What is the Difference Between Detox and Withdrawal?

Is you or someone you love facing a substance use disorder and ready for treatment? If so, understanding the difference between drug detox and withdrawal is an imperative part of the healing process. While both processes are connected to stopping drug abuse, withdrawal and detox are different in terms of their goals, experiences, and timelines. Let’s dive in and explore the differences between drug detox and withdrawal, and how the free online tool SBIRT can assist you in finding nearby treatment options tailored to your specific needs.

What Is Detoxification, Or “Detox”?

Drug detoxification, often referred to as detox, is the first major step when you or your loved one is ready to treat substance abuse. It refers to the entire process of halting substance use and all the ripple effects that you endure as a result of stopping your use. In detoxification, you focus on removing toxins from the body and managing withdrawal symptoms. Here’s what to expect during drug detoxification.

Medical Supervision: If you require detoxification, it is best conducted under medical supervision to ensure your safety and well-being. This may be at an inpatient or residential facility where healthcare professionals can administer medication or other treatments to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and manage any potential complications.

Withdrawal Symptoms: As your body adjusts to the absence of the substance, you may experience withdrawal symptoms as described below. 

Duration: Drug detox can last from a few days to several weeks. The length of time it takes for you to detox depends on the substance, your overall health, and the presence of any co-occurring medical or mental health conditions. 

Once your body and mind have adjusted to the absence of your preferred substance, you are out of the detox phase and ready to move onto the next stages of treatment and recovery.

What Is Withdrawal? How Long Does It Last?

drug withdrawal and detox

Withdrawal typically occurs when you abruptly stop or significantly reduce your drug use. Withdrawal is a part of detoxification and has more to do with the body’s reaction to the absence of the substance it has become dependent on. It also involves some of the most common psychological reactions to stopping your substance use. Here, SBIRT shares some important points about substance withdrawal.

Medical Attention: Although withdrawal is a natural process, some withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even life-threatening. Seeking medical attention during withdrawal is essential, especially in cases involving alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids. In some cases an inpatient or residential care facility is the best place to go through withdrawal. 

Onset and Duration: Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within a few hours to a few days after discontinuing substance use. The duration and intensity of withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the drug, the duration of use, and your physiological and psychological factors that affect the addiction to the substance.

Common Symptoms: As your body adjusts to the absence of substances, various withdrawal symptoms may present themselves, both physically and psychologically. Physical symptoms can include nausea, sweating, sweating, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, insomnia, muscle aches, and more. The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms depend on factors such as the substance used, duration of use, and individual factors. Psychological symptoms can range from irritability and depression to anxiety and difficulty concentrating.

SBIRT: Substance Use Disorder Intervention & Treatment

Drug detox focuses on eliminating toxins from the body and managing withdrawal symptoms, while withdrawal refers to the physical and psychological effects of stopping drug use. Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is a valuable online tool that can help you find nearby treatment options. All it takes is a click and you have access to detox treatment facilities for substance use disorder near you