Detoxification is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of a drug while managing the symptoms of withdrawal. It is often the first step in a drug treatment program and should be followed by treatment with a behavioral-based therapy and/or a medication, if available. Detox alone with no follow-up is not treatment.
What is withdrawal?
Withdrawal describes the various symptoms that occur after long-term use of a drug is reduced or stopped abruptly. Length of withdrawal and symptoms vary with the type of drug. For example, physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal may include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes.
These physical symptoms may last for several days, but the general depression that often accompanies heroin withdrawal may last for weeks. In many cases, withdrawal can be easily treated with medications to ease the symptoms, but treating withdrawal is not the same as treating addiction. For more information on drug treatment, see Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.
(Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse website. Unless otherwise specified, NIDA's products are in the public domain and can be copied as a whole without seeking permission from NIDA.)