drug detox los angeles

The 5 Stages of Drug Detox and How to Prepare for Treatment

It’s estimated that more than 114 people die as a result of drug overdose every day in the country.

But this problem can be easily treated with rehabilitation and drug detox.

To start living a drug-free life, you must go through the dreaded stages of drug withdrawal. But you shouldn’t be afraid of anything!

Identifying and understanding the withdrawal stages is crucial when preparing for an effective drug addiction treatment. The treatment process should be unique and tailored to suit the needs of every patient.

When done by a professional, it usually involves the five phases outlined below.

Stage 1: Quitting and Admission

The first stage is basically an individual decision. You must acknowledge that your addiction is a problem and that you need to quit for the better.

Once you make that big step, seek help from a professional. This means enrolling in a rehab center to begin your drug detox.

The admissions team will take you through various biopsychological evaluations. This will help them gather relevant information to develop a drug addiction treatment program suitable for you.

Keep in mind that drug recovery doesn’t take place overnight. You’ll need to be patient through all the five phases.

Stage 2: Onset of Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms occur as a result of the abrupt discontinuation of the drug your body is dependent on. However, the signs may vary depending on the drug in question.

The symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension and shaking
  • Racing heart

You may already be familiar with some of these symptoms when you missed your usual dose or tried to quit before.

Stage 3: Intensified Side Effects

Of all the phases of addiction treatment, the third stage is probably the most uncomfortable phase. Here, the withdrawal side effects intensify.

This starts to happen approximately 24-48 hours from the last time you used the drugs.

Expect to experience all or some of the following side effects at this stage of drug detox and treatment:

  • Severe muscle pain
  • Paranoia or heightened anxiety
  • Intense cravings for drugs
  • Mood swings
  • Chills
  • Bad temper

This stage tests your mental willingness and physical strength. You can overcome the temptation to re-use harmful drugs with the help of your therapist.

If you’re doing your detox at the rehab center, you have nothing to worry about. A professional therapist will track your progress and help reduce your withdrawal discomfort.

Your specific drug detox program may involve the administration of certain medications to ease your symptoms and help you complete the withdrawal stages.

Stage 4: The Peak of Withdrawal Symptoms

Once you make it to the fourth stage of drug detox, you’ll expect to experience the worst of those side effects.

The good news is that this experience is a sign that your detox is finally coming to an end. Your body is about to become be free from drug dependency.

This stage may have a different timeline depending on the drug you were addicted to. For example, symptoms of opiate withdrawal peak between the fourth and tenth day.

It’s important to prepare for this phase as the cravings for your drug of choice heighten. Staying at a treatment center for a few more days will help your recovery process.

In some cases, physical pain is likely to occur. Your medical professional at the rehab center may put you under intensified pain management care. This involves the use of painkillers, sedatives, and even IV electrolytes.

Some patients can go into a serious relapse that may require emergency medical attention. If you’re trying to detoxify at home, have someone watch over you so that they can call for help in case of an emergency.

The following symptoms may occur during the fourth stage of drug detox:

You may experience some or even all of the symptoms. 

Stage 5: Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Your sobriety begins when you overcome the four phases described above.
It may, however, be threatened by a new wave of symptoms called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

This syndrome can occur a few weeks to months after completing the drug detox stages. The side effects can be strong enough to threaten a relapse.

The symptoms may be similar to what you experienced during prior treatment stages. You may find them irregular and varying in intensity, changing from minute to minute or even hour to hour.

The best way to prepare for this stage is to expect it and seek professional help. This way, you’ll be able to overcome the cravings and prevent a relapse.

Remember, even a small relapse can undo the gains you made during the recovery process. Stay committed to remaining sober and refrain from taking any harmful drugs.

If you find it hard, seek the help of your therapist or a sobriety support group.

Continue Drug Detox Therapy and Aftercare

Drug and alcohol addictions aren’t easy to overcome. Without the right care, most people fall into relapse even after completing the recovery program.

The threat of going back into addiction is real and the only way to counter it is to continue with therapy through ongoing support and aftercare programs outside the rehab center. This is crucial even years after your drug detox treatment.

Keep in mind that the drug addiction recovery process is different for each individual. Some people may progress through the stages with fewer challenges while others may find it quite hard.

It takes great courage and determination to go through a drug detox treatment. That’s exactly what you’ll need to change your life.

For help and support on drug addiction, check out our drug treatment programs.

About the Reviewer: Chris Barnes

Chris BarnesChristopher Barnes has worked in health care for over thirty years. He is a graduate of Alabama State University where he earned a double Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work and Psychology in 1982. Christopher Barnes is currently the Director of Clinical services at The Discovery House where he has been employed for the past five years. Because of his extensive experience in health care & substance abuse he has an excellent rapport with constituents, clients, and other professional organizations in the counseling/social service community.