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Understanding the Difference Between Detox and Withdrawal

Although they are commonly used synonymously detox and withdrawal are two things that mean differently than what most people think. Find out about what sets these two apart and just what it is they truly mean when talking about substance abuse.

When we think of quitting substance abuse the two most common words associated are detox and withdrawal. They might be closely related, however, these two terms cannot be used interchangeably. So it’s important that we understand the difference between detox and withdrawal and how they can make overcoming substance use disorder less intimidating and more manageable.

The sections below review the differences between drug, and alcohol detox, withdrawal, and the best practices for addressing substance abuse.

What is Detox?

The process of the body and mind releasing the addictive substances they have accumulated during substance usage is known as detoxification. Drugs like heroin, opioids, and alcohol can affect your physiological processes, impair your cognitive capacities, and cause your body to become dependent on the substance when consumed in high doses over a prolonged length of time. For this reason, once a person stops using drugs, the body reacts strongly and fast.

Having medical care throughout detoxification is essential because stopping drugs might have some negative side effects. Detoxing on your own without medical supervision can be quite risky. Thankfully, there are choices available for detoxification programs.

The three main categories of drug detox programs are as follows:

Inpatient detox: It guarantees that medical assistance is always available, and staying at an inpatient institution is the safest way to undergo detox. Potential withdrawal symptoms can be experienced safely thanks to the ongoing observation of medical personnel.

Outpatient detox: Compared to an inpatient program, an outpatient detox program carries a marginally increased risk of recurrence or complications. An outpatient program, however, enables patients to stay at home with their families and still receive routine medical supervision.

Medical detox: During a medical detox treatment, drugs are used to reduce some of the physical and psychological side effects of withdrawal. This approach lessens the effects of withdrawal, making it simpler.

What does Detox look like?

Detoxification can be a difficult process that includes many of the signs and symptoms of drug withdrawal. The precise side effects of detox differ based on the patient’s body chemistry, the substance they used, and how long they have been addicted. However, these are the most typical signs of detoxification:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Quick heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • muscle ache
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

It is important to have regular medical monitoring throughout the detox process because the adverse effects of detox can feel unpleasant or overpowering. Fortunately, these symptoms will eventually go away as the body learns to regulate itself without the chemical in its system.

What is Withdrawal?

When someone with a history of substance use abruptly stops using they can experience a wide range of symptoms known as withdrawal. The brain progressively develops a tolerance for the substance because alcohol and drugs interfere with the connections between neurons, impairing some brain functions. The individual eventually starts to feel as though they need to consume more to get through the day.

When a person stops drinking or using drugs, their neural system is shocked by the abrupt lack of the substance, which results in withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can be extremely mild or extremely dangerous. Recovering from a substance use disorder is significantly hampered by withdrawal because of how dangerous and severe the symptoms are.

What is the difference between Detox and Withdrawal?

The main difference between drug and alcohol detox and withdrawal is the presence of a treatment plan. Detoxification entails going through withdrawal, but it also involves giving patients the monitoring, help, and support their need to get through withdrawal. The goal of a detox program is to manage withdrawal and take care of the body until the drug is totally eliminated from the body and withdrawal has ended.

Detoxification and withdrawal should not be done at home because they can be harmful. Particularly, trying to detox from alcohol and drugs on your own can be dangerous. The best course of action is to look for detox in a secure, regulated setting with professionals who keep an eye on patients’ withdrawal symptoms and provide care.

Are you looking for help?

Find a safe space near you so that you can freely and openly express your feelings and be guided throughout your rehabilitation journey by professionals and people who are going through the same thing. Contact R&R Recovery IOP Treatment in Huntington Beach for options, consultation, and more.

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