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What is Drug Addiction Detox?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 17, 2024
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Detox, a shortened version of detoxification, is a cleansing. A drug addiction detox refers to a process where the body is cleansed of one or more substances a person has a habit of consuming. Many people make the mistake of using drug addiction detox as an alternate name for a drug treatment program. It should be noted, however, that this cleansing process is generally only part of a treatment program.

To understand drug addiction detox and the role that it plays in overcoming addiction, it can be helpful to have a good understanding of the word “physiology.” This term refers to normal bodily functions. When a person develops a drug habit, she tampers with the normal functioning of her body. The substances she consumes can affect numerous internal processes, and her body will eventually become accustomed to an alternate mode of operation, which explains the dependence on the substance.

When a person wants to overcome her addiction, she must stop consuming the addictive substance. Drug addiction detox refers to the process of ridding the body of the substance and by-products that may result from the substance. In many instances, this process will result in withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms can be physical or psychological. Physical symptoms can include vomiting, shaking, and cramping. Psychological symptoms can include depression, anxiety, or hallucinations.

Withdrawal symptoms result because the body must adjust to a new physiology, or mode of operation. A substance the body has relied upon is no longer available. Therefore, the body tries to return to its natural way of functioning, which in some cases may not be completely possible.

In some instances, drug addiction detox can be dangerous. Abstaining from a substance may require professional help to ensure a person does not jeopardize her health further. Sometimes alternate substances are given to individuals to help minimize the effects they experience during detoxification.

Although a person may stop taking drugs, it is believed that residue from the substances can remain in the body for years. Some professionals suggest additional steps, such as regular use of a sauna, should be taken to address this possibility. These individuals believe the residues that remain in a person’s body are connected to long-term adverse effects which can be avoided, such as cravings and mood disorders.

If drug addiction detox is successful, the body is cleansed of addictive substances. This does not mean a person has completely overcome addiction. Detoxification is often just the first step. Many people require counseling, therapy, and life skills training.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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