Skip to main content

Can Detox Kill You?

Detoxification, also referred to as detox, is the process that rids one’s body of foreign substances.

It is an essential component to an individual’s treatment for substance abuse and/ or addiction. If left untreated, addiction can have lethal consequences. Depending on the type of substance abused as well as the method of detox chosen, detox can have severe consequences and, in some cases, lead to death. The best way to ensure an individual’s safety throughout the duration of the detox process is to select a detox method that provides twenty-four-hour supervision. Some detox methods (i.e. medically assisted detox) provide individuals with medical intervention to assist with managing the withdrawal symptoms during detox. This can be helpful for individuals detoxing from substances such as opioids, tranquilizers and/ or alcohol. Supervised detox is beneficial for individuals that are detoxing from benzodiazepines, synthetic drugs, and/ or prescription stimulants. Supervised detox can increase an individual’s chance for long-term recovery, as it provides a safe environment during the detox phase of one’s treatment.

Contributing Factors

There are a number of factors that contribute to one’s detox experience. The type of the substance abused, the length of time an individual abused the substance, the personal health history of the individual, the potency of the substance abused, the presence of any co morbid disorders will all play a part in one’s detox experience. It is imperative to consider the variables that will likely contribute to one’s detox process. This will allow an individual to plan accordingly, and ensure their safety throughout the entire detox process. Any individual that has habitually abused drugs and/ or alcohol has likely developed a tolerance to the abused substance or substances. When a drug tolerance is built, one’s body begins to rely on the substance to function. When the substance is not present, the body will respond, in the form of withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are physical manifestations of the body purging abused drugs and/ or alcohol. They are essentially side effects the body endures as it begins to learn to function without the presence of the previously abused substance or substances with which it had become accustomed. The type of withdrawal symptoms that may manifest will depend on the substance or substances abused, the length of time an individual abused the substance, the potency of the substance abused, method of use (i.e. injecting, snorting, smoking…etc.) the individual’s age, as well as the personal health history of the individual. While each abused substance has its own set of withdrawal symptoms associated with detoxing from it, there are some common withdrawal symptoms that typically manifest across the board. These can include, but are not limited to the following examples of symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea 
  • Dizziness
  • Depression 
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Hallucinations
  • Elevated heartrate
  • Irritability 
  • Anxiety 
  • Diarrhea

It is important to note that every individual is different and will likely experience a unique set of withdrawal symptoms, with varying levels of severity. Withdrawal symptoms begin at some point during the acute detox phase. The severity of the symptoms usually decrease as time progresses, but some of the symptoms may linger beyond the completion of the acute detox process.

Post-Acute Withdrawal (PAWS)

After an individual completes the acute detox process, which includes the first stage of withdrawal symptoms, post-acute withdrawal syndrome may occur. The withdrawal symptoms associated with PAWS generally last much longer than those from the acute detox phase. Although the specific withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person during the acute detox and withdrawal phase, many individuals experience similar withdrawal symptoms during post-acute withdrawal. Some examples of commonly reported post-acute withdrawal symptoms can include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Variable energy
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Mood swings
  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lethargy 

This occurs as a result of the brain having to re-calibrates as it must learn to function after the individual stops using drugs and/ or alcohol. The symptoms primarily manifest as psychological and emotional withdrawal symptoms.

woman seeking help

Further Information

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous.

If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. 

Watch Videos of Our Program

Take a closer look at what makes Friendly House so special
Be sure to join us on social media:

Our Blog

Read the latest articles from Friendly House:

Back to top