Detox is the term used for the natural phase a person undergoes as a result of stopping drug or alcohol misuse. When the human body becomes accustomed to certain quantities of a mood-altering substance, it goes into a state of withdrawal when substance use ceases. Physically, the body must work to readjust how it functions, since its chemical makeup has changed. The body must also rid itself of toxins that have built up from substance use. During this process, a person will experience withdrawal symptoms, which can range from uncomfortable to severe (even dangerous). This is why a patient at a treatment center will receive supervision and sometimes Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) to mitigate the symptoms and effects of withdrawal.

Symptoms of Detox and Withdrawal

The vast majority of people who have used substances extensively or for long periods of time will experience some measure of withdrawal symptoms. Severity of symptoms will depend on the type of substance, the amount used and the duration.

Common detox symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia (or adversely, drowsiness)
  • Muscle aches and cramping
  • Inability to concentrate

Generally, withdrawal symptoms will begin to fade after a week or two, though some may last a bit longer. A minority of people may experience withdrawal symptoms for a much longer period of time after substance use has ceased. This is called Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), also known as Protracted Withdrawal. It is different from Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS), which is characterized by severe, even life-threatening, withdrawal symptoms. AWS can cause hallucinations, severe tremors, seizures, and unconsciousness, requiring the need for immediate medical treatment. 


Why Is Monitoring Important During Detox?

Some people who have abused substances have been able to achieve sobriety or get clean on their own, whether they taper off or go “cold turkey.” This approach does not work for everyone, and it comes with serious risks. And detox is only a fraction of the rehabilitation process. When a patient’s detox is monitored at a treatment center, supervising clinicians ensure that the detox phase does not get dangerous and has the experience and knowledge to help safely address and alleviate symptoms as they arise. Patients have the opportunity to rest, get proper care, and ease their way into treatment as they undergo the detox process. With detox alone, a person may find the withdrawal symptoms unbearable and quickly relapse. Even if detoxing alone is successful, you also need new life skills, tools, and habits to be able to successfully avoid substance use in the future. That’s why comprehensive treatment is so important. 

Meeting the Needs of Each Person, in Detox and Beyond

At The Meadows Malibu, we meet the needs of each person during detox, conducting evaluations throughout the process, and adjusting treatment accordingly. “We can customize a detox protocol,” says Rick Campa, our medical director. “Everyone has their own tolerances to the substances they’re coming in for. … We will use withdrawal scores to evaluate the patient, and based on those scores, I can better treat them for their detox.”

We may also utilize MAT to quiet withdrawal symptoms depending on what substances a person has been using. Our team is focused on helping patients be present enough to participate in therapy while also making them as comfortable as possible during the detox phase. 

But what happens after detox? As a patient progresses in treatment, we pay attention to what he or she feels like is helpful in the healing process. “Something that makes us really unique is the lengths we will go to meet someone’s needs,” says Executive Director Cassandra Copperfield. “We truly customize every single person’s treatment plan and their stay. And we go above and beyond that as well. It’s not just those obvious needs … it’s when someone gets here and they realize what’s really helping them. Whatever it is that’s really helping that person, we’ll get it on their schedule.”

Treatment at The Meadows Malibu

If you or a loved one needs detox and treatment for substance use, please get in touch with our team today. Our highly customized approach allows us to meet patients where they are and help them participate in their own recovery, which is critical for sustaining healthy changes in the long term. We are committed to treating our patients with the dignity, compassion, and respect they deserve, helping them achieve wellness and learn new skills so they can thrive in post-treatment life. To find out more about how we approach detox and treatment, contact us today. 


Call 310-695-5462
Broad Beach Recovery Center