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Drug Detox Symptoms

During drug detox, it’s not actually the symptoms of detox that are present but rather those of drug withdrawal. Withdrawal occurs when a dependence to drugs is present and the drug or drugs are eliminated causing adverse reactions within the body. Whenever an individual undergoes drug detox, a range of symptoms associated with withdrawal can become present. Many drug detox symptoms are mild and relatively easy to cope with while others can be rather severe and may even require medical attention.

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Mild Withdrawal Symptoms Associated with Drug Detox

The first symptoms of withdrawal are typically mild and will not require medical attention. In most cases, these drug detox symptoms will gradually subside with time and do not require any further attention. Although these symptoms will be different from one person to the next and will also be different depending on the drug of choice, they may include:

  • Mild anxiety or heightened fear
  • Mild sleep deprivation
  • Mild paranoia
  • Mild changes in weight such as weight loss
  • Mood changes

Moderate Withdrawal Symptoms

Drug Detox Symptoms

Anxiety and insomnia are common drug detox symptoms.

Some symptoms do require medical attention or should at least be monitored by a doctor to ensure that they do not slip into a case where the symptoms pose a risk to the recovering addict. The moderate symptoms of drug detox may be both physical or psychological in appearance and typically present within the first 3 days following the last dose of a drug. These symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety that poses a risk to the addict or to others
  • Paranoia that causes the recovering addict to stray away from getting help from others
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps or nausea (contact a doctor if fluids cannot be held down as this could pose a serious risk of dehydration)
  • Insomnia
  • Depression without suicidal thoughts

Drug Detox Symptoms that are Severe

In some rare cases, drug detox symptoms will become so severe that they require immediate medical attention to ensure the safety of the recovering addict. While most of the above symptoms are not considered severe, there are cases where the symptoms continue to rapidly escalate and will then require treatment by a doctor or qualified medical personnel. The following symptoms of withdrawal that occur typically during the peak phase of drug detox are considered severe and require immediate medical attention:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Vomiting or diarrhea that persists for a period of more than 3 days and which includes not being able to hold any fluids down
  • Extreme paranoia
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Weight loss in excess of 10 lbs.
  • Very risky behavior

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  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2016). Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). Thoughts of Suicide May Persist Among Nonmedical Prescription Opiate Users.
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