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What To Expect During Detox

Physical detox from alcohol and/or drugs can be an essential part of the recovery process, and a medically-assisted detox will gradually reduce the substances in your body and your body’s reliance on them. For those with severe alcohol and drug addictions, or those who have been using for some time, this can be a vital part of the recovery journey before the rehab programme for your psychological addiction begins.

What is involved in a detox? 

Medical detox can be carried out at home or in a residential facility, but both are supervised by a medical professional. This is very important to note, and it is not advised that a self-detox is carried out without help and support. It is not recommended to go ‘cold turkey’ and withdraw from drugs and alcohol yourself without the help and support of a medical professional.

What to expect from a detox 

A detox supported by a medical professional helps your body and brain adapt safely, as alcohol and/or drugs leave your system. By gradually weaning you off the substances you are addicted to, typically taking a short course of prescribed medication to minimise withdrawal symptoms, you should expect to be relatively comfortable throughout the process. 

Once you have stabilised following detox, you’re ready to start your rehab programme to treat your psychological addiction. This will help you understand the nature of your addiction, identify triggers, manage your cravings, develop recovery strategies, and start building your recovery support network.  

black chalkboard with white detox text

At Help Me Stop, we provide an abstinence-based treatment programme, so this means we ask all clients to stop using alcohol and/or drugs to engage with our programme. We believe that stopping alcohol and drugs completely is the starting point for rehab to be effective and sustainable, and as such, we would not treat people who wished to carry on using substances here (but we can refer you elsewhere).

A detox is designed to prepare you for the road ahead and will typically last from 7 to 10 days, depending on individual circumstances. In complex cases, detox can take several weeks, but this is not the norm. Prior to the detox, you will have a mental and physical examination to ensure you are prepared for the detox and you have all the information and support you need in place.

Withdrawal symptoms

The whole point of a medically-assisted detox is to help you stop alcohol and/or drugs safely, minimising unpleasant or harmful effects. In many cases, with a professionally-managed detox you won’t have anything other than mild side effects in your detox process, if at all. Your comfort and safety are paramount. With close monitoring, if your medication needs minor adjustments, this can be done quickly and effectively. If necessary, your doctor can also prescribe additional medications to help with sleep, but this isn’t usually needed.

Detoxing from drugs and/or alcohol without medical support is unsafe, and should not be attempted without medical help. Common withdrawal symptoms without medical support include: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Sweating 
  • Headaches
  • Cramps and muscle pain 
  • Vivid dreams
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Extreme temperatures or chills
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Intense cravings

If you experience any of these withdrawal symptoms, this is a sign you are physically dependent on alcohol and/or drugs. Please do not attempt a full detoxification alone. Get in touch with Help Me Stop, or speak urgently to your GP, to get professional help with detox.

Help with a detox 

If you are looking for an alcohol detox or drug detox programme then we will be able to help you find the right one for you. We have a range of contacts and resources that we can refer you to, which will help you find a London detox or UK detox programme that is right for you. 

At Help Me Stop, we may advise that a detox programme is the best option prior to undertaking our rehab programme, in order for you to get the best and the most out of the time you spend with us.

Help Me Stop

At Help Me Stop, we offer drug and addiction treatment via our pioneering Dayhab model, which is a non-residential, intensive rehab for addiction. We have created a programme that supports those with addiction in our two London locations, our Winchester rehab, and  in our Online Rehab too which can be accessed anywhere in the world. 

We know that recovery is an integral part of your journey, but we also appreciate that residential rehab can be disruptive to your routine and very costly. That is why we created an affordable and accessible option for Rehab, to help more people get the help they need, including working people, parents and carers who cannot step out of their life for weeks or months at a time.

If you would like to talk to someone about rehab and recovery, call us on +44 (0) 208 191 9191 for a confidential chat. Alternatively, you can send us an email to, and we will be more than happy to help. We are here to listen and support without judgement, and we will be here for you throughout your journey.

Suggested reading: 

Why is drug detox important?

Who is drug detox for?

Who is alcohol detox for?