What Are The Side Effects Of Drug Detox?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 11, 2021

Detox is typically step one for people seeking addiction recovery. There are a number of side effects that occur during detox, some that can be life-threatening. Knowing what to expect can help someone prepare for the process.

Common Side Effects Of Alcohol And Drug Detox

The decision to seek sobriety is not made lightly. There are a number of things to consider, but many people struggle with the withdrawal symptoms they experience when they stop abusing drugs or alcohol.

Each drug has its own side effects and withdrawal symptoms, and even more complications can occur if a person has polysubstance abuse issues (abusing more than one drug at the same time).

Some of the side effects of withdrawal can be managed as part of a medically supervised detox program. These programs allow people to detox in a safe, monitored environment.

Learn more about alcohol and drug detox

Side Effects Of Drug Detox

Detoxing from drugs can result in a variety of side effects. Which side effects you experience and for how long may depend on different factors.

Typical side effects of detox from specific substances:

  • cocaine — irritability, anxiety, lethargy, depression, hunger, aggravation
  • benzodiazepines — panic attacks, fever, blood pressure spike, sweating, sleeping issues, hallucinations, seizures
  • opioids — extreme flu-like symptoms, anxiety, cramping, restless legs, insomnia

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Factors That Affect Side Effects During Detoxification

Depending on the drugs being abused and the intensity of addiction, factors that may determine the side effects you experience may include:

  • method of abuse (smoking, injecting, snorting, swallowing)
  • length of abuse
  • individual health factors

For example, a person who has abused large amounts of different drugs for several years will experience significantly intense withdrawal symptoms.

In contrast, a person who only abuses drugs on occasion will have fewer side effects when they stop.

How Long Do The Effects Of Drug Detox Last?

The length of time a person experiences withdrawal from drugs can vary.

However, on average, cocaine withdrawal can last for 10 days or more, benzo detox can last several weeks, and opioid withdrawal symptoms last an average of five days.

Are Side Effects Of Drug Detox Preventable?

Drug detox side effects are not entirely preventable, but medically supervised detox programs can lessen the severity.

These programs are individualized and provide continuous care, helping you to manage physical symptoms with medication and other interventions.

A person who is going through drug detox can help this process by:

  • taking all medications as prescribed
  • drinking enough water to remain hydrated
  • seeking help as soon as they stop abusing substances
  • following up with a substance abuse treatment program when detox is over

Attending A Drug Rehab Program That Offers Detox

With all the addiction treatment options out there, it may seem complicated to find one that is the best option for you or your loved one.

Let us help you sift through resources. Reach out to our helpline today, our staff is ready and waiting for your call.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on October 11, 2021
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