What is Detox Like in Rehab?

Written by Chloe Nicosia

What is detox like in rehab? How long does drug detox take?  What happens in detox? Read on to find out.

Withdrawal is the collection of symptoms that occur when you stop using drugs or alcohol once you’ve developed a dependence. Withdrawal symptoms can be excruciating, but medical detox through a high quality treatment program can help reduce the severity of withdrawal and shorten the time it takes to detox. If you’re wondering, what is detox like in rehab? read on.

The Difference Between Addiction and Dependence

Drug dependence is different from addiction. Understanding the difference between addiction and dependence is essential for understanding the answer to the question, what is detox like in rehab?


Addiction is the result of changes in the brain’s chemical functions and physical structures that occur when you chronically abuse drugs or alcohol. Largely related to the memory, learning, and pleasure centers of the brain, these changes are powerful and affect your thought and behavior patterns. As your brain learns that it feels pleasure when you drink or do drugs–and only drugs or alcohol can produce that pleasure–it begins to produce strong cravings for the substance. These are driven by the same mechanisms that compel us to eat and procreate in order to survive. Cravings and the belief that you need the drug result in drug-seeking behaviors and a compulsion to use, even though your world may be falling apart around you exactly because of it.


While addiction is characterized by the inability to stop using drugs despite negative consequences, dependence is characterized by withdrawal symptoms that set in when you stop using.

When you abuse drugs and alcohol, your brain modifies the way it produces brain chemicals in an attempt to compensate for the effects of the drug. Over time, this leads to tolerance, which means that you need increasingly larger doses in order to get the desired effects. At some point, the brain may reach a point where it now operates more comfortably when the drug is present. Then, when you stop using, normal chemical functions of the brain rebound. The result is withdrawal symptoms, and these can be agonizing.

Detox is the process of letting all traces of drugs or alcohol leave your system so that your brain function can normalize.

What is Detox Like in Rehab?

When you enter detox through a rehab program, you may wonder, what happens in detox? Medical detox is supervised by medical and mental health professionals who will assess you and develop a detox plan based on your needs and preferences. This plan will likely involve medication, which will be given as needed to reduce the severity of your symptoms and shorten the detox timeline.

High quality treatment centers will offer complementary therapies in addition to medication. Restorative yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, and other complementary therapies have been proven through a large body of research to help reduce symptoms such as cravings, anxiety, insomnia, and nausea.

Detox in rehab offers a comfortable place to withdraw from drugs or alcohol, and it provides crucial medical and emotional support during the detox process.

How Long Does Drug Detox Take?

Next to what is detox like in rehab?, one of the most common questions is, how long does drug detox take?

The answer is tricky, because the duration of detox depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The length and severity of your dependence.
  • The type of drug you’re detoxing from.
  • The amount of the drug in your system at the time of detox.
  • Your state of physical and mental health at the time of detox.
  • Whether or not you’re given medication.
  • Your unique biology and genetic makeup.

In general, it takes from around a week to around two weeks for symptoms to subside. Unfortunately, once detox is complete, you will probably continue to experience cravings, which may last for some time. That’s why it’s crucial that treatment follows detox.

Detox is Not Treatment

Detox only takes care of your physical dependence on drugs or alcohol. Addiction is far more complex than dependence, and so is treating it. Ending an addiction typically requires considerable therapy to help you re-learn healthy ways of thinking and behaving and learn to cope effectively with triggers like stress and cravings. Detox without treatment has very poor outcomes for long-term recovery. One study found that 48 percent of meth users who engaged in treatment after detox were sober three months later, compared to just seven percent of those who only went to detox. Other drugs have similar relapse rates without treatment.

Detox and addiction treatment are essential for successful long-term recovery. BAC can help you find a high-quality detox and treatment program to get you on the road to long-term sobriety once and for all. Contact us today, and reclaim your health, wellbeing, and quality of life. Call now at 1-800-429-7690.