Drug Detox Myths Debunked

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Drug detox myths abound, and separating fact from fiction is important for getting the help you need to end your dependence on drugs or alcohol.

Drug detox is the first step of addiction treatment if you’ve developed a dependence on alcohol. But drug detox is often shrouded in mystery, and drug detox myths that persist can discourage you from getting the help you need. Here are the facts behind the most common myths about the drug detox process.

Myth: Drug detox is extremely painful.

Fact: You’ve probably seen movies or heard stories about the horrors of detox: The writhing in pain, the fever, chills, and nausea, the hallucinations and seizures. While detox can be a nightmare if you go it alone, medical drug detox is actually designed to address and relieve the discomforts of withdrawal.

Withdrawal is the result of dependence, which occurs when changes in your brain’s chemical function reach a point where your brain begins to operate more comfortably when drugs are present. When you stop using a substance, normal chemical function of the rebounds, and this causes the onset of withdrawal symptoms.

During the drug detox process, medical and mental health professionals are on hand to administer medications as needed to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and even shorten the duration of the detox process.

Myth: Drug detox is only for heroin dependence.

Fact: Chronic abuse of any psychoactive substance can lead to dependence, including alcohol, cocaine, prescription drugs, and marijuana. The withdrawal symptoms for each drug are different, and they can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the drug abuse and other factors. But drug detox myths like this still persist, and they prevent people who need detox from getting help.

Drug detox is absolutely essential for alcohol dependence and dependence on prescription benzodiazepines like Klonopin or Valium. That’s because withdrawal from these substances can be dangerous or even fatal. But dangerous shifts in blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature resulting from alcohol or benzo withdrawal can be successfully prevented or treated through the drug detox process.

Myth: If you relapse during detox, it’s all over.

Fact: Relapse during detox isn’t uncommon. One withdrawal symptom all substances have in common is intense cravings. The cravings alone can lead back to using if you’re detoxing on your own at home, and other withdrawal symptoms can be severe enough to send you back to using if only to make them stop.

Medical drug detox through a high-quality program is essential for helping you succeed the first time. But if you don’t succeed right off the bat, all is not lost. For some, it takes more than one shot at detox to successfully end a dependence on drugs or alcohol, and that’s okay.

Myth: Detox only takes a couple of days.

Fact: The detox process timeline varies, depending on a number of factors, including:

  • The type of drug you’re dependent on.
  • The length and severity of your dependence.
  • How much of the substance is in your system at the time of detox.
  • Your age.
  • Your general state of physical and mental health.

The length of time it takes to fully detox can range from a few days to a week or more. For some substances, certain withdrawal symptoms can persist for weeks or even months. For example, the depression associated with cocaine detox can last for several months. Cravings, too, may persist for months, no matter what the substance.

Medical detox helps reduce the length of time it takes to detox, and medications can help control symptoms that continue even after all traces of the substance are out of your body.

Myth: Detox is the same thing as addiction treatment.

Fact: This is one of the most common drug detox myths and addiction myths, and it’s easily the most damaging. The truth is, addiction and dependence are not the same thing. Drug detox ends the physical dependence on drugs or alcohol, but addiction is far more complex than dependence.

Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug use despite negative consequences, and it almost always has underlying causes, such as a co-occurring mental illness, chronic stress, or a history of trauma. During treatment, a variety of therapies help you address the underlying causes of an addiction. They help you develop the essential coping skills you need to cope with cravings and stress for the long-term, and they help you re-train your brain to think in healthier ways.

The Truth About Drug Detox

Don’t believe the drug detox myths and addiction myths you hear. Drug detox is an essential part of treatment, and it works. Detoxing at a high-quality treatment center will help you end your dependence in comfort, and the addiction treatment that follows will help you successfully end your addiction for the long-term.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.