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Detox Symptoms: What are the Signs Your Body is Detoxing?

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Ashlee Partridge

When detoxing from drugs or alcohol, your body goes through a process that can affect several bodily functions and systems. Some of these signs your body is detoxing aren’t comfortable but are well worth it.

Discover what those signs are and how you can help minimize their effects on you.

What Detox Symptoms Will I Go Through?

When a drug is stopped, whether abruptly or slowly, your body goes through the withdrawal process of getting the drug completely out of your system. The long-term use of a drug or alcohol changes the brain to a new “normal,” meaning it becomes dependent on that substance to achieve a high or euphoric state or a woozy, relaxed state. Once a person takes a drug, it elicits a response in the brain. Whether it’s to block pain, create a buzzed or high feeling, or alters your thinking, it adapts, therefore, creates a dependency on the drug, if continued.

Your body, once the drug is stopped, has to readjust itself back to the old “normal,” but that takes some time. Meanwhile, your body starts to feel the effects of not having the drug in its system and begins to rebel, if you will. Detoxification is cleansing the body of the drug so that the brain can make its needed adjustments.

Detox symptoms can occur quite rapidly after stopping the substance—sometimes within hours.  Here are the signs to be aware of:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Body pain
  • Tremors
  • Changes in appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • Sleepiness
  • Leg cramps
  • Cravings
  • Sweating
  • Shivering

Your skin also shows signs of detoxing. You could break out in a rash, itch, or sweat more than usual. Emotionally, your moods can change from anger to sadness to anxiousness or depression. Cognitively, your motor reflexes could be slower. Major detox signs include seizures, delirium, and hallucinations.

Read more about the symptoms of alcohol detox in our article on the topic.

How to Know if a Detox is Working?

Here are some signs that indicate your detox is working:

  1. Increased energy levels. As toxins are eliminated from your body, you may feel more energetic and need less sleep. Lethargy and fatigue will reduce.
  2. Better digestion. Detoxing can relieve digestive issues like bloating, gas, stomach pain, and constipation. Bowel movements become more regular.
  3. Clearer skin. Skin looks healthier as toxins are flushed out. Breakouts, rashes, and acne may start to clear up.
  4. Reduced cravings. You may notice fewer cravings for unhealthy foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol etc. as your taste buds adapt to natural flavors.
  5. Mental clarity. Brain fog reduces and thinking becomes clearer and sharper as toxins are removed. Concentration and focus improves.
  6. Weight loss. Losing some initial water weight and bloating is common as inflammation goes down during a detox.
  7. Fresh breath. Breath can smell cleaner and fresher when toxins are eliminated from the body.
  8. Decreased detox symptoms. Headaches, allergies, body aches, nausea and fatigue can reduce as your body flushes out toxins.
  9. Lightheadedness. Initially feeling a bit lightheaded or fatigued is common as your body adjusts. Stay hydrated!
  10. Fewer withdrawal symptoms. Your initial detox withdrawal symptoms should lessen over time.

Stay with it, go easy on yourself, and don’t give up. Trust that the detox is working and that your body knows best.

How Long Does a Detox Last?

Detox signs start showing up anywhere from 8 to 24 hours after the drug is stopped, and can last for days or a few weeks. Again, this all depends on what substance was used and for how long. For example, people undergoing heroin detox show signs of peak symptoms within 72 to 96 hours, with opioid users going as long as 14 days after taking the last dose. For sedatives and hypnotics, you could be in withdrawal for 2 to 10 days.

Stimulants, such as cocaine or amphetamines, could cause excessive hunger and psychomotor dysfunction that can last two days, with milder symptoms lasting upwards of two weeks. Although the physical signs and symptoms of detox last for a few days to a week, the psychological effects can last longer.

Get Help with Detox

If you or a loved one is ready to detox from alcohol or drugs, you need a recovery center that understands your needs and offers care and support. At Ardu Recovery Center, we focus on the whole person and design treatment around the individual and their needs and comfort level. We are located in Provo, UT, and serve all of Utah and beyond. Please give us a call today and let us help take back your life or your loved one.

We offer caring, supportive detox and recovery services.

Mina Draskovic, B.Psy., reviewed this content for accuracy on 6/30/23