Detox – What drug detoxes are available?

People looking for help for their drug addiction can be a little scared of how they will feel once they stop taking their drugs. Most people have heard of the phrase ‘going cold turkey’ and know it is something to be avoided if at all possible. It is rare these days to have to go cold turkey in a treatment centre. Most will prescribe you some form of detox programme.

Methadone Detox

If you are on methadone over 30ml it is possible that you will need a reduction detox programme on your methadone first. Methadone is not an easy substance to detox from as it penetrates deep into the body and bones. Once you get down to 30ml it is sensible to then switch to an alternative form of detox involving something which blocks withdrawal symptoms as detailed below.

Opiate Detox

Subutex (brand name) otherwise known as buprenorphine can be used to comfortably detox from opiates such as heroin, methadone, tramadol and codeine. This is an extremely effective detox as it blocks the withdrawal symptoms to the extent that they are minimal or not noticeable at all! However, the medication, which is taken under the tongue and absorbed in the mouth (NOT swallowed), cannot be introduced until the you have gone into withdrawal. If introduced too soon it can make you very ill. So some discomfort needs to be experienced before it is introduced and in the next 24 hours until it is fully effective. It is then given daily on a reducing dosage until complete usually after about 10 days. You may then experience the tail end of withdrawal symptoms (a few aches and pains) but these can usually be relieved quite easily e.g. by taking a relaxing bath. 


If you are addicted to GBL, the detox is usually on benzodiazepines (these are also commonly used for alcohol detox). Benzos include diazepam, oxazepam, and chlordiazepoxide (Librium). Care needs to be taken with the use of these other than on a dose reduction programme as they are highly addictive medications in their own right. Many people get addicted to them if used regularly and, if addicted to them, they are very difficult to come off and have very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.  You will need a detox to come off them!


There are few commonly prescribed detoxes for use of other drugs. If you are addicted to cannabis, ketamine or cocaine, for example, you may be given some form of medication (possibly a benzo) to reduce your anxiety and stress but despite how you might feel these are non physically addictive drugs. The treatment required is for the mental obsession and psychological addiction.


As part of your detox programme you may be prescribed a sleeping tablet (such as zopiclone) to help you achieve a good pattern of sleep. However, as detox drugs are addictive, so can sleeping tablets be, so you will only be prescribed these for a limited period of time – usually for a few days or so. 

Talk to us

A detox is, of course, only part of the solution. Dealing with addiction is about learning to be comfortable in your own skin and to face the realities of life without blurring your feelings with drugs. If you need advice on detox or drug treatment programmes call the Haynes Clinic on 01462 851414.

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