulse and blood pressure are used to determine the type of medication that will best suit the individual. There is a gradual reduction in the dosage administered on daily basis. The treatment process lasts for 5 days after which the individual is completely detoxed from alcohol.

There is a general approach that can be adopted in order to detox from benzodiazepines. The patient’s intake is gradually reduced on a daily basis. This detoxing process takes a longer time as compared with that of alcohol. This can last for several months as an outpatient. During this detoxing, the vital signs of the individual are taken on a daily basis throughout the treatment process and the use of non-benzodiazepine medications can be employed in reducing the discomfort associated with withdrawal.

Opioid detox is carried out by replacing the illicit opioids used by the patient with methadone, buprenorphine and other safely prescribed medications containing opioids.

Potential Effects of Withdrawing from Alcohol and Drugs

There are slight discomforts that are associated with withdrawal from alcohol and drugs, some of them are listed below:

  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Leg cramps
  • Mild to severe anxiety
  • Nausea
  • A runny nose
  • Shaky hands
  • A strong craving for the drugs and alcohol.
  • Vomiting
  • Watery eyes


The severe cases of withdrawal can be very life threatening and can lead to delirium tremens and seizures.

How to identify individuals who need Detox

The need for detox depends on how long an individual has been drinking or addicted to the substance. Do not wait until the individual crash due to an overdose of the drug or alcohol. Report the case as soon as you notice it.


It is highly recommended that the patients continue with the use of some therapy even after complete detoxification. This therapy includes but is not limited to; self-help groups, individual therapy, residential treatment and outpatient treatment.


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Stephen's picture

Obviously you are not an alcoholic?

Detoxification is not the first step.  Admiting that you are powerless over alcohol, that you life is unmanagable is the first step.     ------  Stephen

eleven_eleven's picture

stephen gets a point 

stephen gets a point